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Burnout, Employees and Reclaiming a Life

The pressures of a career can destroy everything. Burnout, Employees, and Reclaiming a life takes on the toll our professional choices have on our health both physical and mental, our relationships, and even our very life and nails it head-on in a high-impact manner. So many of us in the corporate world never see it coming until it’s far too late. Ambition, success, and endless hours come out of nowhere, and in the case of Michael Levitt have no warning until he had a “widowmaker heart attack” that is usually fatal was his warning sign.  We discuss how to know the signs, avoid the pitfalls and avoid the fate of so many corporate employees.

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Show notes for Surviving and Reinventing Yourself After Burning Out

Tim Kubiak 0:14
I’m your host Tim. Always Thank you for listening. If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe via your favorite podcast service. leave us a review, tell your friends, and you can always find us at bowties and business on Facebook and Instagram and Bow Ties and B I Z on Twitter

Today we’re talking about getting burnt out. It happens to the best of us that happens at times that we don’t even intend. And much like a guest, we might not even see it coming. Today we’re talking to Michael Levitt. He’s the founder and chief burnout officer, the breakfast Leadership Network. It’s a San Diego and Toronto based burnout media firm. He’s an in person and certified virtual speaker, a certified NLP and CBT therapist and a fortune 500 consultant. He’s a best selling author of three books. And he hosts the breakfast leadership show a top 200 podcasts on iTunes. Michael’s a top 20 Global thought leader on culture with thinkers 360, and a former health care executive who’s overseen more than $2 billion budgets. So what we’re going to talk about today is recognizing burnout, his own journey, you may see some things in yourself. And if you want to learn more, there’s links in the show notes. But you can go to the breakfast forward slash p forward slash burn out. Dash proof dash your life your dash life. It’s an online course it’s seven modules. And there’s a discount code of 90 and i n e t y all capitals a checkout that will get you that 90% off. So with that, let’s get to the conversation on the show. Welcome.

Michael Levitt 1:55
Great to be with you Tim,

Tim Kubiak 1:56
can you just take a couple minutes and introduce yourself?

Michael Levitt 2:00
Sure. Michael Leavitt. I’m the chief burnout officer of the breakfast Leadership Network, an organization that deals and talks about burnout in leadership and business and life. I had my own burnout journey that we can talk about briefly, where I burned out pretty badly back in 2009, and 10, and nearly lost everything, including my life. And after recovering from all of those losses. And rebuilding myself, I discovered, wow, I wasn’t the only person that burned out in this world. So I thought I learned how to deal with it and prevent it from happening in my life. So made it my mission to help others do the same thing.

Tim Kubiak 2:41
So do you mind sharing a bit of that story?

Michael Levitt 2:43
Sure. Yeah. Back in 2007, I was hired as the healthcare executive for a StartUp Health Care Organization, just outside of Windsor, Ontario, across the border from Detroit. I’m a dual citizen, I immigrated to Canada in 2004 became a citizen in 2011. So I joke with people that means I can vote and screw up two countries, but then I leave it at that, because you never know who you’re talking to, because it’s pretty much 5050 split both in Canada and the United States. So I don’t want to offend anybody. You know, I say they’re all bozos. So we’re good Blair, we all agree on that. But so in the startup role, for the first couple years that I was in the role, I was working some insane hours, from basically 6am to 11pm, seven days a week, emails, meetings, all kinds of stuff, because as a startup, and for those of us that have launched any type of business, there’s a lot of work involved. But unfortunately, that work pace never stopped. And I never established boundaries around when I should be working and when I shouldn’t be working. And it all came to a crashing halt in May of 2009, where, at the age of 40 years old, I had a pretty significant heart attack. And I had two blockages in my left anterior descending artery, which for those that are familiar with cardiology, they call that artery, the Widowmaker. Because typically, if you have a heart attack with blockages in that artery, you don’t survive. We are recording this in September 2020. I am still alive. So I’m thankful for that. So after that, I recovered for about 17 weeks, I had medical leave, and then went back to the organization to find out that they didn’t want me anymore. So I was let go. So 17 weeks after my heart attack, I was laid off from my role. reminder, this is 2009 remember the Great Recession? Yeah, I’m in a city across the border from Detroit. Detroit had the auto sector and still does. And the government’s had to bail them out because they came within a couple inches being out of business forever. So no jobs to be found. So it took me several months to find a job. So here I am unemployed without a job trying to find a job in an area. Didn’t have any jobs. Also, now paying $1,000 a month for drug medication for my heart because well, they want you to keep yourself alive. So had to deal with that. So when you’re on an employment and you’re getting 1000 bucks every month you have to spend on medicine. You also have to buy food, take care of your family and everything else. And that created some financial difficulties as far as paying for mortgages and auto loans and whatnot, and finally got to April of 2010 found a new role in Toronto, Ontario, so required a move several hours away from family and friends. And once I was out there and working for a few weeks to look for a place to live for family and everything like that I received a phone call from my oldest daughter who was 10 at the time, and she was crying, but finally got from her that the bank had come and repossessed our family vehicle. So thankfully, we still had a vehicle but pretty traumatic to lose your car. So let’s rewind heart attack, the should have killed me job loss during the Great Recession. Now my car got repossessed from the bank, we finally move up to Toronto in May of 2010. And we are going to be selling our home. And when we are on packing everything, we realized that we forgot the bunk bed ladder for our daughter’s bets. So I was going back to that area to visit with family in a week or so. So I said, Well, I’ll visit the family and I’ll swing back by the house, grab the bunk bed ladder and anything else that we may have left behind. So after the family visit, I went over to the house to get everything and opened up the front screen door. And I saw the largest padlock I’ve ever seen in my life. You can’t buy this lock at Home Depot or Lowe’s or anywhere else it this is a lock that only banks and you know the organizations that foreclosed homes owns and there was a small sticker on the door that said foreclosure. what’s frustrating is they never got a mail saying we’re going to foreclose it, you know, it was basically, you know, they had made up their mind to did it. So over a period of a year or 369 days had a heart attack that should have killed me lost my job during the Great Recession, my family car was repossessed, and my home was foreclosed. And all of it was due to burnout. And my burnout created those scenarios. I don’t blame anybody. I don’t blame my former employers, I don’t blame the fast food companies for my breakfast lunch and dinner meals that I chose to make. You know, during that burnout time, I don’t blame the banks for taking back the car or the home, we had a deal. They loaned us an asset, I pay for it. If I don’t pay for it, they have the right to take it back in the exercise that right I have no problem with that. And I actually had banked again with the bank that gave us the auto loan. For a future loan years down the road, I had no problem dealing with them because they were great to deal with I don’t pay, you should expect things to get taken away from you. So that’s what led up to my burnout. And then after that, you know, I spent several years reinventing myself and it took about three years for me to really get in tune with how I needed to prioritize things and my behaviors, my thoughts, my actions. And then I started peeling back the layers of Okay, what led up to those situations, what were my choices and beliefs that created those situations because I don’t ever want to go through that again. And after doing that, in rebuilding my life and having a successful life where I wasn’t burned out, I was able to prioritize and do the things they need to do took better care of myself. I started looking around at my peers, I was back in the health care industry. Ironically, my parents wanted to have me committed for going back to an industry that nearly killed me when I said no, I’m gonna do a better this time. And I did. And I was able to be much more successful and help organizations and whatnot. But I was looking at my peers. And I started seeing what I looked like before I had my year worst case scenarios, and scared me. And I thought, Okay, I need to do something about this. So I started talking with them. And they all said, I’ll work through it. It’s just a temporary thing. And I’m like, Yeah, I thought that too. And it didn’t work out well for me. So I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through. So I thought I can do something different about this. I started writing about a little bit more, and creating some content about it and then decided, Okay, this has enough meat to it where I should launch an organization to focus specifically on that and that’s, I saw breakfast leadership was born. And it’s been a wild ride so far.

Tim Kubiak 9:50
So the question I have is, if you look, did you know you were burning out or did it just hit you

Michael Levitt 9:58
it hit me up What after, I’d understood what burnout looks like. And all of the signs that are red flags to identify that you could be burning out or are burned out, and they were all there. But I didn’t see them. During it now, family and friends, they were fully aware of it. And they said, yeah, we tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen. But their approach on how they tried to tell me was, it wasn’t a tough love, quite frankly. And I don’t blame them at all. Because they could have hit me upside the head, and I wouldn’t have gotten it because I was so burned out, I was like, I’m gonna get through this. Because I find a lot with people that burn out, they tend to be very type A personality, very successful, able to work through things and get through it. And up to that point in my life, at least. So I thought I was able to do those things. But upon reflection and looking back at it, I was basically just piling up the stress doesn’t matter what levels I was in. So I would say that the stress levels that I was facing, was building long before that health care role. It was little doses. And burnout is you know, unaddressed stress over a prolonged period of time. And I anticipate that, you know, that stress that I had, there was levels of it. Going back, you know, I would say 1015 years anyway.

Tim Kubiak 11:25
And you talked about it took you a couple of years to really get your arms around it and you went back into health care. Do you mind talking about what that journey looked like for you? What were you just, were you numb, were you still figuring out where the pieces needed to be? or What did it look like?

Michael Levitt 11:42
For me, I was thankful that I was still alive, that was the biggest thing and then finding a new role. I was thankful for that in that first role that I found was a stressful organization, there was a lot of changes going on with it. And it was a, it was a stressful place to work. So probably not the best place for me to be there. And I made a change and went to another organization after that, which was a little more low key. So it was a case of Okay, I need to find something where it boils down to her my for my own situation, identify myself as a reformed people pleaser. I want good for the world. And unfortunately, I didn’t follow the instructions that they tell us on the airplane to put your oxygen mask first, I was running around and giving everybody oxygen while I was collapsing. So I needed to realize that I have to take care of myself first before I can take care of anybody else. But the work that I did was I wasn’t nom, I was relieved in and started feeling better, healthier, and all of that and had more energy. And the biggest challenge I had during that time was to fight the resistance of wanting to take on all these new initiatives and do all these things like I did before. It’s like, No, you don’t want it’s good enough. Just work on this. And now spend some time and have some time to reflect and, and do it in a non judgmental way. Because we are our own worst judges when it comes to things. And I fought that and, you know, had some guidance from people said when you start doing some of this work, digging deep, do it from a state of love. don’t condemn that person, your past version yourself. Love that person, they were doing the best that they could that time, you know, looking back at the earlier version of me. So when I did things that’s like, okay, I made these decisions. Okay, why did I work all those hours? What was I trying to prove? What was I trying to accomplish? What was the what was the mission that I was trying to do, and I was buying into the the mission of the organization and the Board of Directors and I supported it, believed in it. Even to this day, I think it was, you know, a good, you know, good premise to do. My approach was wrong, and not establishing boundaries about how much time I actually worked, and how much time I actually gave myself or leisure because I was just never got off the hamster wheel of working was just continually spinning and not taking any time off to rest, reflect enjoy vacations, anything like that. And it’s, it took a toll. And obviously it you know, nearly cost me my life and it did cost me a lot of other things from financial standpoint.

Tim Kubiak 14:32
What do you do now? What’s breakfast leadership club, how do you help people?

Michael Levitt 14:36
What I do in the organization I have, it’s got four pillars one, and what’s been taking up a gigantic chunk of my time this year is speaking at conferences and of course, they’re virtual. So my luggage loves me, you know, it’s getting used, it’s in storage right now. I saw it the other day. I said hi I checked it on it. It was still there, which is good. Hopefully there’s no dirty undergarments in there because I really don’t want to open That up, I’m pretty sure there isn’t. But you know, we’ll find out when we actually get to travel again. So speaking a lot of events and conferences and with organizations on working from home burn, because that’s a big challenge for a lot of people right now. And they’re trying to navigate, how do I work? How do I teach my kids? How do I work with my spouse? Why is the dog staring at me asking me why I’m still here. It’s all of these nuances that are going on right now. And there’s a way to do it. It’s all about scheduling your time and having boundaries and working when it makes sense to work and in communicating with your employer and your family of when you can work and when you need time to be able to do other things. So that’s the first pillar. The second one is the breakfast leadership show. I’ve podcasts I’ve been doing for over three years now and just literally finished up an interview about 15 minutes ago. So it I enjoy that because I talk with thought leaders across the globe, on a variety of different subjects, mostly business related in entrepreneurial and startup and things like that to help people. I don’t say take shortcuts, but take the right steps for them. Because as an entrepreneur and a startup, we all suffer from shiny object disease, and we need to go left, we need to do this. And we got to get that funnel thing. And we got to do this email list. And then you just spend all your time spinning and doing all these things and figuring out trying to walk out what do I do, it’s like, figure out what you do. That’s better than what’s out there right now. And focus on that. And then eventually, you’ll, you’ll be fine. The third pillar is writing lots of content creation, and I curate content on burnout and share that across my social media channels. Because I want the topic of burnout to be front and center. Because it’s it’s been a huge problem for a long time, it’s getting worse. And I don’t want to see that. But based on how my calendars looking. It’s there’s, you know, a benefit to it for me to be able to share on the things that I do. And then the fourth one is the consulting side of things. Which is ironic, because when I launched the organization that was going to be my focal point, that’s what I was going to be doing most of my work on was the consulting either with individuals or with teams on burnout. And I still do that. But I had to scale it back a little bit, because the speaking schedule on the podcast schedule has been so rigorous, that it’s not good for the burnout guy to burnout. So I had to it’s not good for PR anyway.

Tim Kubiak 17:35
No, it’s not good any personally, either. No, no, I don’t personally Yeah,

Michael Levitt 17:38
I should know that. Hopefully, I learned that lesson. But I realized that, okay, there’s, there’s only so much time that I can allocate in a day. And it’s, it’s an ever flow type of thing. You know, I tell people, you know, structure days, but understand that each day is going to have some nuances to it, where you may have plans to do something on a particular day, but something will come up and you need to address it. So make sure you have the wiggle room in your calendar that you can shuffle some things around a bit and still be able to accomplish what you need to accomplish. And realize that there may be some things that you don’t get to today, or maybe even this week, and you like it, don’t beat yourself up for it, there’s just going to be things that come up in life and and don’t say, well, I’ll just stay up late and do it. Well, if you if it’s something critical, and it’s a one off, maybe. But when it becomes your normal operation of doing that. I know some good cardiologist, but I don’t want to refer them to you because I’d much rather you not, you know have to, you know, take eight milligrams of this or 40 milligrams of that for your, for a long time or for potentially, you know, the rest of your life.

Tim Kubiak 18:53
So, you’re an executive listening to this. You’re an entrepreneur listening to this, you’re going, you know what, I’m going hard, but I’m not burning out what some symptoms or signs they might be that they’re not recognizing.

Michael Levitt 19:05
Some common signs is their sleep habits. Are they getting a good night’s sleep or they tossing and turning or only getting a few hours of sleep? Yes, there’s the Gary V’s of the world that can only sleep a few hours and they’re fine. Okay, those are not your typical results. And so I don’t I’m not condemning Gary Vee, it works for him. He seems to be healthy, great than you know, it works for him. That’s great. But for most people, they do need seven, eight hours of restful sleep. And what happens is if you don’t get restful sleep, that means your body is not repairing the damage that we do to ourselves on a daily basis and we can be the healthiest specimens on the planet have zero percent body fat, eat kale salads all day, all of the things that you know, we get told on what healthiest for you, and we can be that way. But if you’re not getting proper sleep, we still do damage to our bodies based on what We consume from a food standpoint, from the air we breathe, the news, we consume the information and stressors and everything that happens in life. So if we don’t get restful sleep, our body can’t repair that damage. So what happens is, the damage that we’ve done today will get piled on to the damage that happens tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the next day. And then that can lead to mental issues and physical issues such as clogged arteries, for example, another sign that comes up a lot is you start getting more forgetful, and you can’t think clearly on things or you’re making more mistakes at work. Another common one, too, is if you’re more irritable than you normally are, because some people are just naturally irritable, and they’re happy, go lucky, and they’re healthy. And they’ll never have any health problems. But there are some people where that’s not their normal mode. But they get into that. And when you start seeing that, and you get snappy with your team or with your family, that is potentially a warning sign that you should look out for that you might be burning out.

Tim Kubiak 21:02
You described me a year ago, by the way, right? And you add to the fact that I had a pretty consistent yoga practice. And I was working so much I didn’t go to yoga for nearly six months. So yeah, I went on this journey. And I came out the other side, I didn’t have the cardio problems, fortunately. So yeah. working from home, big deal, you’ve talked about boundaries, how do you set that boundary? And how do you set it with an employer, as much as with family.

Michael Levitt 21:31
Communication is crucial. And hopefully, your communication with both your family and your employer was happening before the pandemic, and there was an ongoing relationship there. As far as being able to address and work with some things. From an employer standpoint, I recommend approaching it this way. And results may vary. It really depends on what your relationship is with your boss or bosses. But how it’s worked for me in the past is

first go in and list out all the things that you’ve been doing well, and make sure that they are in agreement that yes, everything is great, the work you’re doing is awesome, and things like that. And then you bring up okay. Lately, it seems like that, you know, the the work that I’m doing has been challenging for me to be able to accomplish because of other social situations that are happening right now at home. And is there a way that we can, you know, figure out when I can do these things? Is there a time restriction on things? Can I potentially shift some of the things later, so I can teach my kids if they’re at home right now, and you’re homeschooling them? Because many people you know, now that, you know, the school’s starting to get back in session. That’s the that’s the situation, we’re finding a lot of people. So figuring it out, okay, when can I do some of these things, but also, make sure that you have time in the day for you, you have and I always tell people, if at all possible schedule that first, a lot of people schedule the the yoga time meditation time going for walk time, they find little slots in their day, and they fill it in when you know what happens, those slots can get filled up pretty quick with other things. So then it’s like, well, I’m not like you said a few minutes ago, like I stopped going yoga. Well, I’m going to skip yoga today. But I’ll do it tomorrow. And then tomorrow, something happens and then you stopped going. So I tell people, it’s like, your self care time is crucial. So make sure that you schedule that first and don’t, whatever, if at all possible, don’t move it. And that’s why first thing in the morning, you know, when the pandemic hit, Americans on average started working 20% more hours than they were before. And I joke with people, okay, those people found that 27 hour clock we’ve all been wanting, and because they found this extra time, but that’s not the case, what happened was they traded their commute time for work. So instead of getting up getting cleaned up breakfast, coffee, tea, and then driving to work, they get up and just start working. I implore people, you know, again, communicate with your bosses on that, because there might be a reason for that. But build in some time in the morning, I’m not talking three or four hours, I’m talking a half an hour here half hour there. Don’t work. Don’t pick up the smartphone, don’t just do something that is relaxing to whatever it is can be yoga meditation, going for a walk, having a cup of coffee on your patio or in your backyard or even if there’s coffee shops that are open for you strolling over there and doing whatever. Whatever you enjoy doing and brings you some peace and tranquility. You build that into your day every day because then you’re operating from a more relaxed state so then you don’t get irritated by the nuances. As far as family goes, it’s it’s challenged because you’re working with loved ones that are probably home to your kids or their to they’re going through a lot of challenges. And it’s just having those conversations and with understanding, you know, we’re all having a tough time, what do you think we can do, and focusing on what you can do to help everybody makes it a lot easier. And it cuts back on the, the irritating nature of you know, maybe your spouse’s tying up the one computer you have all the time, hopefully, you have more than one computer because I know a lot of people unfortunately aren’t. So hopefully your employer can provide you something so you can continue to work. It’s, there’s I’m hearing all kinds of horror stories and challenges and all that. But establishing boundaries around when you’re working and when you’re not are important and communicate those and negotiate those with all the stakeholders in your life. And stick to it. Because you have to take care of yourself, because you’re no good to anybody if you end up being sick. Because if you if you get rundown, you get sick, then your immunity is lower, well, you have a low immunity, there’s chance you could contract COVID-19. And I don’t want anybody to have to have that because results may vary as far as what it can do to you. I’ve heard some amazing stories where they suddenly I felt fatigued for a few days. And I was fine to someone that’s around my age that had it around Memorial Day and recovered from it, but then had a collapsed lung a couple weeks later. And I’m like, ouch, that’s not good. So it varies as far as what happens to people and I don’t want anybody to get it. So keep your resistance up and take really good care of yourself. And that helps

keep yourself safe from it.

Tim Kubiak 26:40
So morning routine, right? He said that 30 minutes or whatever it is aside. Right? What about end of day for the people that aren’t sleeping? Is there an evening routine that they should consider?

Michael Levitt 26:54
Definitely, definitely I I’m a big fan of making sure you keep the electronics, the smartphones, the televisions out of your bedroom, you need to shut down your brain and your eyes needs to get away from the blue light. And give yourself a buffer time to wind down. It’s like use this analogy, you’re driving your car and you’re pulling into your driveway. As you’re pulling into the driveway, you’re slowing down hopefully, and you’re applying the brakes and you’re putting into Park and then you’re shutting the vehicle off by you staying on your smartphone or watching television until you pass out that’s the equivalent of just barreling into your driveway and not slowing down. It’s going to cause a lot of damage and it does. So go on Amazon or Walmart or wherever by yourself and alarm clock, they still exist. You know they’re cheap. I one of those. Preferably with a light not too bright type thing, because that can impact you too. I’m a big fan of sleep masks. I know that takes some people a little bit of adjustment to get used to them. But it cuts out all of the light in your room. Because for many of us, you know we have bad lights in our rooms. And unless we got darkening shades, there’s still light coming in. So cutting out that light helps with asleep, even to the point of negotiating and I use that word, you know specifically negotiating with your your spouse or your partner if you share a bedroom on what the optimum temperature is because I don’t think anybody in humanity agrees on what temperature the bedroom should be at night. So find, find some variances. And you know, when they fall asleep, go down and change it to what you want.

Tim Kubiak 28:39
I’d love that.

Michael Levitt 28:41
Yeah, do that because I real quick, I have a really good colleague of mine who’s a divorce attorney. And during this pandemic, she said her busiest summer ever as far as her career. She’s got so many new clients and it’s unfortunate but I’m sure she’s going to be getting a new car pretty soon because you know, she can afford it for sure. But long story short, get the room temperature to something that’s comfortable for you make sure the pillow the bedding, all of this stuff is comfortable and you spoil yourself if you’re going to spend money on furniture and bedding and anything like that, put it on your bedding, put it in your bed, make sure that you get a really good restful sleep because when you do that you wake up refreshed. You don’t need that coffee as much in the morning because your body feels decent and then you can deal with things you have more clarity in your life because you feel better. And when you’re not feeling good. We all know this when we’re not feeling good. Everything is more difficult, engaging with people driving somewhere working homework with the kids. What the heck is stem you know, and you’re like, I don’t remember any of this. You’re googling you know stem and you’re hoping you can find a pirated copy of the answer key so you can like okay, here’s what you need to get to it’s don’t do it. But instead It’s like, what is this? I don’t understand this, you know, it’s like, you know, then we said new math. Well, you literally like, I don’t remember this. How do I not forget them? My first career was public accounting, I was really good at math. And I’m like, What is this? Like? This is Mandarin. I don’t understand this at all, what is this. So there’s a lot of people that are struggling with that too. But, you know, getting, getting the restful sleep. And you know, spending that time whether it’s a half an hour or an hour, is the key. And I know a lot of people like watching television at night, because they use it to unwind, which is fine. But you still need to get a good night’s sleep. And with DVRs, and on demand, and all of that stuff, you can watch that show later on. You know, challenge, a personal challenge I have is I love sports. So of course, a lot of sporting events are night. So I miss out on a lot of them, I will listen to them, you know, on the radio kind of thing, which kind of goes against what I just said about having, you know, technology and all of that, but it for me, I’ve it helps me fall asleep. So for me, that’s what works. So if you have something and the television on, and you fall asleep to it, and you get restful sleep, perfect, that’s fine. You know, you have to figure out what works for you. And because, you know, there isn’t a one size fits all on this, because I’ve seen people like do this than this. And everything’s better. It’s like, well, I did all those things. It’s not better. Well, it’s because they had other things that helped him sleep as well do those, and just make sure you get a good night’s sleep. But it makes such a big difference and, and fighting burnout, and you just live a healthier life when you do.

Tim Kubiak 31:39
Yeah, it’s part of it. I think it’s a big part of getting time away. Right? You know, yeah, you can only do 18 hour days with nothing else for so long before it gets you. Right. And that’s true of like you said earlier, almost everyone, most of us are mortal, right, we need to sleep we need time away. And one of the things I found personally is getting away taking that vacation, even though you feel like the company can’t live without you. You pregnant come back with better ideas and better perspective. Do you agree?

Michael Levitt 32:15
I agree. Yeah, when you rest, that’s when your subconscious can start generating ideas and clarity. So oftentimes we hear about we get ideas when we take a shower. Mm, it’s because we’re single tasking. At that point. We’re in there, getting cleaned up, okay, we’re not writing an article, we’re not reading a book, we’re not doing anything else. We’re in there, just doing one thing. And when we do that, you’re at a calm state where ideas can come. And that’s why you have those ideas come in. It’s the same thing when you’re working. When you’re working long hours, you’re not going to be creative, we’re seeing more and more that the study is in an eight hour, quote unquote, work day, the actual productivity is almost less than three hours now. So what are you doing with those other five? And it’s gonna be really interesting to see what work looks like in the future, because we’re finding that when we have deep work pockets, and I know Cal Newport wrote that book, deep work. And it was great because it tells you, okay, focus deep focus on work tasks, eliminate the interruptions, so you can just work on what you’re supposed to do. You get more things done, because you’re focused on that thing. Multitasking just takes us away from so much. So one way to combat that, that I guide people to do is if you can, and some people, unfortunately, based on their work environment, don’t have as much stay and what they’re supposed to work on in a particular day. But if you do have some autonomy around that, batch, like minded things into days, so for me, I have a theme for every day of the week on what I do. Mondays, I do research on speaking engagements and follow up with speaking engagements, Tuesdays, tend to be intro calls or podcasts interviews. Normally, I don’t do my own show on Tuesdays. But this was a last second thing that I wanted to get done. So that’s why I did it. Wednesdays tend to be my podcast recording days. So I do that Thursdays and Fridays, I block off, and at least one week a month, I make sure that I don’t put anything in there unless it’s end of the world type of situation. Because by leaving those days blocked off, if something comes up a last minute situation or last minute opportunity, I can say You know what? That’s worth giving some of that time for that. Now, for many people, they don’t have that autonomy to be able to do that. But I do but come up with a theme for days and When you do that, then you know Okay, on Mondays I’m gonna work on spreadsheets Tuesdays are, you know, accounts receivable or accounts payable work, if you’re in finance or Wednesdays, I’m going to work on this project or follow ups, or whatever it is. Look at the rhythms of it and figure out what makes sense for you. And that’s one of the things I tell people to do, as well as you keep a journal. Yes, keep a food journal. So you know what you’re eating, because so many of us have food intolerances that impact our stress. But also with that journal, track your energy, how you’re feeling at certain times of the day, if you like, 1030, you’re going, Okay, maybe somebody switched the coffee on the office to decaf whoops. So maybe go get a cup of coffee that’ll help you with that. But figure that out, in figure out when it works for you. For me, I tend to load my mornings up loads, probably not the great word. But I designed my mornings to say, Okay, this is I’m gonna do tasks and research and things, we’re going to use this a little bit in the afternoons, more creativity time, and just reflecting or intro calls or stuff like that. And I figured that out over time, because that’s when I knew my energies matched up with the task. Because why so many people struggle with some things as they’re trying to do something, but their energy levels aren’t matching up with that task, figure out where your rhythms are in the day, and then you can start mashing those things up. And you’ll find that those tasks and to do items become easier to do. That’s because you understand your own rhythms and flows. And too often, so many of us haven’t a clue. You know, what, if we know mornings might be tough, but we don’t know the rest of the day. And if you can do that, work yourself and kind of keep track of it, it makes such a big difference.

Tim Kubiak 36:48
You’ve written three books. How much of what we’ve talked about, is covered in those books in which one and links to all the books on Amazon, by the way, are in the show notes for anybody listening? So do you mind share?

Michael Levitt 37:01
Yeah, the 369 days one, that’s definitely got some things in it. I did a small ebook on burnout. That came out last year that has it, I have a new book coming out, I’m just waiting to get it back from the editor. That is the burnout book, it’s got 14 chapters, when that comes out, it covers that I have a working from home chapter, I actually went back and said, okay, we need to write about this. So that’s in there, just waiting to get it back from my editor, and then the ball will be rolling, I’m hoping to get it out before the end of the year, we’ll see, you know, on timing of all of that, if it works. If not, then it’ll be beginning of the year. The the preemptive strike leadership book that I wrote, with Dr. bat, so that’s a workplace environment, there’s some components to it’s more on workplace culture, and the challenges that we were seeing before the pandemic, but unfortunately, I’m seeing some of the things that we highlight in the book, kind of get amplified a little bit by some organizations right now and how they are trying to can, you know, square peg in a round hole kind of situation with how they’re trying to manage the remote force, and the nuances are not the same. So it’s, it’s gonna be an interesting dynamic, I think, in the workforce over the next few years as there’s kind of a tug of war, where employers are saying, We want the employees all coming back and the employees are going, we’ve been doing work remotely for six months, cats out of the bag now. And it’s gonna be an interesting dynamic to see how this works. And it’s going to be fun to watch for sure.

Tim Kubiak 38:37
You know, it’s an interesting debate for me personally, because I was a remote employee for basically the last 18 years. Right now I lived on the road all over the world, 200 days a year. So you could say I wasn’t really remote that I office that have a Marriott, in my case, right. But I joined the company and where I burned out was a place where the culture was and I opened a new office was they wanted everybody in the office. It was very much the shopkeeper mentality, I need to see these people, they need to be here. And I totally, I went into it, I built it. I’m proud of the team I built. But what I didn’t understand was the micromanagement, and it became meetings about meetings about meetings. You talk about that balance and, and batching things. I actually argue most people can do their job in four hours a day if you just let them work. And you have the right people. You don’t need 10 or 12 hours a day. No, you know, and one of the things I went through personally is I started not looking at email after six o’clock. I don’t give a shit world could burn down. Right? It can wait now I’m a morning guy too, right? I’m off and I’m looking at email again at six in the morning. So that’s my 12 hour window. So to your point of morning stuff, I got to the point where I got up I journal I read I drink my coffee and whatever before I even look at email now. If somebody is running a team, and they’re dealing with concerns CERN’s on both burnout. And frankly concerns on how to manage remotely guidance advice, should they reach out to you?

Michael Levitt 40:08
Oh, definitely. And it’s a case of employers need to trust their employees and my be completely biased here. I nothing would make me happier than to see the time clock truly go away forever. And salaried people are paid, whatever, let’s say you’re 50,000 100,000 doesn’t matter, you get paid $100,000 a year to do these roles. don’t assign it with time assignment with, okay, these are deadlines when these need to be done. If they get it done in three hours. And they’re off to the movies or doing whatever, fine. It’s, in a way, it’s a lot like a firefighter or paramedic, you pay those individuals. And hopefully for the most of their time, they’re not out in the fire trucker and the ambulance doing things unless they’re needed. There may be some days where they don’t go out at all, there may be some days where that’s all they do all day. And it’s same kind of thing. It’s like what you’re here to do these roles, if something comes up, that you can address, then you address it. But you, you’re paying for their expertise and their skills to do something, if they get it done in three hours, great. If it takes them eight hours to do it, or eight, whatever the case may be, but give them the task, give them the outcomes, make sure you’re available to them if they need you for guidance, but then get the heck out of their way, and let them do their job. Because if you don’t trust your employees, why did you hire them? And that’s that’s my soapbox moments. Like, if you don’t trust your employees, why did you hire them? And that’s, that goes into some deeper work with those leaders going, why don’t I entrust my employees is it a lot of it is fear of if something falls apart, then my boss is going to be on me because my employees are screwing up. And it’s there’s a lot of baggage that comes into a lot of the roles that we bring into and or come into and it’s, it’s a challenge, if you’re afraid of your teams are burning out communication is a big thing is talk with your people. And yes, that takes time. That’s not something that is a five second fix. I know a lot of us would love nothing better to say, okay, quick email Problem solved. And that’s got to go deeper than that you need to have conversations with your key people and not just fill out a survey because you won’t get the nuances of it and says, okay, How’s work going for you? What can we do as an employee based organization? To make it easier for you? Do you have everything you need to be able to do your job? Do we need to look at the time that you’re working? What’s going on? How are things at home, is there something we can do to help but there and those organizations that are doing that are going to come out of this situation stronger than they entered this pandemic, the ones that are still trying to go with the old Henry Ford assembly line mentality, those are the companies that are going to have some struggles, because if there’s enough organizations that are doing it out of the way, all those key people you have are gonna go, boy, it’s better to be over there, and they’re gonna leave, and then then you’re stuck. So it’s an opportunity for organizations to really deep think about how they do things and figure out what the best way is for their employees, their customers and leadership.

Tim Kubiak 43:28
Yeah, there’s a lot of different ways for people to start to consume your material. We’ve talked about the podcast, right? But you also have an online course or series though you might talk a little bit about those to kind of young this all home.

Michael Levitt 43:42
Yeah, I started doing some coursework because for me, it was the way that I could do teaching and and do it in a way where more people could have access to it. Because my time is, I only get I only have that 24 hour clock. I didn’t get the 27 hour clock no one will sell it to me so I have to

Tim Kubiak 44:02
deal Don’t worry. Awesome. Cool. Exactly. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 44:06
I’m looking it’s like wow, that numbers a little closer. That one interesting. Okay, it still spins the same way. That’s weird. It’s what yeah, it’s like 2602 Okay, all right. What What time is that really? Is that timezone? Is it like Newfoundland, where it’s a half hour different than everybody else? Anyway,

Tim Kubiak 44:23
that kills people by the way,

Michael Levitt 44:24
believe me, yeah, exactly. It throws everybody I was like, what time is that? And then of course, if we get real quick if we get rid of daylight savings time, if we don’t all do it, it’s going to be an absolute mess but we’ll deal with that challenge. We got enough going on this year. But but the burnout you know, the courses I’m wearing the first one you know that I have out there I have another one successful starts your day, which is, you know, similar to what we talked about before, but this burnout proof your life course was one that I did not too long ago and what he did is I take the word burnout and for each letter, I had A topic where B is for boundaries use for unhappy artists for rhythm and is for neglect. Oh is for offside because it loves sports. The other U is upheaval. And then t is time. And I go into each of those things that I talked about how all of those words tie into your burnout. And from that they’re working on additional courses and recording them for boundaries and working from home boundaries and getting more rhythm in your life. So each of those things will have its own little course. So there’ll be constant courses that are going to be added to this because, again, people are consuming that in it. Ironically, today. At the time of this recording, it’s national online learning day, didn’t know that day existed. But I found that out on the day of the calendar day, I’m like, Oh, that’s cool. It’s also cheese bread day. So

Tim Kubiak 45:53
I’m more in favor of that.

Michael Levitt 45:55
Yeah, he’s like, that sounds pretty good. It’s like, yes, some cheese bread while you’re taking a course that they harmonize. So they do. But yeah, that you know, that course is available, and I’ll have the link but for users on there, use the code 90 and i n e t y and you get 90% off of the course works out to be like $29 for it. And you know, it’s it’s easy to follow and guidelines and things and it finds what burnout is and the science to look for it. And what happens when your life is out of rhythm. Or when you neglect your life or your life is offsides, or upheaval in your burnout, you know that situation mine I know, it was like my life was literally upside down. And that’s not how we want to live. So this gives them insights onto things and some things you can do immediately to kind of right size things and get everything back to normal. And, and then of course, you know, the deeper work that I did that I recommend people do as well is you know, start peeling back the layers and going okay, why did I burn out? You know, first let’s get you stopped from being burned out, get you back to a normal state then do the deeper work on why did you burn out? And then by doing that you can learn techniques to make sure you never burn out again. Because after my burnout situation, I don’t want to go down that road ever again. I don’t want people to do it either.

Tim Kubiak 47:18
Yeah. And that’s some scary work, right? That’s not a walk in the park kind of work that deeper work, because I went through with a therapist last year. Right, that deeper work. In my case, when in some really historic things that were beginning of work, career and ambition and drive. And there were actually a couple times where I put my hand up said, I don’t want to know why I care about that. Because it makes me tick. And I had to pick my pick my battles, so to speak. Yeah,

Michael Levitt 47:47
and it is deep work in it, because it’s dealing with potentially some past traumas, you know, the people that I’ve worked with a lot of a lot of things go back decades, for some and you know, like I said, I’m reformed people pleaser, I know why I was about people pleasing. I know, what caused it, you know, the upbringing I had, and the role models I had and what I saw that they did, but I also saw what it did to them as well. And trying to help others without taking care of themselves. First, I know what the costs were for those people. And it’s just but doing it in a way of making sure that you are loving yourself and not being judgmental, you did the best you could at that time, with the background, your beliefs, your thoughts, all of the things that you did, you don’t want to beat up yourself. I mean, society does a good enough job of that for us. We got to take care of ourselves, because we were never with anybody more than we are cells. Doesn’t matter how you could be, you could be a twin, and always live with your twin. But guess what, you have always been yourself 100% of the time and you take care of that person and it’s to make yourself better. And when you do that, it has such a huge ripple effect and a positive one. Because everything you do is easier and you enjoy life more you taste life again, and I want to see people burning out that’s a big thing that goes by the waist sizes they don’t enjoy life. And that’s no way to live your life even during a pandemic can be enjoyable. You just have to find the things that you enjoy doing and and do the things you can

Tim Kubiak 49:31
Yeah. What should I have asked you that I forgot to or missed?

Michael Levitt 49:37
Hmm. What did you miss? Um Well, a lot of people asked me, you know, after I rebuilt my life and rebuilt my career and was successful and doing a great job, you know why? What I choose to walk away from that and go into this work because this is not easy work. It’s You know, putting on a podcast show and writing and speaking whether it’s going across the country and speaking on stages or doing it virtually, there’s a lot of preparation that you have to do and understanding who you’re talking to the audiences and all of that. It’s a lot of work. And people ask me, Well, why did you choose to go that way instead of this, because I know what society would look like if burnout wasn’t where it is, right now. If people less people were burned out, then those people would be happier and healthier, which means the products and services they create will be better. Because right now, they might be good, they’re not great, because the people that are working aren’t their best. And that’s when you start seeing issues with things and lost creativity. Even during the Great Recession that we had over a decade ago, a lot of new organizations and businesses and products and services that we use today didn’t exist prior to that. They were creative, and they created some things, even right now, during this pandemic, my hope is there’s going to be some incredible creations that come from this, that are going to make our lives better down the road. But if they’re stressed and burned out, those opportunities won’t happen. And we lose as a society for that. So that’s why I talk about burnout so much, and I guide people on how to stop it in its tracks. And then hopefully, they’ll be courageous enough to start doing the work to see what led up to it so they can prevent it from happening again, if they doing that. Then my mission is I want to say complete, but it’s definitely fulfilling because I know I’m helping people live better lives, which has a huge ripple effect for their families, the people that work for society, their community and everybody in you know, it’s a case of, you know, taking the the tragedy that happened to me, and using it as a way to help people avoid their own year worst case scenario. So that’s why I do it.

Tim Kubiak 52:04
That’s a great reason, right? Talk about mission driven, knowing your purpose. That’s beautiful. Thank you. Michael, thank you so much for the time, thank you for being here today. You know, when his new book comes out, it’ll be set out in the weekly newsletter as well. So we’ll make sure everybody knows where to get that and thanks again.

Michael Levitt 52:22
Thank you, Tim. Appreciate it.

Tim Kubiak 52:28
Once again, we’d like to thank Michael for being on the show today. The links are at the top of the show notes. You can find the show notes, the bonus materials and everything else at or at Bowties and Business .com thanks again for listening. Until next week. Happy selling!

Tim Kubiak is a Business Geek, Nomad, Aging Metal Head, Nerd, & Coffee Addict. Plus the only big guy at Hot Yoga. For over 25 years he's been building high-performance sales teams globally. With over 2 billion in lifetime sales in goods and services. Tim works as a coach mentor with Founders, Business Owners, Executives, and High Performing individuals to transform companies, bring new solutions to market and achieve their professional goals.


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