Ep 105: Can We Eliminate Burnout?, with Chris McLean

Sep 8, 2021

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Can We Eliminate Burnout?, with Chris McLean

On this episode of THRIVE — sponsored by Workamajig — Kelly and Chris McLean discuss boundaries, setting the right example as leaders, and the possibility of eliminating burnout at agencies.

Episode 105 Links

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Duration: 43:43

Kelly: So welcome back to Thrive, your agency resource. Today, we’re going to be diving into a favorite topic among agency leaders and their employees, maybe a little more for their employees. But the question is, is it possible to actually eliminate burnout among creative technology, marketing, advertising folks, right? It’s just so entrenched and ingrained in our culture and has been for a really long time. My guest today is Chris McLean, who is a fellow conscious transformation coach based in Australia. He’s also the host of the Peak Performance and Predictable Growth Show. If you don’t know that podcast, definitely check that out wherever you consume your podcasts. My episode on his show is going to be out later this year. So definitely stay tuned for that. Chris, welcome to the show. I am really excited and have been looking forward to this conversation for a while.


Chris: Yes, thank you. Thank you. Good to reciprocate and jump over onto your show. Everything feels like last week and six months ago. It was some time, not that long ago, but they’re good to pop over. It was fascinating on that episode, just chatting to you about how aligned we were in what we do, sort of who we are, our past, history and our ages, and that there was a whole bunch of alignment in between. So yeah, great to be on your show and sharing with your audience.


Kelly: What we would say in the States, my brother from another mother.


Chris: Yes. That’s the one yeah, sister from another mother.


Kelly: Right. So yeah, it was really fascinating to me also that I feel like we are probably and maybe this is not true. But I don’t know of any other agency coach or coach specializing in the agency world that focuses on consciousness and trauma-informed work, and business growth kind of all together or at the nexus of those things. So what’s not surprising to me is kind of how each of us found our way to this path, because that was such a similar journey, as you just mentioned. So can you talk a little bit about your former agency experience and what that was like, and maybe touch a little bit on the personal side of that as to how you got to the same place that I got to on the other side of the world?


Chris: Yes. So my agency journey started, effectively 2002. I launched my agency with my best mates. So just straight out of university. I had studied marketing business and advertising during university and I’d sort of done other ways like graphic design and creative studies. And I always thought I’d be the creative mad men style, and be a creative in an ad agency. That’s kind of what I thought I always wanted to do. Actually, we went into university, and during uni, we did some pitches, we did some work with some local agencies, here in Melbourne and got a bit of an insight to, I guess, agency people and agency life. And by the end of uni I thought, the fact that I don’t want to work in an agency, that sounds horrendous. This looks like, what am I doing? And then I started an agency. I sort of worked, took a couple of years. There was bartending and cleaning, working around, what am I going to do with my life? And then yeah, sort of my best mate, myself. He’d studied multimedia, which essentially back then, was kind of digital like websites. I had a bit of that toolkit. And I had a bit of business in advertising and creativity. And essentially, we launched a multimedia company, again, because digital wasn’t really digital back then. We’re working with Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Dreamweaver before it was acquired by Adobe. And then we started sort of basically hacking together websites and flash animations, and no hand-coding tables to build websites and all this stuff. WordPress, and Wix and all these wonderful tools that make all that super easy didn’t exist. And essentially, for me, I’d never really done a lot of that work. So everything was self-taught. So I learned Photoshop. I learned Flash. I learned how to animate in Flash. I learned how to do CSS coding and style sheets in HTML, just sort of eventually down the line, a bit of PHP. I had picked this stuff up because we had to. And it was really traditional, classic entrepreneurship to get a client in. Yeah, sure. We can do that. And then kind of figure it out, jump on, build the plane while we’re flying it.


Kelly: That’s everybody’s story though, right?


Chris: Yes. But I think it’s such a good skill set to build. And for me, I think that is one of the strongest skills and biggest strengths that I have and I see in agency owners and people that run good businesses, that capability to just kind of crack on and go. I‘ll figure it out as I go. And that definitely is a skill set. There’s a mindset and a skill set and a resourcefulness to that, having that capacity just to go, “It doesn’t matter. Somehow I’ll figure this out, and I’ll make it work. And we’ll get into, I guess, how that risk and consequence kind of taps into flow state and peak performance and sort of altered states of consciousness later in the show. But that’s sort of the beginning of that kind of stuff, where you can sort of step into risk and stepping to consequences are sort of photos of a really good focusing mechanism. Biologically, it gets you super focused, and you figure it out, access more information. You sort of expand. Your consciousness expands; literally expands, so you can tap into higher sources of information. And that’s sort of what’s going on there. I didn’t know that back then. But that’s kind of just how we naturally kind of evolved.  And then that business sort of evolved. Over the next seven, eight years, we sort of became essentially kind of digital. We sort of brought in some video. So we’re doing full service digital, for servers, video production. 2009, 2010, we sort of brought in some more senior people. And we sort of shifted the business into emerging tech. So moving from websites, and animation and video production, we kind of picked up that skill set, and sort of saw where the market was going and moved into augmented reality, gesture control, touchscreens, large scale projections, interactive eye tracking. So really, really cool cutting edge interactive technologies. And essentially commercializing that stuff for advertising for clients. So building gaming platforms, essentially, where we could create interactive fun games on Windows for retail displays, or within shopping centers, or malls, or online sort of activities. So that was a really interesting place that was super early for that stuff. So 2009, 2010, sort of augmented reality and that kind of stuff was really, really new. Nobody else was really selling it, particularly here in Australia. No one was really offering that, little line to try to commercialize and productize. That kind of thing. And that was kind of that next level of challenge of how do you sell something to somebody that literally doesn’t exist. So we’re literally going in and picking out case studies of BMW, which was done like a little QR code based augmented reality car at the time where augmented reality was all kind of QR code based. And you hold it up and like a cart, little BMW would drive around. So it was selling, by bringing that kind of work and going, hey, look, this is what’s possible, we can do this for your brand. So it’s a really interesting sales process of trying to sell something that there were a few examples of, no one had really done it. People didn’t really understand and trying to sell people on this thing that was like, this is amazing. I promise. It’s amazing. So that was always really, really interesting, again, to be on that sort of front end of something and trying to understand, how do you convince somebody? How do you show the benefits of something that people don’t really know what it is? So that journey was really fun. And that sort of took me to 2012 where I’ve moved the business to the Middle East. So by that time, we’ve been running a major airline out of Abu Dhabi, out of the UAE for several years. And this is sort of where the interesting part of the story comes. So we’d sort of switched over socially. So the technical part, I moved to run the business locally in Abu Dhabi to support that client locally and sort of try to build and grow the business in that region. And by 2016, the sort of market fit wasn’t great. I stayed in the Middle East until 2018. So it’s been six years out there, that part of the business sort of folded in 2016. And the business is still running now. Locally, UK, USA, sort of shifted more into interactive gaming platforms in shopping centers, so kids gaming platforms, in retail, sort of for furniture outfits, for interactive zones for kids, that sort of thing. So businesses are still running. So 2012, I had a couple things. Those are some personal stuff that started to show up for me and that was sort of 2010, 2011. I’d come out of an eight year relationship. So basically that entire started of the business. I‘ve been in an eight year relationship that sort of ended around 2010, 2011. My parents were living in the UAE. They were living in Abu Dhabi. They got divorced in 2009, 2010. And then my dad, actually in 2012, he passed from brain cancer. So he got a brain tumor in 2011. And a year later, in 2012, he passed away from that. So it’s kind of all of this stuff going on personally. But then in terms of burnout on the agency side, with all of that growth, because I‘d started the business myself. And literally, when you start something and you are the coffee boy, you’re doing the taxes, you’re doing the finance, you’re doing the work, you’re doing everything, you’re doing the hiring, sort of end up as a bit of a jack of all trades. And for me, that’s what I really liked, that kind of Renaissance man kind of style where I could do a bit of everything. And I quite enjoy doing a bit of web design and doing some graphic design and doing a bit of sales, doing some presentations. I enjoyed doing that, as we grew this kind of this necessity as you grow to become focused on a single role. So for me, I really found that difficult to slot into an individual role. So I was strategy director for a while. That was kind of a title like, well, I think I’ll go into strategy director, because we sort of brought in a CEO, we had MDS, and we had, that a petition out the workload rather than kind of doing everything. But I found that it was sort of around that same time. So 2010, 11, 12, as we were growing, there’s that necessity to narrow down and then niche down roles. And personally, that was like, where do I fit? Like, what am I doing? Where do I fit in this business now, and I think this is kind of a conversation that can happen with agency leaders when you have built this thing. And then you either bring in a senior team, or you get to a point where you have to scale in like, well, where do I fit in this thing now? So that was sort of that one question? And the other question was, like, do I actually want to do this anymore? Am I part of the problem, right? So in terms of a personal growth story, so very early in the business, probably a few years in when we were trying to grow and scale and then change the business, there’s kind of two routes you can take, and you still have to take. And for me, naturally, I felt I was naturally inclined to go, well, if I make myself better, then that’ll make the business better. That was the logical path, if I can get better. So sort of tapping into Tony Robbins and these sorts of mentors and books and programs and developing, looking into NLP and personal development and personal growth and mindset and all this kind of good stuff. And that was the path that I’ve figured was if I get better, if I get more confident, if I show up in a better way, if my mind’s more accurate, if I can be more attentive, I can make myself better, then that’s going to catalyze into better business performance, rather than necessarily go, what’s the business system that I need to build? So there’s always a balance. You got to do the business stuff, but for me, it was like, if I’m better, the business will be better. So by this time, this sort of burned out 2011, 12, time shift going on in my life, probably that was sort of almost 10 years, sort of into also a personal growth and personal discovery journey. So my mind was already quite into expanding consciousness. And I‘d studied Buddhism for five years. I‘ve been going to Mahayana temple here in Melbourne, sort of on the weekend and meditating, and that was sort of the path for philosophy, Eastern religion. Wayne Dyer, always sort of greater Louise Hay, Abraham Hicks, all this stuff was sort of rattling around. So sort of, I understood the importance of expanded consciousness. So again, that was coming on, and was just sort of trying to tap into all of that stuff and like, who am I? What is the meaning of life? What am I going to contribute? What’s my legacy? What am I here for? We’ve got to get agency growth. We’ve got to get clients. We’ve got to sell. We’ve got to do that kind of hard 3 million revenue. That was always this kind of tension. And that’s where I sort of talk about with clients. There’s nothing worse than when you build a business to a point and who you need to be in the businesses going this way, and who you feel like you are, personally is going this way, and that chasm just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And that essentially, is burnout. And for me, that’s sort of this, I call it like this existential version of burnout, this sort of existential burnout of where it’s a bit more psychologically driven than like physical, painful burnout. There’s sort of various different types of burnout. But for me that division, that’s something that assists showing up, particularly a lot in creative agencies, that divergence between who I feel I need to be day to day to do my business, and who I feel like and when I go home at night, and when those two things start to diverged, that’s when problems start to show up. So for me that’s basically what was happening around that time in 2012, was this opportunity. I felt like I just had to go somewhere to escape and get out and go. And that’s why I went, if I could, I’d go to Abu Dhabi, why not? So sort of shifts over there, moving my life over there for a while, which was amazing. My fiancé is still over in Dubai, trying to get her out on a visa. So my life was amazing over there to come back in 2018, for various reasons. But yeah, so that whole journey in that whole recognition of this stuff is real. And this happens. That’s sort of what led me to that sort of existential burnout. Who am I? What am I doing? Yeah, switched me off of wanting to do the business. In my mind, I didn’t want to be doing that business anymore. So I started doing side hustles. I started doing affiliate marketing, looking at digital marketing and side hustling and doing other stuff and putting my focus and attention into other things. And that meant that my work in the business probably started to lapse, and that now made the excuses of market fit and blah, blah, blah. But knowing what I know now, having been applying the strategies and systems to that business, would have been a much different result. But I think it still comes down to I didn’t want to be in that business anymore. And that was the real catalyst. So I think that self-awareness is the most critical thing people can really start to understand. Self-awareness is number one. If you don’t know what you actually want, you’re going to have some sort of problem.


Kelly: Yes. It’s so interesting to me that you talk about existential burnout. I didn’t even know that that’s exactly where we’re going to go in the conversation today. But that makes a lot of sense. And I’m sure that you know, because we do something so similar, pretty much exactly the same thing for a living now, I imagine that you like me, we have lots and lots of conversations with agency owners, regardless of the type of agency, and a lot of them come in saying the same thing. Like, help me figure out if I even want to keep doing this. I feel like I’m either not needed anymore. Or I‘m questioning whether I can keep doing this, or maybe I’m just getting too old in this industry or whatever. There’s a million differences. I mean, it’s almost like everybody has a different response, or a different reason behind that. But I like this idea of existential burnout. It’s really interesting. For the people who I think are the leaders of the agencies, that makes more sense to call it bad or to use that term. For the employees, though, I think it’s also important that we’re modeling behavior as leaders, where they’re not just burning out literally day to day, sort of what I call the culture of overwhelm as the norm. And I have a lot of agents that I work with. That is unfortunately the case.


Chris: Yes. Toxic culture.


Kelly: Yes, that toxic, hostile, or it’s just we are on 24 hours a day, or the leadership team isn’t very boundaried. So they’ll send an email and expect a response at 9pm, like all of these different things. So what are your thoughts around things like that from the employees’ standpoint? 


Chris: Yes. It’s interesting. I mean, the burnout rates. There was a study done, I think 2018 or 2019, and the burnout rate in the larger agencies was, may not be significant in talking high 76, 77% burnout rates.


Kelly: 77 was what I’ve seen.


Chris: Yeah, I mean, that’s not a small thing. That’s most of your stuff, right? That’s three quarters of people working in agencies that are burnt out to some degree. So it’s not a maybe. It’s a systemic problem. And it comes from a lot of the people running those bigger agencies in particular have come through that. That’s been the culture forever from Mad Men till today. This sort of always on, always switched on, always mandatorily available, kind of been the way it’s been. Why does that exist? I guess you can sort of think why that sort of client leads the engagement, a lot of the time.


Kelly: That was my number one.


Chris: For me, that is the problem. And that’s where the solution lies for meI can get to that. But in terms of the agency owners, not having that boundary when the agency owner, when the leadership team acts that way, and has that expectation of their people. A lot of agency owners there’s a tendency, and again, this is a message generalization for some sort of a more type A type of personality, hard charging, always on, don’t need to sleep, I’ve just, I’m happy, I’m really happy and enthusiastic about just plugging away and smashing work. And always working, working, working. There can be that tendency for creatives and agency owners to come from that personality type, more than your docile type base. There’s much more of a balance now, I think. But classically, I think that they can be a bit more of that kind of hard charger, happy to work that way mentality. But there’s that important distinction of you might be happy to work that way. But actually understanding that the opposite of that is actually going to make you more effective. And there’s this sort of psycho biology, biologically. There’s this kind of weird dichotomy between the felt sense of this kind of hustle grind culture where I feel like when I’m just working, working, working, smashing it, I’m crushing it and doing the work all the time.


Kelly: All my favorite words.   


Chris: When I’m doing that, I’m in that zone, it feels like I’m being really productive, and I’m getting shit done. It’s a real sense of accomplishment and productivity. But actually, when you look at it, when you chart it, there’s no overtime. There is a bit of an uptick at the front. You can kind of hustle your way into productivity and effectiveness. But there’s a massive decline over time, compared to sort of a steady state. If you look at some sort of someone working 60, 70 hours a week yet, you can begin to get really good productivity. But over time, the system just goes like, biologically, we’re not wired to operate like that. So that felt kind like you’ve been really productive over time. But if you cut work hours and did a steady state, 35 hour weeks, seven hour day, overtime, it is much more stable and much more effective. So productivity is just shortening work hours. And, again, we’re hoping we can get into why that sort of is the case, why putting boundaries around things actually makes us more productive. Essentially, the tasks fit the time allocated to them. So we’re happy to work 70 hours a week, guess what we’ll find 70 hours of work to do. If you work a 35 hour week, you’ll probably get the same if not more work done in 35 hours, because you’ve got an end time, you’ve got a due date, sort of kicks off a whole lot of internal biology, a neuro chemistry that makes you get stuff done within that shortened time. But again, until quite recently, we haven’t known that. It’s only since the 90s, very recently, the last couple of decades, sort of the science of this, that we were actually able to peer under the hood of these states and actually look at people working and look at what’s going on under the hood. What neurochemistry, what neurobiology, what’s happening in the brain when we’re working. And because of that it can now decode that and go well, if that’s what’s happening, and this is what we want to happen, how we can do things better that are going to create the conditions for us to be in that more optimized state.


Kelly: I wouldn’t have believed it myself, to be honest. I mean, from what I was doing as an agency leader, and kind of, even like, especially when I was in the weeds and, and all of that, I definitely found 70, 80 hours a week worth of work to do. But now as a consultant and a coach, I don’t work more than 30 hours a week. And I would probably argue that I probably get more done in my weeks now than I did back then. And it’s literally almost half. So it’s really interesting to me, but something that you said kind of stuck with me. It’s like if we are trying to achieve more productivity, and we’re saying that with all the new science that has come out over the last couple of decades that we can actually achieve that by working less, if we keep on this kind of even keel, well, then all of it should support a transformative culture, a transforming of culture. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to really grasp and grok this concept?


Chris: Yes, big question. I think it’s just so ingrained, right? And often this comes back to this, is just how it’s done. It’s one of those things like if you work in an agency, you’ve got to be ready to work on Sunday nights. You’ve got to be ready to work.


Kelly: I can’t even imagine that right now.


Chris: Yeah, that expectation of always being available, it just hasn’t quite shifted to being the norm yet. And definitely from people that I interview on my show, and people that I work with, there’s much more awareness, particularly when you talk about talking to millennials and Gen Z’s, new generations coming through. There’s a much greater prevalence of looking after your wellness and your health and having that, as a health first approach. Probably, again, generalization, sort of our generation, maybe 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. Those generations are just so baked into that way of working, that the idea of actually being more productive and more effective by doing less, it just doesn’t compute. It doesn’t map to the set felt experience.


Kelly: Right. So then that’s the question like, how do we create that? Right? How do we map that? Because we’re talking about here, like, how can we eliminate burnout? Is it really just as simple as sort of the all-encompassing self-care solution? The self-care answer?  


Chris: Yeah, I mean, essentially, we’ve got to shift that felt experience because as humans, we understand by what we experience, and people that were stuck in this kind of hustle and grind. And we believe that is the most effective way because that’s what we’ve experienced. I‘ve worked 70 hour weeks forever, and I’ve grown my business, right? I‘ve smashed 60, 70 hours, weeks. I crushed it. My team crushes it. I forced my team to crush it. We work weekends. We do what we have to do. And my business has been successful. So  there would sort of make this correlation between that approach and that result.


Kelly: Oh, that’s a really interesting point.  


Chris: So there could be a false correlation. Right? It could have been that I worked half that time and grew my business twice as big, or I worked half the time and my staff was more productive, therefore, my business was more productive. So it’s kind of, we get into this just thinking error, right? Essentially, it’s a thinking error. And then to correct that thinking error and get that experience of shit. I just worked a 35 hour week; I took Friday off and actually got more work done on Monday morning than I usually do in a whole week, right? Until you’ve experienced that, like you said for yourself, you wouldn’t have believed it until you experienced it. That’s kind of just the human condition until you’ve had that experience of working less and achieving more.

Kelly: Yeah, it’s interesting to me, because there are so many agencies where we see this like, like you said before the 77% burnout rate. And we see the attrition that happens, right? We see employees come and go. Yes, the client is “happy”. And yes, we’re delivering and yes, we’re meeting our revenue goals and all of that, but I think what we’re not taking into consideration with this is that attrition, or is the wellbeing of the human that we employ. Right? And so if we were actually to quantify that in some way, when you start looking at the lagging metrics, like the profitability and all of that, if you were able to quantify it, your numbers would be much lower. Right? It’s just an interesting way that something about what you just said, just made me think of the fact that we are, it is kind of like false information. We’re not looking at the right metrics. And we’re certainly not taking all of the holistic view into account. And I think that’s where my main focus is when I’m working with agencies and I know that yours too.


Chris: Yes. It’s a hidden cost, right? That human component. So how do you quantify what is the cost of say, I‘m your employee, I’m your head designer. I‘m working 70 hour weeks. I actually hate that. I don’t like it. My body’s hurting. I‘m not sleeping. I‘ve got problems at home. I have never seen my wife and kid. My wife’s complaining to me about never being home. I used to love playing guitar and going rock climbing. I haven’t done that for years. Right? That was my passion. That was the thing that lit me on fire. I don’t get to do that anymore. Because I‘m working. I‘m earning a shitload of money. Great. I‘m on 200k a year, I’m supporting my family. That’s great. But what am I doing with it? I don’t have any, right? There’s no way to spend it. Right, I‘ve got a beautiful house, I got my stuff. But I don’t have time to go on holiday. I don’t take trips. So there’s this. Again, this sort of existential thing creeps in of, well, if that person is so unhappy, and they’re showing up to their work, and I said, when you’re in that state, when you’re in that sort of level of burnout, you may be contributing a sub 50%, 60%, maybe 20, 30% of your capability. So for every hour that I am working for you, I’m giving you 40% effort, and 40% output, multiplying that across a 30 person team. That’s you losing 50, 60, 70% productivity from every person every hour.


Kelly: Not to mention, you’re only talking about productivity, what about if you’re my creative director, how much creativity and innovation and big ideas am I losing out on because you’re not sleeping well, and you’re not happy and fulfilled and all of that. So you’re just executing deliverables at that point.


Chris: Punching the clock in.


Kelly: Punching the clock, yeah.  


Chris: Yes. So again, if you could quantify that and say 77% of your workforce is burnt out, and three quarters of your workforce is performing subpar. Let’s call it 60, 70% of my potential. So there’s 20, 30% potential productivity effectiveness in every single employee. Multiply that across every hour that those employees are working across the year. That’s a lot of lost productivity. That’s a lot of lost revenue generation, right? Purely because I‘m kind of, I’m throwing it in. I‘m not doing the work. And the creativity is actually something that’s kind of the neck, that’s purely just my work performance. That second piece, as you’re saying creativity, creativity needs space. Right? Creativity literally operates better in space. When I‘m thinking, thinking, thinking, doing, doing, doing, not sleeping, not resting, stressed, overwhelmed. All of this stuff going on in my head. There’s no room for creativity. Creativity needs the space to breathe and go. That thing over here and that thing over here. That’s the connection that needs space, that needs me going for a walk, that needs me sitting and meditating for 10, 15 minutes during my lunch break. Creativity thrives in space, hustle, grind 60, 70 hour weeks, it’s just not conducive to creativity.


Kelly: Creativity dies in that environment.  


Chris: Yeah, which is exactly what we’re trying to do. That is our job as creative business owners, to be creative. So it’s the wrong approach if our goal is creativity, then we need to set the conditions and schedule ourselves and optimize ourselves for that result. But instead, we optimize ourselves for time, because that’s what we build, right? We build time. So I want to maximize the time worked. If I work more time, I can build more money. Then that really is the shift. That’s the big shift.


Kelly: So I was just going to say, when we’re talking about eliminating burnout, what we’re actually talking about is disrupting the whole or is this the way that it is sort of a model, right? We’re talking about disrupting that mad men style agency mentality. And I do see it actually happening. I have a few clients, past and current that they really do value that time. They understand that creativity needs the breathing room that you’re talking about. And they’re focused on making sure that their employees are really well rested and really well taken care of and feel like they have a life work integration. Yeah, so I do see it. It feels to me a little bit like moving a giant rock up a hill because it’s happening, but it’s really difficult. And so I feel like, once we get to the point where we have mass adoption of that as the new norm, then we’re good. But in the interim, as we’re pushing this rock up the hill, what are some of the small actionable takeaways that you might be able to suggest for agency leaders as they’re trying to say, all right, well, I got to start somewhere, like I can’t change the whole thing. But how can I impact my culture in a positive way?


Chris: I mean, the simplest way to put it is take a break, right? Build more spare time, free time, literally, calendarized free time into your work schedule. Take Fridays off. Take the weekend off. Literally, I will not work on the weekend, laptop down, phone off. You need that time for your body just to reboot, for your psychology to kind of refresh, go get a massage. Self-care, essentially. The more self-care that you can start to bake into your schedule, and ritualize it so that every week, you’re starting to bake this stuff into your schedule.


Kelly: You’re saying your schedule, but you mean the leaders themselves and modeling and implementing that for the employees? Just to be very clear about who we’re talking about. We’re talking about everybody?


Chris: Yes. It has to start at the top right. If I go right for myself, I’m going to take the weekend off. I‘m going to take Friday off. I can’t just do that and then have my team working 100 hours to pick up the slack. That’s why I said it is systemic, but as I said, as the agency owner, I have to get that felt experience first. Then I go shit, this works. I feel so much better. I‘m so much more creative because I took Friday afternoon off, or because I’ve shortened my workday down. I‘ve got more focused attention. So that’s one thing basic, more self-care. Take more breaks. Look after yourself more, sleep better. Number one thing is sleep. Good night’s sleep, seven, eight hours of sleep, which means eight to nine hours in bed, which I know sounds insane to most people where they’re picking out four, five, six hours.


Kelly: That sounds like heaven. That sounds like every night for me.  


Chris: Yeah, exactly. Again, until you’ve sort of experienced that. I’ve slept for four or five hours. I‘ll sleep when I’m dead. Right? That sort of idea. But the truth is that you’re probably going to die quicker if you don’t sleep more. Sleep is such an essential part. And it’s actually a very, very active activity. When you’re sleeping, you are not just passed out. Right? There’s a whole lot that goes on, sort of biologically, when you’re sleeping, you’re resting and digesting, you’re repairing and recovering. It’s a very, very active state. And when you skip that, when you miss that every night, when you’re not getting seven to eight hours every single night, the residual effect, I was reading a book called Why We SleepI was reading an amazing study. Inside that book in Sicily, they’ve got some groups of people together to do this sleep study, and one group slept less than five to six hours a night and one group slept seven, eight hours every night. And purely on the metric of immune system response, the group that slept seven to eight hours every night had something like a 20 to 30% increase in immune response. So purely by sleeping seven, eight hours a 30% uptick, you’re healthier. They’re healthier because the system is recovering and repairing and the immune system is doing all of this great stuff and requires that eight hour period. That’s why sort of that cycle is an eight hour sleep cycle, right? We need that time to get that immune system boost. The only other part of that study, the people getting five to six hours, it is not that I care. I got six hours tonight. I‘ll sleep 10 hours tomorrow night and catch up. Once you’ve lost it, you actually can’t pick up that immunity again. So if you lose it, you’ve lost it. So this is why you need to get that seven, eight hours every single night consistently, because you can’t make it up on the weekends. So this is a really interesting insight that came out of that study. If you’re not getting it, you can’t make that time up. And we’re talking about immunity. And today, your immune system is pretty important, right? Your health and your immunity is very, very important. So purely by sleeping less, you’re destroying your immune system, which has all sorts of effects. When your immune system goes down, you feel worse, you get sick more often. If your employees are overwhelmed and stressed, not sleeping and sick, your attendance rates are going to drop again, more lost productivity purely by not recognizing that I want my people to sleep better. I want them to work when they feel like working. I want them to show up every day at 100%, not start the week at 100%. And by Tuesday, they’re at 60%. By Friday, they’re at 10%. And they start the next week at 10%. And this is an ongoing decimation of their performance. So sleep is a massive one, self-care, getting a massage, taking a bath, going for walks, taking a break, and literally baking this stuff into your weekly schedule so it’s on your calendar. That’s a very high level. Eating well, all the basics, all of the stuff that you know but you are not doing because you’re working. Like we all know that we should work out and eat healthy, but we don’t do it because we’re focused on I can’t go, I got to work. So it’s actually doing that stuff and literally putting it onto your calendar. And honoring that time. Ritualizing that time, honoring that space. This is as important to my business as making sales calls. That’s really where you want to get that switch to, taking a bath on a Sunday night is as important to my business and my business growth. It’s going to make me more money than the sales calls I’m going to do on Monday morning. You can make that switch. That’s how it’s become systemic. And we can change the culture one by one.


Kelly: I like it. So the answer is yes, we can eliminate burnout. We actually know exactly how to do it. We just have to do it. And as leaders, we have to model that for everyone who is under our care because as agency owners, like our people are our product. Right? That’s basically their output is what we sell. So take  care of them. Chris, thank you so much for being on the show. I really, really appreciate it. I could talk to you for hours.


Chris: Yeah, it’s always that case. Like, let’s just wrap for another couple hours. We’ll have to make another call another time. Thank you so much. It’s always right in the pocket of the stuff that I love to talk about. I know it’s a passion for you as well. So it’s always good to share insights with new people.


Kelly: Absolutely. And if you like what Chris has to say, definitely check out his Peak Performance and Predictable Growth show wherever you listen to podcasts. 

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