I cover burnout on Day 9. I do this because I’ve been a poster child for executive illness, burnout, or bad luck for the past 11 years. Whatever you want to call it, the fact remains that I got very sick in early 2001 and have not been well since. It has been a life changing experience. It’s personal. Also this personal experience has allowed me to see that every startup I’ve been in has had someone “hit the wall”. This is very real.
My first foray in talking about this was in 2007. I found this topic very hard to let out of the closet, but I was rewarded with many people sharing their experiences with me.
What’s the point? I want everyone to have a positive startup experience. To do that they need to take care of their bodies and minds so that they can endure the startup grind. I want everyone to be aware that a startup environment is hazardous, much more hazardous than your typical job. I want them to be aware that the injury statistics are more like pro sports. Everyone plays hurt. They’ve got to think of themselves a “pro workers” and act accordingly. They need a support network on par with a professional athlete.
The 2011 Experience. Overall I received more engagement with this hour than any other. This presentation gets everyones attention. Very little typing or looking at the laptop screen happens. Everyone laughs when I talk about scheduling dates with their significant other. They also sigh when I mention that this has to be “priority one”, they can’t miss it (period), and it’s got to be booked in their “work calendar”. The comments, and questions, are all over the map. Some take it as “I’ve got to work even harder than I thought”, others take it as “Thanks for telling me that I’ll have a better work/life balance than 100/0, 70/30 sounds ok”.