Identifying Burnout Is The Hardest Part
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big music guy. While I mainly listen to rap, over the past few years I’ve been getting way more into house music (my wife wasn’t thrilled about this initially but she’s slowly getting on board…she recently told me she’d go to a DJ set with me if the DJ was “really really good.”)
Over the past 1-2 months, the explosion of UK DJ Fred Again has been pretty fascinating to watch—I remember randomly seeing some clips on TikTok of him doing a Boiler Room set, and then next thing you know he’s doing a pop up rave with Swedish House Mafia in NYC.
I’m mentioning this because a) everyone seems to be at Burning Man, so this might be pretty relevant b) you should absolutely listen to the set, which you can find one Soundcloud here (shoutout to Luca, whoever you are, for cutting up the set into tracks) and c) I think it’s a testament to the power of social media. Apparently before this Boiler Room set I had liked a few tracks by Fred Again but I didn’t know his work by name. Frankly I don’t think most of my friends did either. But he’s *very* good at social—his TikTok where he shares clips and funny moments from concerts is really great, and that’s probably a catalyst for a lot of his virality. Also, he just seems like a chill guy and he’s a *really really* good DJ (you should also watch the Boiler Room set on YouTube.)
It’s not the most popular Boiler Room set ever, nor is it probably the most influential, but it’s certainly one of the most talked about sets in quite awhile.
We’ve seen artists come out of nowhere largely leveraging social media before (Lil Nas X with “Old Town Road” is a great example), and this set is a great example. Fred Again has used the set to propel his own singles as a prelude to an album that’s rumored to be dropping soon. I hate when people find interesting things that go on in the world and try to make it applicable to founders and tech, but Fred Again has done a great job creating hype and capitalizing on it. I, like many others, are waiting on bated breath for more of his work (and full versions of some of the tracks he dropped on his set.)
Identifying Burnout Is The Hardest Part
I have some weird working habits—I’ve written about work/life balance and founder mental health in the past, but I’m not like some highly evolved operator that has perfect balance. But I’m trying, which is a large part of the battle. Something I’ve learned is that creating positive changes in your life takes a lot of intentional effort. Work, and life, and other things always get in the way, but they’re just more excuses to procrastinate that change.
I’ve gone to therapy on and off in my life and recently restarted after taking some time off. There’s no particular reason honestly—I just wanted to talk to a professional about all the changes that happened in my life over the last year, both positive (getting married) and negative (losing family members.)
Burnout has been on my mind a lot too. Starting Fintech Today was a grueling process—I prioritized paying employees over paying myself, and bootstrapping for the first 1.5 years put me under even more financial stress. Then, after selling Fintech Today to Workweek, I didn’t really take time off between projects—I immediately jumped into thinking about starting Vol. 1 Ventures.
I started reading a book on burnout and, turns out, I might have been a bit more burnt out than I anticipated. And, according to the book, this is something that’s actually pretty common—most symptoms of burnout really show themselves when things are past the point of no return.
Obviously, the priority should be to make sure you don’t get to that point, but I think a lot of the battle is just identifying when you’re not feeling yourself with your professional life. In hindsight, there were definitely signs that I was getting burned out and should have taken a vacation (and when I did take time off, I used that time to think about the future of Fintech Today instead of turning my brain off from work altogether.)
Based on what I’ve read so far, if you’re feeling irritated at work, have an overwhelming sense of dread and/or failure, have trouble finding the energy to work, or lack a sense of accomplishment with your work, you might be suffering from burnout. I’m not a medical professional so this isn’t professional advice, but if you notice you’re not yourself at work, that’s probably another telltale sign too.
One quick remedy that’s worked for me is to just take more time off. I used to work 6/7 days a week, and was extremely proud about it too. More recently, I started taking most of Saturday and Sunday off. Firstly, if I can’t get all my work done during the week, then something’s wrong—either I haven’t hired right and don’t have the help I need to execute, or I’m taking on too much. Secondly, having that time off gets me super excited and eager to start working on Monday’s. That energy has been palpable for people who work with me.
But, the main takeaway here is to be acutely attuned to how you’re interacting with your work and your mindset about it. If things feel overwhelming, powering through to a certain deadline or launch won’t help; in fact, it might make things worse. If you want to have a long, sustained, career, being in tune with your own feelings about work is critical.