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Beating Burnout, Business Pivoting, Book Marketing and Heading to Vegas… Baby!

cougar baitIt’s been 3-weeks since the last time I wrote a blog post, here on the site.

Warranted, there have been a couple of podcast episodes gone live – but, that process is completely automated – including the writing of the show notes and therefore needs zero input from me.

Just as well, too – as for the last few weeks I have been pretty much no good to anyone, when it comes to pretty much anything.

Reason? I hit burnout for the second time in my life – just like I did in late 2009.

It was life changing for me back then, and I actually believe it’ll be even more life changing for me this time around. I thought it might be useful to explain what happened, the lessons I learned these last few weeks, and how it’ll effect the way I continue to run and grow my businesses in the future.

What Happened?

At the beginning of December I noticed that I was becoming very tired in the middle of the day. It was as if it was bedtime at 3pm – something that obviously is not normally the case. I hadn’t been sleeping well for a couple of weeks, and I figured it was just that fact, catching up on me.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I woke up with the worst migraine headache I’ve had in years and years. I rarely suffer from them, so when they come along, I tend to notice. But, I’ve never woken up with one before. It lasted for 3-days. I could barely get out of bed it was so bad.

Then, a rash appeared on my neck. It didn’t spread or get any worse, but after a couple more days I knew something was wrong and I went to the doctor. He ran some blood tests, everything came back fine, but he started asking me a lot of questions about work, and lifestyle.

At that point, I knew what was coming. I’d been there before.

He told me that my immune system had taken a big dip, hence the problems with sleeping, the migraines and rash – and that I was suffering from acute stress. I had been doing too much. I was burned out. He gave me some medication and ordered me to take some time off work, and recoup.

Why Did it Happen?

Frankly speaking, I simply took on way too much this year.

I know a lot of you might be reading this and thinking to yourself “Hang on, Chris is supposed to have VA’s doing everything for him…!”, and it is true, I do have virtual (and physical) staff that handle a lot of things for me on a day to day basis – but, just like any other hardcore, hustlin’ entrepreneur, even I tend to load my plate too high sometimes.

In 2013 alone, I’ve done the following:

  • January – 2-week US trip, 2 speaking gigs, countless meetings. Launch of new co-working space.
  • February – 2-week Australia trip, 2 speaking gigs, countless meetings. Started writing my book.
  • March – Full on focused on writing my book. 2 client visits. 1 mastermind event.
  • April – 1-week Canada trip, 1 speaking gig, food poisoning!
  • May – 2-week UK trip, 1 speaking gig, 2 mastermind events, countless meetings.
  • June – 1st round of book edits. Company management event. 1 mastermind event.
  • July – 4-week US trip, 3 speaking gigs, 2 mastermind events, countless meetings.
  • August – Start developing ‘Branding Bootcamp’. 1 client visit.
  • September – 2nd round of book edits. 2 client visits. Started preparing for NMX presentation.
  • October – 1-week Thailand trip, 1 speaking gig, 1 mastermind event and several meetings. Earthquake.
  • November – Pre-launch ‘Branding Bootcamp’ and start finalizing. Final book edits and tweaks, beginning of book marketing plan. Typhoon.
  • December – NMX presentation, book marketing plan… and then – burnout!

Just typing that list out (which I’m sure isn’t complete!), I’m pooped all over again!

Not to mention the fact that I own and operate three different businesses (with over 250 employees combined). One of which, Virtual Staff Finder, went through a pretty radical business model pivot when we decided to stop sourcing for specialist VA’s, instead deciding to focus on what 76% of our clients wanted – the General VA role. This change might sound like a simple one, but, believe me it didn’t come without it’s headaches and problems to solve.

I have also been working like crazy with my launch manager on getting everything in place for the beginning of our book marketing plan for Virtual Freedom. You’ll start seeing a lot more about the book, and very regularly around the internet I might add, beginning January.

On top of all this I was blogging, podcasting and generally focused on content marketing and brand building all year, all the time.

All this has paid off… However, with the growing popularity of the blog and podcast, the sheer number of emails, tweets and FB messages that I now receive on a daily basis has ballooned well beyond what I ever thought it would – not that I’m complaining.

I’ve just had problems dealing with it all. There are already a number of processes and systems in place to handle the daily load (with more coming), however, the hustle of 2013 definitely caught up with me!

What suffered?

Everything. As always happens with burnout. Throughout November the amount of time I was spending in ‘down mode’ was virtually zero. I wasn’t hanging out with my family as much, having fun as much, or simply just switching off enough.

My sleep started to deteriorate, so did my yoga practice and general well-being…diet, etc.

Looking back, it was so obvious… but at the time you’re in ‘the moment’ and just working hard to get sh*t done. As was I.

How did I overcome it?

Simple. Rest.

To clear my mind and give my body (and mind) the best chance of recovery (as well as to make the most of my medication!), I checked into a nice hotel for 5-nights and did absolutely nothing except read, watch TV, have fun with my wife, get massages and enjoy plenty of ice cream!

I didn’t work on the Branding Bootcamp (who’s launch has now been postponed until February 1st), I didn’t write, spent zero time on social media and just 15-minutes a day replying to important email – everything else was put on hold. All my conference calls, podcast recordings, meetings and appointments were cancelled. Everything was cleared.

I drank 10-bottles of water a day, I swallowed melotonin supplements at night to get a solid 8-hours (which turned to 10-hours a couple of times!) and my wife would go home, juice plenty of fresh produce and brings bottles and bottles of fresh juice to the hotel every day for me – this raised my energy levels bigtime.

Now That I’m Recovering…

I’m now feeling a lot better – hence this blog post.

I’m still taking it easy, the rash has almost gone, and I’m started to sleep better again – without the supplemental help!

I’m also thinking very long and hard about how I am going to get back into things, with a renewed focus to being the most productive entrepreneur I can be in 2014, but not half-killing myself in the process – especially with the plans I have in place to help promote Virtual Freedom – which does include a certain amount of travel.

The last time I hit burnout in late 2009, I set myself a year-long goal of becoming a Virtual CEO, and broke that goal down into monthly goals, as well as reporting everything on my first blog, Virtual Business Lifestyle. I’m going to do something similar next year. And, I’ve decided to blog about it again.

Along with the release of my book in April, I have just one other ‘major’ goal for 2014 (which I’ll go into more detail on when the time is right) – and that’s the way it’s going to stay. I’m not going to do anything else.

Plus… I’ll be starting a monthly ‘Entrepreneurship Report’ at the end of January, that will highlight everything thats taken place throughout the month, and how I handled everything – all with the focus on productivity and profitability – but, without the migraines and rashes!!!

Creating these reports will keep me publicly accountable in regards to keeping things streamlined, and not making the same mistake I did this year – of simply trying to handle too much, all at once.

I’ll be focusing on less quantity – more quality – in EVERYTHING that I do in 2014.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Come Hang Out at #NMX in Vegas

I’m kicking off the year, once again, with the honor of speaking for the third time at our industry’s premier live event, New Media Expo, which is being held in Las Vegas, between January 4-6th, 2014.

Not only is the event being held in one of the coolest party places in the world, but I especially love NMX because of the fact that so many close friends attend. Once you couple that together with amazing parties, great live sessions and the ability to meet people you’ve never met in person before, but have known from being connected online, it has to be a must-attend event.

And for me, it is. Every year.

nmx 2013

The photo above was taken last year. As you can see it was a great turn-out and I always enjoy the crowd at this particular event.

However, on top of all of that fun stuff, the real reason why I’m so pumped to be going is because this year I have been invited to present one of just a few ‘Super Sessions’, which are kind of like mini keynotes – and I’ve decided to put together a brand new, never before seen or heard 45-min presentation which I’ve entitled ‘The Business of YOU!’.

I’ll be showing attendees exactly how they can utilize the power of content marketing to build an online brand and ultimately become the go-to influencer in their niche – with a focus on turning it all into a business. It’s gonna be great!

I had this video put together to help promo the session. Hope you enjoy it.

If you’re going to be at #NMX, I’d love it if you dropped by my session, of course – and if we’ve not met before, please come up and introduce yourself, I love meeting my online tribe members at live events – it’s what it’s all about.

Happy Holidays

True to my new form, I’m happy to announce…

This will be my last blog post for 2013.

I’m going to be taking the rest of the month off to have fun with my family and to prepare for Vegas.

In light of this, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas, and a spectacular New Year. Lets all work together on keeping each other accountable in 2014, to help make it the best year ever for us all.

What’d ya say…?!

Have you ever hit entrepreneurial burnout before? If so, how did you overcome it? If you haven’t, do you actively do something (or perhaps a collection of somethings) to avoid it from happening?

Lets discuss this important issue in the comments below. Thanks, everyone!

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