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FIP 98: Lessons From Bedriye Hulya Who Was Able to Prevent a Burnout

This week on the Finding Impact Podcast, we are talking about burnout in the social sector, the third in our interview series, and we talk about Bedriye Hulya’s own experience, and how it took a very unique project that aims to promote the inner wellbeing for changemakers to help her get unstuck and make drastic changes in her life. Bedriye is founder of b-fit, which is a chain of women-only sport and health centers in Turkey, and uses a unique franchising model which empowers women.

On this podcast, you will learn:

  • More about her b-fit model.
  • Profit versus social good: how Bedriye maintained the thin line / keeping the balance between focusing on maintaining a profit so you’re sustainable, but also keeping in mind that the social good is more important than the profit.
  • When Bedriye started to feel symptoms of burnout:
    • She felt trapped, started getting angry at people, started to resent the company and her work, and started to feel an injustice of trying to do social good, but not feeling good herself.
  • About her experience with the Wellbeing Project, an intensive 18-month program for creating and supporting a culture of inner wellbeing for changemakers.
    • Bedriye particularly benefited from Gestalt Practice which made her realize she lost touch with herself and her feelings by burying things that she should have lived through.
  • How Bedriye loved founding the company but hated management and felt like she was forcing herself to fit into the role.
  • Her advice to other social entrepreneurs stuck in the hamster wheel: take a sabbatical (if possible), do inner work (ie. Gestalt Practice, going to therapy, etc.) – anything looking into yourself to understand what processes are manifesting in your altered behaviors or thoughts or feelings. Afterwards you will learn your strengths and weaknesses and I recommend that people do their inner work.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Bedriye:

  • E-mail: BedriyeHulya@b-fit.com.tr

FIP 97: The Dangers of Being a Corporate Insurgent with Gib Bulloch

This week on the Finding Impact Podcast, we are talking about burnout, corporate insurgency and a mental hospital. This is the second in the series of podcasts that we are covering on burnout and mental stress in the social sector. We are talking with Gib Bulloch about his personal experience of what he calls the ‘event’ when he suffered from a burnout that put him in a mental hospital for 5 days and became the setting of his new book “The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a Corporate Insurgent”. The book is an engrossing read on Gib’s personal journey of burnout, and how he’s turned it into an opportunity for others, to spark a new breed of social activists working within, or about to join, or completely disillusioned by today’s business world.  Gib Bulloch is also the founder of Accenture Development Partnerships, a non-profit arm of Accenture, for building cross-sector partnerships between businesses and NGOs.

On this podcast, you will learn:

  • How Gib first discovered the true meaning of working for ‘purpose’, when he was volunteering with the VSO International in the Balkans after the Kosovo crisis. VSO partners with businesses to attracts mid-level corporate professionals and offers them volunteering opportunities.
  • How this experience led to Gib conceiving and founding the Accenture Development Partners (ADP) in 2001, as a social enterprise within Accenture. ADP was conceived on the idea of bringing business and technology expertise to parts of the world where it is greatly needed but has least access to it, and its business model depended on the three-way contribution between people, ADP and the charitable organization clients.
  • The ‘event’, which became the inspiration of his new book and he quotes – “Looking back, the retreat in India couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’d signed up for an event organised by a group called Leaders’ Quest that would see me spend four days in the Rajasthan desert. The retreat offered a mix of activities – discussions in small focus groups about the state of the world, visits to impoverished villages, talks by inspiring NGO leaders – even yoga and meditation classes. I’d gone to get myself out of the rut, out of the comfort zone – to find new inspiration to break the internal impasse I’d been facing. I got more than I bargained for.”
  • Why social entrepreneurs are more prone to stress and isolation when compared with business entrepreneurs. The jobs of people working towards a social mission are never ever done fully and it’s very difficult to dis-engage like in a regular day-job. This leads to an incredibly high burnout rate in the sector. The Wellbeing Project (an initiative of Ashoka, Skoll and Schwab) recognizes this endemic problem in social entrepreneurship and works towards catalysing a culture of inner wellbeing for social entrepreneurs and changemakers
  • How there is a fundamental challenge at the heart of business today – as the capitalist economic system with its single-minded focus on profit is creating tremendous amounts of corporate workforce dis-engagement and high levels of burnouts. Traditional corporate responses (yoga rooms, gym memberships, etc.) are mere tinkerings, whereas what is needed is a fundamental re-thinking and re-imagination of workforce burnouts.
  • How organizations such as Thrive Global, established by Arianna Huffington, are working toward raising awareness of the hidden costs of workforce burnouts to business and economy
  • The need to imagine another paradigm around people’s relationship with money as most people are trapped in the hamster wheel where they feel the compelling need to have more and more money. Gib talks Peter Kuneig’s ‘moneywork’ and his book that exposes misleading flaws and lies in many universally accepted and unquestioned assumptions about money
  • Finally, Gib shares that he saw in his manic vulnerability a source of strength which led him to write and try and break the taboo around mental health in business.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Gib:

FIP 96: How to manage the isolation and mental stress as a social enterprise founder with Ilaina Rabbat

Today, we speak with Ilaina Rabbat (co-founder of Amani Institute) on burnout in social entrepreneurs–why it happens, what can be done to protect yourself from it, signs it’s happening, safety measure to put in place–which is so critically important when you’re doing this sort of work. She recently published a thesis on how to thrive in the social sector.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • Ilaina focuses on thriving rather than surviving/burnout, although burnout is not usually a word used by social entrepreneurs since it’s almost seen as a bad word; saying that you’re burnt out wasn’t part of the dialogue originally.
  • She gives an example of experiencing burnout herself, opening up an Ashoka office in El Salvador, a new country for her with no support network.
  • Inside Armani institute, a main topic included in their curriculum, “inner journey of a changemaker,” is to help intrapreneurs understand who they are, what they want, and how to sustain themselves since normal university curriculum never talks about this, and it was their most popular curriculum topic.
  • Sacrifice, and touching upon Daniela Papi-Thornton’s thesis on tackling heropreneurship.
  • Signs that Ilaina felt when she first started to get burnout:
    • When you feel like you don’t want to keep doing what you’re doing (e.g. intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation),
    • Your body (ie. headaches, back pain, fatigue, etc.), and concerns from loved ones.
  • Binary trap that entrepreneurs get into a lot, like should I run my social venture or should I spend time with my family, e.g. A or B rather than A and B. It’s a mental trap that entrepreneurs get into a lot.
  • Social entrepreneurs cannot do everything so they should narrow down their responsibility and their impact to make it limited, tangible, and achievable; otherwise you will burn out.
  • Ilaina discusses five out of ten variables (or common themes) across groups of social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs:
    • Sacrifice (want to versus have to),
    • Work centrality (ability to not think in a binary way),
    • Responsibility (everyone thinks they are responsible to make this world a better place),
    • Privilege (either in a grateful way or guilty way), and
    • Empathy (remaining centered and avoiding compassion fatigue).
  • Actionable things to do in order to move from surviving to thriving:
    • Self awareness (feel more connected to yourself) and meditation helps with this, and in slowing down burnout.
    • Relationships (spending time with people that love you; but quality over quantity).
    • Intrinsic motivation (remember why you’re doing what you do).
  • Who is high risk to burnout? Social entrepreneurs in the middle of their career. When you first start, you still have a lot of passion and energy. The same for those who have been working for 15 to 20 years because of the wisdom they have gained. But the people in between, like the first 5 to 10 years in a social venture, the passion and excitement is starting to go out, and the wisdom gained later isn’t there yet.

Links to Resources:

10 variables chart

Connect with Ilaina:

David Goldberg Finding Impact

FIP 34: Avoiding Burnout, Maximum Employee Output and Hiring with a Dog, with David Goldberg

Founders Pledge asks tech entrepreneurs to make a commitment early on in their journey, that when they come into some liquidity, be that an exit or payout, they will give a portion of that to their favourite charity. This is an honest conversation and David opens up to some of his own confrontation with burnout and how he is creating a culture to protect from that happening to his staff. Listen on, and please use Twitter to add your voice to let David and others hear your views. Use the hashtag #findingimpact.

On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How David aims to build a start-up charity that looks and behaves like a hot, new tech startup, so continuously optimising for efficiency, fun place to work, build the right culture, work really hard, but build in the right incentives to make this happen.
  • He believes charity stops short of this vision for one significant reason: startup workers can work at an unsustainable rate because they may get rewarded at the end of the sprint via a big payout. And it’s a finite period. At charities this doesn’t happen. In fact, the light at the end of tunnel keeps getting further away. The problems in the world are so big. And the light at the end of the tunnel is so intangible, the equation of big effort for big reward doesn’t add up. In fact it normally equals burnout.
  • Against this backdrop, how do you compete for talented individuals who might otherwise go to a tech startup, and then motivate, incentivise and retain them in a structure that doesn’t reward with outsized financial incentives and the intangibility of lives improved are distant and un-relatable.
  • David believes the solution could be in technology, and pairing with the tech startup founders themselves – who have that disruptive, “I’m-not-going-take-no-for-an-answer” mentality – with the effective altruist thinking – of rigour and rationality.
  • David believes that a culture rooted in care and support for your fellow workers is a promising way to counteract this dichotomy.
  • To act on a commitment of care and support for employees, can mean company away-days, flexible working hours, working from home, generous vacation, and above average pay bands.
  • If social sector organisations who don’t have a tangible light at the end of the tunnel but push their employees hard, they need to create a really supportive culture that builds and maintains strong mental health in their workforce.
  • David’s thesis for hiring covers (1) brute intellect; (2) value alignment; and (3) experience.
  • Brute intellect before experience because what they do is different and they don’t want people to bring baggage of charity inefficiency. And if you’re smart you can learn anything.
  • To test for intellect in an interview David brings his dog along. This gives insight into how people react to an unpredictable member of the interview panel, and allows the interviewer to somehow see them for who they are.
  • To date, they’ve rarely advertised for new employees. They’ll speak to people within their community, which get posted to the communities, and groups online, and informal job boards.
  • For their hiring process, firstly there’s a phonecall with their Chief of Staff, then a phonecall with a person within the department they’ll be working in, then a face-to-face with their COO, then finally, with the CEO (and the dog). Then finally (again) they hangout with the entire team for the afternoon, then they decide.

Resources

Connect with David:

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