Dealing with burnout is becoming an increasingly popular topic one year into the global pandemic. More than half of marketers say they felt the effects of burnout in the past year, according to one survey. And many of the prospects marketers are trying to reach are also dealing with burnout, making them less receptive to marketing messages.
In this episode of B2B Nation, we talk to Rob Bogue, co-author of Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery, about what burnout is and about strategies to help those dealing with burnout.
Regular B2B Nation listeners might remember Rob from the episode we did on How Understanding Change Management Makes You a Better Marketer. Rob is a technologist at heart, and his passion is putting technology to use to help people. Extinguish Burnout is not only a book that Rob co-wrote with his wife Terri, but it’s also an online course. In response to the increase in burnout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rob and Terri are making all of the Extinguish Burnout resources available for free on the website.
Rob Bogue: We’ve lost our anchoring and so our perception of our efficacies keeps changing. If you are a machinist, you output a part, you know whether that part is good or not. Somebody in quality is going to check it. They’re going to put the calipers on it and it’s good or bad. When you produce a podcast, when I write a program or I build a course, how do you measure that?
So I think [burnout] has been with us. I think it’s worse because we don’t have those specific fixed endpoints that we can judge against. And as a result we hold ourselves to too high of expectations.
Mike Pastore: Do certain job roles have a higher likelihood of experiencing burnout? I could see that if you’re an executive, you have more responsibility, it’s more stress, potentially more likelihood of feeling burned out. But does somebody, say, in a creative role — Are they more or less likely to feel burned out than, say, a data analyst? Is there any sort of connection between what you do and the likelihood that you’ll be burned out?
Rob Bogue: There is, but it’s not [a direct relationship]. First of all… when Terri and I would have these talks, and we’re at a conference, and this is obviously pre-COVID, we walk into the room and I would go “OK, how many of you have ever felt burnout?” And almost universally, 95% of the hands to 100% of the hands were coming up.
Everybody has felt burnout. It’s this universal thing. We’ve all felt like we’ve been ineffective. There’s too much friction. Maybe there’s all these other things. So I think it’s fairly universal. What I would say about the role and how that impacts it is… Back in 2001, Richard Florida wrote a book The Rise of the Creative Class, and he started talking about the fact that we’re doing things more heuristically. We’re not machinists carving out parts. We’re artists who are producing podcasts and who are creating marketing pieces. And we’re doing all of this stuff in a way that isn’t repeatable.
And again, because it’s not repeatable, because there’s no understanding of what success looks like and what your probability of success should be, we have these expectations that we should never fail. Well, no. If you’re doing something for the first time… Like, the first time you got on a bike, right? Or you put one of your kids on a bike to ride — their two-wheel bike without training wheels, right? — did they succeed every time, first time? No! But that’s what we expect out of ourselves.