What I Learned About Podcasting at Guitar Center

I have watched countless hours of YouTube videos trying to understand how to set up, record and launch a podcast. Most of the time i thought they were speaking another language and i was the dumb one who didn’t get it. Plug this, click that, twirl around three times and voila you have a podcast!

I had way too much information and no plan to implement.

I asked a friend who runs his own podcast for suggestions. (Thank you, Mark Phillips of Better PR Now for the help!) His podcast is interview style with a guest in another location. He uses:

  • A Skype recording software (I use a free version I found online)
  • Audio-Technica ATR 2100 microphone
  • Garage Band to edit (free on Macs. I have a PC and use my video edit software - Wondershare Filmora that cost $65 for the license)

I then decided to take my new found knowledge and put the guys at Guitar Center to the test. These guys know their stuff! We asked them about a fancy schmancy set up for speaking and instrumental recording with the set up.

I’d like to think they were impressed with my knowledge of dual outputs to USB and XLR, but beyond that i was having an internal “huh????” moment. These guys were rad and recommended the ideal microphones for the intended set up and swayed us away from the top of line models.

Did you know that Guitar Center also re-sells equipment and offers a 45 day return policy with no questions asked? I didn’t. It’s like having an insurance policy for a Craigslist deal!

These are my buds at Guitar Center. Yes, it took a village to answer my questions!

These are my buds at Guitar Center. Yes, it took a village to answer my questions!

For a higher end recording for musical performances, they recommended the following set up:

2017-11-18 14.08.13.jpg

If you can't read their handwriting, here is a breakdown:

Interface (where the mics and instruments get plugged into) Specifications:

  • 480-192 Khz sample rate
  • At least 4 mic pres, 2 line inputs
  • 16-24 bit rate

They recommended the Scarlett 18i8 that will run about $349


  • Blue Spark - $200
  • AKG P220 - $150
  • Rode NT1 -$200


  • Sennheiser HD280 - $99

With cables and everything, it’s about $900 for this grouping, but they said to keep an eye out for Black Friday specials and they price match for a 10 days!


I ended up buying two of the Audio-Technica ATR 2100 microphones from Amazon for my set up which will be a direct plug in to my computer. It cost me a little over $130 for the two.

I'll be back to visit my buddies if I need any help!

Your Body Knows Best: Why Are You Ignoring It?


Yesterday I met with a client who needed to reschedule the week before. Why? Because she was in urgent care dealing with multiple infections. “I’m going to have some serious lessons learned after this” she said in a text.

The antibiotics started to work her magic as we scheduled our next session. Yesterday we sat down to refocus on her goals, but I wanted to get a sense of what led up to her being in such a dire situation.

"So tell me about the days leading up to going to Urgent Care.”

“Well I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks, but my schedule was too busy and I couldn’t make time to make an appointment to go to the doctors. I brushed it off and hoped it would go away, but it kept getting worse. I made a doctor’s appointment and the next available appointment was five days away.”

“What did you tell them your symptoms were?”

“I wasn’t very honest with them and definitely undersold what was actually going on. I didn’t want to freak anyone out and thought I could push through.”

But pushing through was the last thing her body did. The next day she had to run out of a web meeting to go to the Urgent Care for what turned out to be three infections, one of which was in her kidneys.


I asked her “When did your body start whispering it needed attention?”

“Oh months and weeks ago.”

“When did it start talking?”

“Last weekend.”

“And when did it scream?”

“Two days before I went in.”


My client isn’t alone. I’m guilty of brushing aside alignments that I hoped would go away. I’ve ignored things that just weren’t quite right that in hindsight couldn’t been dealt with very easily. Our body knows what we need and when we ignore it, it doesn’t go away, it gets louder until we listen.


It turns out, she needed rest and time to herself. She knew she needed it, but didn’t want to admit it.

“What more evidence do you need to know this is what you need?” I inquired.

“I don’t want to know what’s worse than this. I know I need it.”

“So when will you start listening to your body?”

“When it whispers.”


I’ll be checking in on her to make sure she’s been sticking to her self-care routine.

For everyone out there going a mile a minute, take a pause and check in with your body. Those around you want you well taken care of before you take care of their needs. Take a nap or make a cup of tea. Your only job today is to take care of you.

Utilize Your Under-Used Promotional Real Estate: Your Email Signature

Do you sign your email with your name? How about your contact details? What about your social media links? A Video?

If you said no to any of these questions, this blog is for you!


No, this isn’t an original idea, but it is an under-utilized tactic to get your name and offerings out there. Think about how many emails you’ve sent in the last year and how many impressions you made with those emails. What if you could continue the engagement beyond the words in the body of your email?

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on and don’t necessarily have the time to draft newsletters or ads all day. In this case, the email signature is your new best friend.

In your signature, you can include:

A picture of yourself (so they know who they’re meeting)

Your contact details (this should be happening any way, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t include phone numbers)

Your website (or 2 or 10 depending on how much you have going on) be sure to label what the site is (i.e. podcast, blog, product)

Social Media accounts (use the logo graphics as much as possible)

Scheduling links (want someone to make an appointment with you, you can include your online scheduler)

A Recent Video (try to keep this fresh every 1-2 months to increase interest from repeat viewers)


How do you put it all together?

You can use the signature setting in your email to do simple text, hyperlinks and images, but for formatting and sleek looks, there are signature providers out there for a fee. I used WiseStamp.com to build mine and have had tons of compliments from it.


It takes a little time, but the upswing of engagement is worth it!

There's an "I" and "Me" in "TIME" for a Reason: Time Management Strategies with a Client

How are you managing your time? Are you waiting for breaks in the day to appear to tackle your projects? Do you constantly feel interrupted or in a start-stop pattern of work flow?

For most people, this is probably a daily occurrence. All it takes is one email or phone call to bump you out of your zone.

This was also an issue of one of my clients looking to maximize his productivity and efficiency. He found that during his day, he would start a project that needed two hours and would get interrupted half way through with an emergency. After putting out the fire, he would return to the project, but without the same energy and focus leaving him feeling frustrated.

“What should I do?” he asked me.

We looked at his overall schedule on a normal weekly basis and focused on the average time spent over a week in percentages in different categories:

Company Meetings -  20%

Employee One-On-One Meetings – 20%

Technical Troubleshooting – 20%

Project Time- 40%


Once we had the percentage, we were able to see that on a daily basis he only had about 2.5 hours a day to work on projects. He was stunned to see how much of his day was redirected to non-project work, but understood based on his management responsibilities.

Then we looked at average flow of his day as most meetings were pre-scheduled and reoccurring at the same time. After sketching it out, we found a potential solution. Between 10am and 1pm, he typically felt a slowdown from outside demands.

“What if you could schedule your project time the same way your meetings get scheduled?”

“But what if someone needs me?” he asked.

“What would happen if one of your team members was super focused on a project and you needed them for something?”

“Well they would wait until they had a natural break to call me back.” he responded. “So, I can do what everyone else on my team does?”

“Why couldn’t you?”


It was like a switch had been flicked. He could set up his schedule to get his team members and his own needs met.

I have a meeting with him later today to see how his two weeks on his new schedule went and I’ll let you know how it went.

What can you take away from this?

1) Look at your time as a whole over a longer period of time to determine your average time spent

2) Highlight the priority activity that isn't being served

3) Map out an average day and identify the natural dips of time or where you could build a gap.

4) Plug it into your calendar and keep the standing meeting with yourself and that activity

5) Shift your mindset - by serving yourself, you are better able to show up for your team



Yesterday we had a session and the new scheduling tool was a big hit! Once he knew how much time it took to get tasks done, his anxiety decreased dramatically and his feeling of power as a leader soared.

He admitted it was tedious to think about tasks by the minute, but overall it helped him project manage his day. He also found, by blocking his time out, he could delay a non-critical response until he had a natural break in the process.

When we first addressed the issue of time management, I asked him on a scale of 1-10 (1-low, 10-high) how he thought he was doing. Three weeks ago, he said 3. Yesterday he said 7!


After our discussion, four steps emerged from this process:

Step 1: Get the specifics. If you don’t know the specifics, the task is too obscure or large. Chisel it down to steps you can accomplish and know how much time it will take.

Step 2: Plug it into a bigger picture calendar. Use an app or online calendar to do so and make sure you check your calendar before agreeing to a new project or task.

Step 3: Stick to the plan. There’s no point in spending all of that time planning, if you’re not going to get any use out of it. Following your calendar as if the project blocks are scheduled meetings with another colleague.

Step 4: Communicate your wins and boundaries to colleagues. When everyone gets on the same page and is consistent with respecting time, it can open a door of trust and collaboration while decreasing stress and anxiety.





Business 101: Don’t Depend On Your Friends

I remember a conversation with a business owner who was convinced she needed to add a virtual component to her business “My friends said they would totally pay for it.”

Immediately my red flags were going off. “Have you asked anyone who isn’t a friend what their interested would be.”

“Well no.”

Our friends want the best from us. They want us to succeed and when it works from them, they’ll support us with their wallets. We rely on them as a shoulder to cry on and an open hand for a high five when we’re celebrating. The problem is they know too much about how the sausages are made and may have a bit of a bias going on.

“Yes, that’s a great idea. Do that!” they say. But when it comes time to launching and earning revenue, it’s a fraction of the fanfare. They weren’t lying to you and they’re not bad people. They want to encourage you, but your friends along are not enough to sustain a business.

Friends ARE great for:

1)      Promoting your business

2)      Referring people to your business

3)      Manual labor

4)      Extra set of eyes

5)      Hugs

6)      High Fives

7)      Drinking pick-me-ups

Friends are safe and if you’ve only been relying on them for feedback, you’re limiting your marketing reach. Take the risk and expand see what happens. If nothing bites, keep trying or shift your focus. Ask acquaintance level friends for their feedback if they are in your target audience.

The friends closest to you are there for your emotional support, but don’t expect them to be your financial support. It only makes things weird in the long run.

After I created and ran The Spring Cleaning Summit last year, I was ecstatic for the clients and friends that showed up. I also was disappointed at the friends I thought I could count on to support the event. As I go forward, expectations will need to take a backseat to gratitude mixed with the risk of the unknown.

If you're unsure about who you should reach out to, take a step back and think about the problem your service or product is solving. Who is most likely to have that problem? Where do they hang out?

Flexing Your Resilience Muscle


This past weekend I was chatting with two amazing women. Both were children of alcoholism and now in their 20s and 30s had very different perspectives of their childhood. The 30-something woman seemed to take it in stride, understanding that while her upbringing wasn’t ideal, she became extremely self-reliant and a care taker for those around her. The 22-year old woman is married with a young child and was visibly angry and enraged as she told us about her father’s decision to choose alcohol over her family.

We listened to her intently as she brought us to current date and shared the joy of being a new mom and buying a new house.

“You must have a strong resilience muscle.” I told her.

She looked at me puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Your parents divorced when you were 12 right? That means you have 10+ years of building your resilience muscle. If you work out and lift weights, your muscles get little tears and regenerate making them stronger. The same is true for your resilience muscle. Every time you encounter stress and manage it, your resilience muscle gets even stronger. Imagine that you didn’t have the same upbringing, what would you be missing?”

“I wouldn’t be as independent or strong. I wouldn’t be as good of a mom.  I don’t know if I would know how to deal with stress.”

“Exactly. For every experience that knocks you down and you get back up, you can recall on that experience to pull you through. You can look back and objectively say it’s not that bad.”

We could easily blame our experiences from when we were younger. We can easily point outward. But what if we could appreciate what those experiences built within us? What if we could use the situations that knocked us down as a tool to build us and others up?

What are you currently held back by? How has that person or experience helped you become you? How could you be thankful for that experience?

So flex that resilience muscle and see how strong you really are!

6 Ways to Deal with Difficult Personalities



We all have at least one person in our lives that strikes a nerve. No matter what they do, we recoil or think the worst about their intentions. We’ve already made up their story line about how they’re trying to make our lives a living hell.

As a coach, I’m supposed to operate without judgment, but I’m human and it’s a daily practice to not revert into past middle school antics. Now that I’ve lowered your expectations, I’ll tell you what’s worked with me to navigate a world filled with people who don’t flow on the same current as me.

1)      Chill the F@$% Out – I have a piece of artwork near my door that highlights this point. Nothing is that serious, yet I can have the tendency of shifting urgency to unimportant situations.

2)      It’s Not About Me – If someone’s having a bad day and vents or has a nasty look on their face, 9/10 it has nothing to do with me. For that 10% if it has something to do with me, unless that person wants to address it, I keep it moving.

3)      Acknowledge that Everyone Has Their Own Crap – We all have our own baggage that we’re coping with. Whether it’s trust issues, insecurities or fear, we’re doing the best we can to make it through unscathed. It’s not a pissing match to see who has it worse off or who has it easier.

4)      Open Up – Once we get through acknowledging our crap, we can drop our guard and stop being an untouchable hard ass. Funny thing is, when we start sharing our most vulnerable experiences, most people will exhale and share with you.

5)      Offer Support – If someone has a difficult personality, they’re usually protecting themselves from a past hurt and push people away before someone hurts them. If you see them challenged by something, offer a hand or ask how you can support them. Even if they decline, the intensive of the trigger will lessen from them.

6)      Change Your Route – If you don’t have to be around the person, but find yourself running into them and getting triggered, shift your route and routine. It may seem like an inconvenience, but I would argue that being fired up and annoyed will take more out of you.

My guess is no one wants to be viewed as difficult, but unfortunately, we don’t know how to get out of our own way. A little compassion and empathy goes a long way, but if the person impacts you on a toxic level, you have every right to stay away and avoid the situation. You are only in control of you and can only change your thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and actions.

Amazon Affiliate Program: Are You Leaving Money on The Table?


A couple of months ago I heard about the Amazon Affiliate Program. I’m familiar with similar programs from back when I ran a CrossFit Gym and received monthly checks from protein powder sales (man, those days are gone). Essentially for every person who clicks a link through and purchases from the site, you receive a commission from a percentage of the sales. Also known as passive income from affiliate site referral.

If you’re wanting passive income, I wouldn’t expect to get rich from it. It takes effort in messaging, promotion and positioning to call people to purchase from your site. If they go direct, guess what, you don’t make the commission.

Back to Amazon. I was super interested as it seems like everyone has Prime and shops on the site pretty often from electronics to paper towels. So there was already an interest and comfort with the site.

I clicked on the “Become an Affiliate” link at the bottom of www.amazon.com and hit the “Join” button. The process was relatively easy. The ask about your website traffic and industry. The one catch is you must have a purchase from your link within 180 days to be an approved affiliate partner and purchases made by your account do not count.

On my site I’m referring inspirational books and equipment for DIY podcasting, video, and photography since that’s what most of my clients ask about.

There are awesome ways to shorten the code to include in emails without making it look like spam and you can just include an image without all of the Amazon branding and “Buy Me Now” feelings.

To date I have made a whopping… wait for it…. $13! And yes I’m super excited about it.


Feel free to check it out and let me know if you have any questions on how to best implement it.

Buzzwords, Phrases and Other Red Flags to Watch Out for in a Future Employer

This week I participate in Surge from Association Success. It was a virtual summit of association industry professionals who came together to address emerging issues. I was honored to sit on a panel with two of my peers and friends as we discussed the topic of creating change without holding a title of power.

As the sessions were pre-recorded, speakers were able to actively engage listeners in a chat feature. It was a lively conversation and one attendee asked me to address this topic in a blog:

“What are the questions we should ask, buzzwords we should look for to see if an employer is a good fit?”

Before we get started in that list, it starts with the jobseeker. Before you apply, have a call with HR or sit down for an in-person interview, you need to get honest with yourself. Chances are you’ve had a lot of baggage from past situations that you may be carrying around with you.

This is your opportunity to repack your bag to your next destination.


Step 1: Make a List of Everything You Hated in Your Last Position

Step 2: Next to Each Item, Write the Positive or Opposite Form without Using the Words “No” “Not” or “Never”

Step 3: What Residual Emotional Baggage Are You Holding on to from Your Last Position? What Do You Need to Release It?


Another suggestion would be to do a Value Exercise to indicate which values are in alignment or out of alignment with your last positions. (Contact Me If You’re Interested)


Now to the Buzzwords…

Keep in mind that words alone will not give you the full picture, so it’s imperative that you do more homework and investigating.

Here are some words I see overused in job descriptions that usually indicate fluff:

1)      Open

2)      Collaborative

3)      Collegiate

4)      Dynamic

5)      Flexible

As in ABC Association fosters an open, collaborative, collegiate and dynamic organization and has flexible programs for its employees. Without specifics, these are bold claims. If your point of contact avoids or generalizes their response, this is a solid indicator that things may not be what they appear.


Your next step is to check www.Glassdoor.com. If you’ve never heard of it, Glassdoor is a website and app that hosts millions of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more. Unlike other jobs sites, all of this information is entirely shared by those who know a company best — the employees.

Imagine Yelp for Employees. Keep in mind that along with employee reviews, a lot of organizations have put HR in charge of adding positive reviews to counter the not-so-nice reviews.

If you see a common theme appear within the last two months, ask about it. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.


There are plenty of jobs out there and once you realize what you want and deserve, you will accept an offer in an organization that is in line with your talents, experience and values.



9 Ways Make Money Now


1)      Stop Scrolling on Facebook – Unless you’re messaging people about your business, you’re in time out until you start making money

2)      Name 5 People You’ve Been Meaning To Reach Out To – Pick up the phone, call or email them about a win/win opportunity. If it’s a former client, ask them where they are in the progress and where they need assistance and support. If it’s not for you, refer to another likeminded business. The referral wave is best when initiated.

3)      Follow Up – If you haven’t heard from someone in over a week, follow up with a call or an email.

4)      Create an Interesting Package – You now have a reason to get in touch with someone for your new and exclusive offer. If they aren’t interested, ask what it would take to be appealing or who it might be a good fit for.

5)      Affiliate – I just wrote a post about Amazon Affiliate programs. Reach out to other businesses and see if they have a referral or affiliate program you can promote on your site and to your list.

6)      Get Over Yourself – If you need to make money, your ego needs to take a back seat. Even if you need to walk dogs, run errands or wait tables as you build your business, when you can take care of your basic needs, your grip will open up and so will your opportunities.

7)      Think About Your Ideal Customer – What problem do they need a solution for and what would they be willing to pay for? Is it a Webinar, an e-book, an in-person event or session with you? Build the solution and promote it out.

8)      Ask for Help – Reach out to your network and see if they know of any opportunities. Assuming your ego is on vacation, you won’t say no to something that you perceive as “beneath you.” Get out there and get moving and generate that abundance!

9)      Shift Your Mindset – Envision yourself in an abundant mindset. How are things different? How do you feel? Now bottle feeling up and take a swig of it anytime your inner critic starts chiming in.

How Has Your Self-Perception Changed Over the Years?

Answer these questions as soon as they pop into your head with one word or phrase. For any age bracket you are currently in or have yet to enter, change “was” to “am.”


When I was a baby, I was_______________________________.

When I was a toddler, I was _____________________________.

When I was a child, I was _______________________________.

When I was a pre-teen, I was____________________________.

When I was a teenager, I was ____________________________.

When I was in my early 20s, I was ________________________.

When I was in my late 20s, I was __________________________.

When I was in my 30s, I was _____________________________.

When I was in my 40s, I was _____________________________.

When I was in my 50s, I was _____________________________.

In my 60s and beyond, I am _____________________________.

On my last day on this planet, my legacy is:


Feel free to share you entries with me by email lauren@laurenlemunyan.com and I’ll send you mine.

Oh Shit! Overload



In the last two months, I have taken on a lot. I convinced myself that staying busy was the best solution for beating my lethargic tendencies and feeling lazy around my business. Right after Labor Day, I started the 30-Day Blog Challenge and was immediately boosted by the creative charge it sparked inside. I was writing multiple blogs a day, creating artwork, and brimming over with ideas.

The first two weeks felt like a breeze, even with a 4-day intensive certification program for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator program. I felt powerful and unstoppable. I started dabbling with video again and reorganized my website to reflect my new found confidence in working with creative business owners.

Clients signed up and I got even busier. This is awesome. Busy=Profit=Happiness.

So after the 30-Day Blog Challenge was ending, I decided to extend it to 100 days. More is better, right?

I decided to design and produce custom positivity-inspired journals: Awesome Shit List Journals.

I met with a friend to talk about outreach and we decided to create a pilot event for Emerging C-Suite Leaders. No problem, I thought, I’ve got time. We scheduled the event for November 8th.

Around day 50 of the Blog Challenge, I met with a friend about doing a podcast and added another tough deadline on myself: Have 10 episodes ready to launch by November 20th.

I started shooting more video and agreed to host a show for association professionals on YouTube for launch in November.

I have interviewed four guests, learned the ins and outs of podcasting, edited and produced my own shows, created the artwork and have six interviews scheduled.

I’ve been doing all of these projects while working with my clients.

See where I’m going?

More=Even More =Oh Shit! Overload

Today I’m on day #64 of the Blog Challenge and I could quit. I could say no to everything, but I don’t think that I’ll learn my lesson.

I’m doing what most business owners and emerging leaders do. They take on more in hopes that it will progress their business and their career. They spread themselves to thin until stress, illness or an internal wake-up call smacks them in the face.

I’ve been ignoring my oncoming burnout for weeks. My boyfriend warned me about it, knowing my past patterns and habits. I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want him to be right and for me to have to change gears.

I’ve been doing everything I coach around not doing.  Wake up call.

So what am I doing differently now that I know what not to do?

Building a plan. By understanding my goals and objectives, I can better construct my day and week to work on projects in their appropriate time.

Sticking to the plan. No more squirrel diversions.

Asking for help. I’m here to admit that I suck at technology and refuse to ask for help. I keep trying to MacGyver my way through recording and lighting. The ironic piece is I have at least three friends who have offered to help who are in TV and Radio and do this for a living. Yes, it’s dumb. So if you’re out there listening friends, help please!

Moving after each project. Rather than going go back-to-back with sessions, my goal is to go for a short walk in between. I’ve had days where I don’t get up unless Rico barks at me to go out.

No new projects unless they’re a part of my goals. I’ve been agreeing to do a lot of free or low profit projects. One could argue it’s part of the process in building a brand, but let’s be real, I have bills to pay.

Mandatory rest days. No more waiting until my energy is zapped. One day a week is dedicated to rest, reflection and fun.


When I show up as my best self, my clients are better served and so is my bank account.


Where are you feeling overloaded? What can you put into practice to find more structure and support?


Is the Should Monster Sitting on Your Shoulder?


With the Holiday Season right around the corner, you may be feeling pulled in a number of directions. You’ve got your job, your family, your friends and your extended family, not to mention the events and shopping and eating. Thinking about it is enough to make you dizzy and stressed.

If you’re like a lot of my clients before they came on board, you may be dealing with a Should Monster on your shoulder. A friend of mine said his resembled the Cookie Monster, but instead of chomping on cookies, he was eating up his time. 

The Should Monster is an elusive creature. It plays the role of time keeper and task master, but under the surface it does everything to stop you from doing what you need to do. Say you decided to sit down and work on an important project. You fire up your computer and are ready to go and then The Should Monster Appears.

“Shouldn’t you be checking Facebook or doing laundry? You know you should really call your mother. Shouldn’t you pay that bill. Shouldn’t you check your email. Shouldn’t you go to your friend’s event.”

Before you know it, your energy is sucked up and so is your time – it’s 30 minutes later.

You may get frustrated and discouraged and give into The Should Monster’s requests. Ultimately that project that was so important to you is now a distant memory. You bank this experience into the “I can never get things done” or “I’m a procrastinator” or “I’m lazy” message bank for you to judge and blame yourself next time.


So what do you do with a Should Monster on your shoulder?

1)      Start with Your Values – What’s important to you and why? This is the first step in my coaching process. By understanding the core values, we have a foundation to make decision based on what’s important to us.

2)      Write Down Your Priorities – Next to each item write down the value it associates to. By giving the task an assigned value, it increases the worth and priority of getting it done.

3)      Acknowledge the Should Monster – “Hey buddy I know you want to distract me because I’m doing some big stuff and that scares you. How about I write down what you want me to do and get back to you?”

4)      Say No. Saying “No” to some things means saying “Yes” to you and your values. If something isn’t in alignment, it’s more than okay to let it go.


I’d love to hear about your Should Monster experiences and how you interact with it over the Holidays. Feel free to post about it in the comments below or send me an email about it. If you’d like to dig into your Foundation Values, feel free to book an intensive session.

Have questions, feel free to book a complimentary consultation.


Should I Stay or Should I Go: The 4-Phase Model to Address Toxic Situations

Should I Stay or Should I Go_.jpg

I was an association executive. I started right out of college and within six months I became an executive director. I was in over my head, but worked 10-14 hour days to cover my lack of knowledge. I didn’t sleep and when I did it was from exhaustion after a complete emotional breakdown. I drank 5-6 nights a week. My digestive system was a mess.

“I just need to get through this dues renewal cycle.” “In a couple of months, the event will be over and then I’ll get sleep.”

This was my life for eleven years and became my normal. I thought this was how life was supposed to be – work hard, play hard, sleep when you have to. I tacked on a marriage, a house and a fitness business and my days started at 5am and ended at 11pm.

“The business just needs to be profitable.” “It’ll be better when I get promoted.”

The business became profitable and I was on track to be promoted, but it didn’t get better. I was done and in a way I knew I couldn’t come back from. I asked for help and hired a coach. Within the year I was divorced, my house was sold, my business was transferred, I moved back to Washington, DC and I walked away from my career.

You may be thinking I’m crazy or brave or a little bit of both. But what if I told you, I woke up and saw the truth behind burnout. Here are the lessons learned and a snapshot of the phases I experienced.

Situation – I no longer found my work to be rewarding. Each event was faced with the same challenges and expectations – revenue, attendance, expectations, room pick up. What I loved was creating new projects and events, creating efficiencies and motivating others. My environment did not foster those opportunities. My values and goals were in daily conflict of my situation both personally and professionally. I knew I had to make a change.

Once I realized my situation I moved onto the first phase of the The Clash Stay/Go Model (Should I Stay or Should I Go).

Phase I: Stay Hope and Cope


In this phase you rationalize the situation. You may think you can suck it up. What’s one more event? You make a good living. This isn’t so bad. You’ve been here for this long, what’s another year?

You can make it work on a temporary basis, but those feelings come creeping back in and then you move into Phase II.

Phase II: I Got a New Attitude


In this phase, you acknowledge your role in the problem. You haven’t been the easiest person to work with, so you move the blame and responsibility into your corner. You ask for help. Sometimes you get it and things are great, but when you don’t get what you need, Phase III comes steaming at you head on.

Phase III: Get the Hell Out of Dodge


You don’t care what anyone says, you have to leave. You may take off for a month or you may quit on the spot. Your baggage goes with you and the bridges are ablaze around you. In this phase, you get immediate relief, but you may end up in a worse situation or without a job. Why? Because you’re still you as a victim of the situation. They did this to you and you had no other choice. You may regret how you did it, but not that you did it, which leads us to Phase IV.

Phase IV: Reflect, Reconcile, Reach Out, and Rebuild


Yes, this is a lot in one phase, but it’s meant to make you think about your decision and its impact on every aspect of your life. What do you need to learn to step into a better situation? How can you maintain your boundaries? How can you practice better self-care or ask for help when you need it?

I have experienced every phase and each one is uncomfortable. Every decision you make or don’t make is a choice. Once I realized my power of choice, I was able to build a plan with the help of a coach and transition into my new career and value-centric life.

Full disclosure, I don’t have kids or large financial obligations so I was able to make bold and quick changes. This is not a recommendation to uproot your life, but burnout is not an isolated condition.

Once you can realize the full impacts and options, you are back in the driver seat of your life, which is the first step to relieving burnout.