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Bosses face perfect storm of worker frustration, exhaustion & burnout. What to do?

Warning: I’m about to say a thing that might hit you wrong…or step on some toes. And in the age of cancel culture, I’m asking that you hang in there with me. It’ll make sense in the end. We good? Okay, let’s go.

So…I asked a client how she was doing last week, and she said, “Honestly Jes, I’m fine. I’m rolling. I know you’re writing about burnout these days, but I’m not burned out. And in full transparency, I think many of my ‘burned out’ colleagues…might not be used to working full days anymore.”

I was struck by her candor. But then she elaborated. “I think some people worked less during COVID, not more. Now that they’re back in the office routine, they’re trying to catch up. Meanwhile, their well-meaning coworkers are filling in the gaps. Those are the folks that are burned out while others…just haven’t regained their footing yet.”

I took a day to sit...

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Refresh yourself, people: Here’s a hot summer bucket list

summer bucket list Jul 28, 2022

Summer is flying by…Geesh!! So this week, I wanted to offer a few (okay, 10) things to enjoy and savor before this gorgeous season takes a bow.

Summer Bucket List

  1. Find some water! Take a walk on the beach, pack a picnic lunch, or see if somebody will take you out on a boat for a relaxing kickback on the water.

  2. Catch a baseball game! Ya’ll know I’m partial to the Durham Bulls but wherever you are…support your local team!

  3. Find an inspiring arboretum or summer flower display. (In Raleigh, we love the Dorothea Dix Sunflower Field or Lavender Oaks Farm in Chapel Hill.

  4. Indulge in a pool day. Bring a novel, sunblock, playlist and jazzy beverages. You’ve probably forgotten how relaxing a good day at the pool can be. *Try making some whimsical jello shots. Check out the ones our staff are crazy about below.

  5. Go on a hot girl walk! Dress up, walk with your best swagger, and enjoy being your powerful beautiful self.

  6. Make homemade...

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Leadership lessons from golf: The game is a beast but …

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Okay, here’s the deal. My friend and Oh, Lords! co-author, Terresa Zimmerman is a force! She’s the founder and CEO of a men’s underwear company called Wood (it’s okay to laugh) and co-founder of Sayhii a company that activates people in the workplace with purpose. She’s also a helluva golfer.

Recently, she invited me to be her ‘guest’ at a two-day, member-guest tournament held over the weekend. When she asked, I said, “Girl, you know I only look the part, right? I have the clubs, the golf shoes and the cute skirts, but my golf game is garbage.” She assured me I’d be fine and we’d have a good time.

Listen, I’m no dummy. I know golf is a beast. It’s a game that can tear you down and build you up in one stroke. If I was going to make it out alive, I would have to focus on three things: my attitude, my coachability and the beverage cart.

Result: not only did I survive, we had...

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People, Passion, Playing: 3 Things I Learned from Girls on the Run International

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Seems like everybody’s on summer break so we decided to keep it light for the month of July. Today is the first of four light-hearted ‘lists of the things’ that keep us smiling over here. Enjoy!

To kick off this light summer series, I want to share with you three things I learned from the 2022 Girls on the Run International (GOTR) Summit, held last week in beautiful Minneapolis.

1. Finding your Passion is not cliché… it might actually solve a lot of the world’s problems right now.

The 400 women (and a few good men) I met at the Girls on the Run Summit are full of passion!  WOW!  They weren’t talking about how tired they were, or complaining that they have no time. No… these beautiful humans were vibrantly exploring ways to pour even more into their passion of inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident!

Most of the women I met aren’t paid for the 15-20 hours a week they...

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Work Weary? Try the 90-Second Refresh

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Last Friday I was having dinner at Rosewater with a team member when something cool happened. We had just ordered drinks and were happily catching up when Graciela, our server, popped back by. Her electric smile, genuine connection and sincere optimism took all of our energy up 10 notches in about 90 seconds. It was as if her energy was on magical currents.

Our evening went from nice to amazing in a blink of an eye. And that’s when it hit us: sometimes all you need is a 90-second refresh.


Now before you think I’m getting all woo-woo on you, I decided to see what was out there on “90 seconds” and guess what? Science supports it.

According to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard neuroanatomist (also known as “brain scientist”) and author of the book “My Stroke of Insight,” ninety seconds is all it takes to let go of a negative emotion.

For example, let’s say you’re...

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From Amish Farm to Entrepreneur...

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

I’m taking a hard left this week to address something that I get asked about regularly.

Many of you know that during the pandemic I left a role I really enjoyed to start my own company. And now, when I’m out and about, I’m often asked: “Girl, how did you do it?”

Sounds straightforward enough. But this isn’t really what folks want to know. The question behind the question is, “Weren’t you scared?” or “How did you know you could make it work?”

So this week I thought we might rewind and level set. Last Thursday, I invited you to think about the power of reinvention. I used the analogy of surfers getting up on their board and asked you to notice the waves of opportunity in your own life.

As a reminder, reinvention is the action or process by which something is changed so much that it appears entirely new. So, if that’s the measure, I’m an expert in...

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Great Resignation or Great Reinvention?

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

It’s summertime and I’m coming in with beach energy and little umbrellas on my mind.

I’m also completely inspired by surfers! First, because they casually enter the “home” of sharks and jellyfish like it’s just another day at the office. And second because they paddle, paddle, paddle, and then, just as a wave swells, they artfully stand up on their longboard and — if timed right — swoop along the shoreline with grace.

If you’ve been following us here on TechWire, you know we compare burnout to a marathon with a finish line that is woefully out of sight. If we move this analogy to the ocean, the equivalent is a surfer who paddles indefinitely in search of a wave — but can’t catch it.

But savvy surfers know a secret. They can sense the shift in the water, and at just the right moment, they confidently stand up and harness the energy of the wave instead of relying on their own strength....

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Cruel Optimism and Bubble Baths

Uncategorized Jun 09, 2022

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

If you’ve been following us here, you are familiar with our analogy for burnout… a never-ending marathon where somebody keeps moving the damn finish line.

Today, I want to talk to my cheerleaders who are standing on the sidelines holding bottles of water and signs that say, “Find Your Happy Pace!” I know you mean well, but be careful you’re not unintentionally slipping into the realm of “cruel optimism.”

Cruel optimism is a phrase invented by Lauren Berlant and adopted by Johann Hari author of Stolen Focus.  He describes it as taking a really big problem with deep causes in our culture (like burnout) and offering a simplistic individual solution in upbeat language.

Here’s how it plays out for our marathon runners.

You’re hot, tired and on mile marker ‘who knows what at this point’.  You’re scouring the countryside for a viable off-ramp when friends on the...

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Because You Can't Run Forever

Uncategorized Jun 02, 2022

So last week I wrote about the never-ending marathon that is burnout. You cross that coveted 26.2 mile marker only to discover the finish line was moved. You keep running a little dazed and confused and think to yourself, “what fresh hell is this?”

That’s what burnout can feel like.

But the reality is we can’t run forever – none of us were built to run indefinitely.

So what do we do? We look for off ramps.

One off-ramp, while tempting, can actually backfire on you. Can you guess what that is?

Quitting your job. (Hello, Great Resignation!)

Here’s what happens. You’re exhausted and burned out. So you say, “Drop the mic! Deuces; I’m out.” It feels GREAT to quit. You throw open the door to the next chapter, smiling ear-to-ear.

(Quick caveat: changing jobs can be the best thing that happens to you. I know. I’ve made a career from reinventing myself many times over…but before you hit send on that resignation email,...

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Who Keeps Moving Your Finish Line?

Uncategorized May 26, 2022

(First appeared in WRAL Techwire.)

Okay… I’m not a long-distance runner. Never have been…never will be. Marathons are built for a special kind of person. But as I continue to interview executives for my series on burnout, one analogy keeps coming up.

Imagine you’re running a marathon. You’ve trained for months, and you’ve made it through arduous hours of running. And then… just as you approach the 26.2 mile marker, just as you think relief and a glorious shower are ahead, you discover… oh, God no… it can’t be…

Somebody has moved the finish line. 

Shoot me now!

You already knew running 26.2 miles was going to require everything in you, and now you have to keep running. You have no idea where the new finish line is. You don’t have a clue when you’ll get to stop. And what the what?! Other runners are sprinting past you!  How did this happen??

Your legs feel like lead. You want to collapse on...

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