How To Recognize B2B Sales Burnout

Tim Clarke is the founder of UNCrushed.org, a platform and community for mental health awareness.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Tim shares practical strategies to help recognise and deal with B2B sales burnout.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Tim Clarke
Founder at UNCrushed.org

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Tim Clarke:

Well, I think the first thing to do is just define what burnout is. It was interesting in the last year, the World Health Organisation, they actually recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis. So it kind of gives it kind of like a diction. If you go back multiple years, people would be like, “Well, it’s a choice.” One of the things I like to do is I have these three circles. And so on the inner circle is really looking at like, what are my behaviours? Am I isolating? Am I cutting myself off from people? Am I not putting in the hours that I should be at work?

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation. My name is Will Barron and I’m the host of the Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, we have the legend, he’s been on the show a few times now, the legend that is Tim Clarke. And he is the CEO of founder of uncrushed.org, which is a platform and a community for mental health awareness.

 

Will Barron:

And on today’s episode, we’re getting into B2B selling burnout, how you can recognise it, how you can deal with it and how you can approach your manager to set some boundaries, a whole tonne of other topics related to this as well. This is a really valuable episode for all salespeople so I’m glad you’re listening to it, or you’re watching it on YouTube if you’re watching the YouTube version of this right now. And with that, let’s jump right into it. Right. Well, on today’s episode, we’re going to get into a topic and we can go multiple ways of it, it’s a conversation, we’ll see where it goes.

 

What Percentage of Either Salespeople or Employees In General Face Burnout Each Year in Their Careers? · [01:40] 

 

Will Barron:

But I want to talk about how we can… The end of the goal, the goal of the show should be how we can avoid to having burnout to B2B sales and we’ll get into why I think B2B sales is particularly set up for burnout and a whole lot more. But, and I don’t want to put you on the spot here if you don’t have the numbers in front of you, but even anecdotally, what percentage of either salespeople or just employees in general face burnout, I guess, each year or in their careers?

 

“Last year, the World Health Organisation actually recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis.” – Tim Clarke · [01:58] 

 

Tim Clarke:

Yeah, well, I think the first thing to do is just define what burnout is. It was interesting in the last year, the World Health Organisation, they actually recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis. So it kind of gives it kind of like a diction. If you go back multiple years, people will be like, “Well, it’s a choice.” But now obviously it’s recognised. So this is what they say in the ICD-11.

 

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.” – Tim Clarke · [02:21] 

 

Tim Clarke:

They say burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, I’m sure we can relate to that sometimes, and reduced professional efficacy. And there’s been a whole bunch of surveys over the years that have looked at research.

 

“I do research around a survey with B2B sales professionals, and of those, 67% of the respondents strongly agreed that they are currently close to burnout or experiencing burnout. There’s another survey that said 95% of human resource executives think that burnout is hurting efforts to retain workers.” – Tim Clarke · [02:57] 

 

Tim Clarke:

UNCrushed, the 501(c)(3), I do research around a survey with B2B sales professionals, and of those, 67% of the respondents strongly agreed that they are currently close to burnout or experiencing burnout. And this is a completely multi-layered thing. It’s not just looking at the impact on the individuals, there’s also a management and executive aspect as well. There’s another survey that said 95% of human resource executives think that burnout is hurting efforts to retain workers.

 

Tim Clarke:

And we look at HR, it’s all about attracting employees, retaining employees, so all the financial impacts. And I’ve just given you a tonne of stuff to work with, but in essence, burnout is real. Burnout is really impacting an individual’s productivity at work. Burnout is hurting someone’s mental health, which has the knock-on effect with one’s family and it’s also impacting organisations as well. And this is all before COVID, by the way, all this research has all before COVID. So imagine what it’s like now.

 

The Diverse Magnitudes of Burnout · [04:03] 

 

Will Barron:

So my partner’s a doctor, I use those anecdotes all the time on the show, and I feel like a lot of medicine is here’s a diagnosis, here is the solution. But it seems like this is more on a sliding scale, right? Because there’s been plenty of times where I’ve been exhausted because of work, I’ve been driving around like a nutter selling medical devices to surgeons that didn’t want it.

 

Will Barron:

I’ve been negative about my job because of not been hitting target because of whatever reason and then the kind of the third element kind of ties into both of them and pulls it all together. But I don’t feel like I felt burnt out. So is this on a sliding scale, Tim? Can we feel some of these things and is it the, I think you used the word chronic stress, is it the chronic element of this that adds up to burnout over time?

 

Tim Clarke:

Yeah. I mean, as you asked me the question, one thing I should say is I’m not a certified medical professional so I’m just going to throw my caveat out there. I’m really speaking about my personal experience and the people that I’ve had these conversations with in the B2B sales industry. I think it can be on a scale. One of the things I like to do is I have these three circles. And so on the inner circle, it’s really looking at like, what are my behaviours? Am I isolating? Am I cutting myself off from people? Am I not going and putting in the hours that I should be at work?

 

Tim Clarke:

In the middle circle, what are some of my slipping behaviours? So perhaps I’m not returning people’s calls, perhaps I’m telling white lies, perhaps I’m not turning on my web camera for a meeting. So these are the slipping behaviours and then on the outer circle, what are the behaviours that I’m actually doing for my mental health? So am I meditating? Am I listening to music? Am I working out? Am I walking the dog? And so sometimes it can help just to spend some time and write out those behaviours because it’s so personalised and individualised and then it can help an individual to recognise where they are on that scale, but it can also manifest itself in different ways.

 

Tim Clarke:

So it could start off with someone, just for example, last time we talked I was a workaholic, I would work around the clock. And I had a manager, this is probably going back to I don’t know 2009, let’s say, and he was worried one time because I didn’t respond to an email within five minutes. And I think he was joking but that was the expectations that I set up for myself, was that I respond to you quickly, that’s what I’m all about. For me, that’s not sustainable.

 

“I guess the key message is you don’t have to hit bottom, reject the job or create arguments or send shitty emails. You don’t have to hit that point in order to start to find some wellness.” – Tim Clarke · [06:56] 

 

Tim Clarke:

I got to, and I’m happy to go into this, I got to a certain point in my life where that didn’t work out anymore. So for me, burnout manifested itself as a complete mental collapse, turning into addiction, turn into different areas. That doesn’t have to be the case for everyone whatsoever. It could turn into someone looking at just their job. They may not be happy at their job anymore, they may want to take on a different role. I guess the key message is you don’t have to hit bottom, reject the job or create arguments or send shitty emails. You don’t have to hit that point in order to start to find some wellness.

 

Will and Tim Talk About Their First Meeting in San Francisco and How You Wouldn’t Tell Tim was Burned Out Because He did a Great Job Keeping it Hidden · [07:08] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. So we’ll lead second half the show with how we can avoid burnout because I’ve got a bunch of notes here already anecdotally from yourself, Tim, of boundaries, perhaps having a journal, having ways to manage and monitor yourself over time, right? But if it’s okay with you, I feel like it’d be useful for the audience to paint a brighter picture of kind of what you went through with this and how this manifested in yourself. Because I think it was, was it three, four years ago that we met in San Francisco and you’re a extremely hard worker, but I would have never have, from a few conversations of you, guessed that perhaps you were feeling stressed and burnt out and often that came kind of beyond that as well.

 

Tim Clarke:

I presented at University of Texas in Dallas, Dr. Howard Dove was a great sales professionals course there. And I was presenting on behalf of Salesforce, talked about the state of sales report that we’d released that year. And it was great. I had all these lovely LinkedIn messages. He’s very great at getting the students to use social media but I felt like a fraud because there was this very well polished guy in the suit, probably wearing the outfit I wore on the last podcast when I didn’t have a beard. And I was watching, I looked 12 years old.

 

Tim Clarke:

But I really felt like a fraud because I had all these students, they’re going, “We want to do this, we want to go into that career. Thank you for inspiring me.” And I had all this other aspects of my life going on. I was in an extremely unhealthy relationship. I hadn’t dealt with the loss of my dad. I hadn’t dealt with various childhood traumas. The way I like to describe it is if you imagine a tree and on the branches, you’ve got things like codependency or lack of boundaries or addiction.

 

Tim Clarke:

And by addiction, I’m not just talking drugs, it could be sex, it could be love, it could be social media, gaming, shopping, any food. So these are the branches, but I needed to look at the roots. What was the reasons for why whatever gap I had inside of me manifested in these ways? And so yeah, so you wouldn’t have known because I did such a great job of keeping it hidden because I couldn’t possibly speak to my peers, speak to my manager and say it.

 

“In the research that we did last year, 60% of the respondents said or agreed or strongly agreed, they would be viewed negatively for taking time off to manage burnout. People don’t want to have these conversations or ask for a mental health day.” – Tim Clarke · [09:36] 

 

Tim Clarke:

And even in the research that we did last year, 60% of the respondents said or agreed or strongly agreed, they would be viewed negatively for taking time off to manage burnout. People don’t want to have these conversations or ask for a mental health day. Plus we talked a bit about this before the show, there’s a cultural aspect as well. British stiff upper lip. You don’t speak about feelings or emotions, I keep it in. So for me-

 

Why Most People Give Irrelevant Answers to The Question of “How are You?” · [10:05]

 

Will Barron:

And sorry to interrupt. Just on that anecdotally again, Tim asked me before, “How’s it going Will? How is the thing?” And I’m like, “Yeah, well, revenue is open, we’re doing this, we’re doing…” I was like, “No, of every course actually on mental health, this is not the question that I was asked.” And that was just what was top of my mind. And I made that assumption. And it wasn’t an assumption via Tim, you as we were going through our conversation. It was, that must be what people on a business podcast want to know when that wasn’t accurate, was it?

 

“I think this is a really tough one for employees, whether it’s any aspect of mental health or burnout, how do you start to ask for help?” – Tim Clarke · [11:12] 

 

Tim Clarke:

Yeah. And if I go back to several years ago, everything for me was about business. I didn’t understand why people had kids, why can’t you respond to my email quicker? But for me now, I have a life. I know what’s important to me. And work is massively important to me. However, my wellness is really important to me as well. And that’s because I’ve looked at some of those root causes and now have found healthier coping mechanisms at the branch level. So I think this is a really tough one for employees. And whether it’s any aspect of mental health or burnout, is how do you start to ask for help?

 

“In America, one in five people, again, pre-COVID, there’s probably five in five now, experience a mental illness yet nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness don’t receive mental health services.” – Tim Clarke · [11:18]

 

Tim Clarke:

And again, this is one of the things that we looked at when we created UNCrushed, which was in America, one in five people, again, pre COVID, there’s probably five in five now, experience a mental illness yet nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness don’t receive mental health services. And that was astonishing to me and that’s why I decided to go public with my story, my personal experience. It could jeopardise me at some point.

 

Tim Clarke:

If I apply for a job, who knows what, to put it on the legal side, legalities to one’s side, I could easily be discriminated against, my story’s all over the internet. But it’s so important to me to share my truth because when I was struggling, if I knew Will that you had an issue with, let’s say cocaine, or you were struggling with burnout and you recovered from it, I would have come and talked to you. And for me, there was a coworker who had shared with me a few years before some of his personal challenges and I went to that person because he had shared with me his personal experience.

 

Tim Clarke:

And for me, that’s where the connection is so important and that’s why I share my truth and have this deeper level of conversation, because this is authentic. Because people deal with shit. And I just think we’re just lying to ourselves if we’re saying we don’t experience this. Look at COVID this year, and now we’re all working from home and people are homeschooling. It’s just getting worse and worse and worse. And so how do we…

 

“The opposite of burnout is connection. It’s so important that we connect with each other and that we talk about this. And I think it’s challenging in B2B sales. We all have to maintain a certain professional image. I’m not suggesting you call up a prospect and say, “Hey, yeah I got drunk last night,” or, “I’m really struggling with burnout.” But how do you find your safe people that you can talk to and take care of yourself?” – Tim Clarke · [13:01] 

 

Tim Clarke:

Johann Hari who’s an amazing researcher, he’s got a couple of TED Talks and he talks about the opposite of addiction is connection. And that’s so powerful for me. And again, replace the word addiction with mental health or burnout, the opposite of burnout is connection. It’s so important that we connect with each other and that we talk about this. And I think it’s challenging in B2B sales. We all have to maintain a certain professional image. I’m not suggesting you call up a prospect and say, “Hey, yeah I got drunk last night,” or, “I’m really struggling with burnout.” But how do you find your safe people that you can talk to and take care of yourself?

 

How to Differentiate Between Burnout and Fatigue · [13:41]

 

Will Barron:

So how do we know if this is affecting us? And I don’t mean that flippantly, and I’ll give you from an ongoing joke that I have with my partner. So she comes home from work, she’s a doctor. She deals especially with COVID, she deals with all these crazy things. And I will force her to tell me everything that’s going on and I can see her be relieved, right? She gets off her chest. I can physically see her posture change. And if she wasn’t with me, she’d be absolutely fine, she’d deal with it all. And she’s trained in it as well.

 

Will Barron:

Clearly salespeople aren’t trained in how to deal with and maybe sales people aren’t dealing with what she sees every day, fine. With that said, they ongoing joke that we have is she’ll turn around and go, “Well, how are you?” And I’ll be like, “I’m fine.” And then I’ll tell this daft story about anything that is wrong with me. As I’m a bloke, I’ll stuff into a tiny little ball, throw it to the back of my brain. Eventually it will stack up and actually be worth kind of uncovering and embracing and do some discovery on, but for now, I just kind of crush it up.

 

Will Barron:

And I’m joking when I say this to her because I feel fine. But how do we know when our lives are being… how do we know when we are getting burnt out versus we’ve just worked particularly hard this week and we’ve had a bit of a cold? And again, do you understand I’m not trying to make this flippant, I’m trying to say, how do we know when, okay, enough is enough?

 

Tim Clarke:

So I think there’s a few things there. What I hear again, with the kind of stuffing in, Brené Brown refers to this as toxic masculinity. And she’s a researcher at University of Houston in Texas and I think her TED Talk on shame is the second most watched TED Talk of all time. And she talks about how she would do a book signing, but she would only research shame for women. And the husband of a woman came up to her to get the book signed and he said, “Why don’t you research men?” And she was like, “No, I just research women.”

 

Tim Clarke:

And he talked about how his wife and daughter would rather see him die on the horse than fall off the horse. And there is this imbalance here as well, some generalisations coming up here now, women are a lot better at coming forward and speaking about their feelings, men in general are not. And again, that’s like B2B sales, people probably are not going to come forward like you would if you were a therapist, therapists get therapy as well.

 

Tim Clarke:

And so I think the first step that we need to do is to actually feel comfortable with talking about our emotions, again, going back to that safe person. And this is all part of breaking down stigmas. We’ve seen a number of movements this year around discrimination, inequality, and I put mental health in the same bucket. Why should I discriminate against someone because they’ve been struggling with something in their life. And it is tough. I’ve been on disability several times. And so I worry how I would be perceived in the workplace. Am I still strong enough? Am I not?

 

“What boundaries do you have for yourself? So if you are committed to working eight hours a day or to securing a certain amount of leads per day, or to having a certain amount of customer conversations a day but then you’re doing maybe double that or triple that just because you want to keep pushing, that may be fine if that’s within your boundaries.” – Tim Clarke · [16:42] 

 

Tim Clarke:

But very specifically going back to your question, I think the answer is boundaries. You go back to those circles, what boundaries do you have for yourself? So if you are committed to working eight hours a day or to securing a certain amount of leads per day, or to having a certain amount of customer conversations a day but then you’re doing maybe double that or triple that just because you want to keep pushing, that may be fine if that’s within your boundaries.

 

Tim Clarke:

If you’re doing that repeatedly every single day, I mean, I’m not the person to say what’s right and what’s wrong, but it comes down to the individual and they need to… Well, they don’t need to do anything, but they get the opportunity to set their own boundaries. So I think first of all, it’s within the individual. I think secondly is looking at the relationship with the manager. Again, there are different leadership styles out there. And sometimes there are some jokes that a manager may make. There may be a lack of training potential. It may not be a safe environment to come forward and share.

 

Tim Clarke:

The amount of times I’ve cried on my one-to-one with my manager, I feel extremely comfortable and I feel lucky for that relationship. So what level of communication do you have? And then finally, what do you have within the team? Is it the sort of team that is extremely competitive? When I was in sales 10 years before I moved over to marketing and I find it can be such an individualised sport as well as a team sport.

 

“To me, mental health is like wounds. And then how do you start to heal or change your relationship with those wounds?” – Tim Clarke · [18:14] 

 

Tim Clarke:

So the people you’re working with, is there a lot of gossip, is there a lot of rumour? Because all of these little things, they’re like little cuts. I mean, to me, mental health is like wounds. And then how do you start to heal or change your relationship with those wounds? But people normally think it’s, oh, my dad died, that’s a big wound. Or someone was caught in a car crash, that’s a big wound. But it’s called big traumas and little traumas. And as you look at the little traumas, there are these little paper cuts, and it could just be someone gossiping about you or bitching about you on social media. These things can start to take their toll. So I gave you a very long answer there but hopefully that helps.

 

Will Barron:

I get my experience, this mirrors this a lot, which is really interesting, right? Because I’ve never… And this is part of the problem. I’m my worst enemy in that I don’t really care if someone’s gossiping about me. I remember at one of the company I worked at, it was the last company I worked for before I started the business. I had a beard, but basically this, in fact, it might have been slightly shorter than this and we weren’t allowed beards.

 

Will Barron:

But clearly no one can say that you can’t have a beard, HR would have a nightmare with that so it was like a non verbal rule. And I went to this national sales meeting with a beard. I was the only person, the company only hired male sales reps. It was massively, I’m not saying it was massively sexist for it might appear from the outside to look that way as I’ve just kind of like outed who the company was by saying it was the last organisation I worked for.

 

Will Barron:

So and I went to this and there was so much bitching and gossiping and, “Oh my God, Will’s got a beard.” And then the national sales manager came over and I was like, “Look, mate, are you bothered by this?” And he said, “No,” shook his head and that was the end of it. So I feel like… Where I’m going with this is, that’s still fine, that doesn’t bother me. But on the flip side, whether it’s programming, it’s societal programming, if I was nervous about that, I wouldn’t have asked permission for it. I feel like I’ve been programmed and trained as a bloke to, what’s the saying, take the action and ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

 

How Much Burnout or Mental Health is Influenced by Our Environment Versus the Pressure We Put on Ourselves? · [20:10] 

 

Will Barron:

I feel like anything where I have been stressed out at work, if I’m doing more hours than what I should be, if I haven’t set good boundaries, it’s not necessarily the organisation that is pushing it on me because I feel fine to say, “I’m not answering my phone up to 6:00 PM, you’re not paying me for that time.” But I feel like anytime I have been feeling the symptoms of your describing here Tim, it’s because I put it on on myself as opposed to external forces. So with that, how much of this is put on us via our environments and how much of it is just put on ourselves?

 

“In the research that we did, 55% of the respondents strongly agreed that their office surroundings are highly politically charged, 43% strongly agreed their work environment is toxic.” – Tim Clarke · [20:47] 

 

Tim Clarke:

I think it can really be a combination. I mean, again, research that we did, 55% of the respondents strongly agreed that their office surroundings to be highly politically charged, 43% strongly agreed their work environment is toxic. So essentially we’re looking at kind of a 50/50 set up here. It’s going to be so individualised. We had one of the gentlemen I worked with in Canada, Jeff Riseley and he runs the Sales Health Alliance. And we were having this LinkedIn conversation around mental health and how do you feel comfortable in approaching your manager to take a day off work? And someone started engaging on the thread saying, “Well, if someone had raised a question for mental health there, I’ll fire them now.”

 

Will Barron:

Wow.

 

Tim Clarke:

Now, let’s just put aside that conversation between the… well, potential conversation between the individual manager. All of a sudden, now me, I go on his LinkedIn profile and I see what company he works for, never going to work for that company now. And so people really are looking, and I will come back to your question, people are looking for organisations that are supportive of mental health and mental wellness. If we look at HR, what are the two main focuses? It’s attracting talent and it’s retaining talent. It goes way above and beyond the number right now, particularly with COVID.

 

“There’s still a big area of development for managers. If I was a manager and someone came up to me and said, “Hey, I’m really struggling with an addiction problem,” I probably would know what to say to that, most managers would not know what to say to that. And in general, organisations don’t actually want to know the specifics because it could open them up to a discrimination claim.” – Tim Clarke · [22:30] 

 

Tim Clarke:

So I think from a cultural aspect, going back to your question, there is a focus for many organisations right now, they’re doing training, how do you not have unconscious bias? How do you start to create… Like at Salesforce, we have so many wellness initiatives, it’s great. Most organisations of a certain size have an employee assistance programme with lots of benefits. There’s still a big area of development for managers. If I was a manager and someone came up to me and said, “Hey, I’m really struggling with an addiction problem,” I probably would know what to say to that, most managers would not know what to say to that.

 

“If you’re listening to this specifically and you’re struggling, you don’t have to share all the details with your organisation, that information is protected. But it is important that you can work to find your voice and ask for help.” – Tim Clarke · [22:52] 

 

Tim Clarke:

And in general, organisations don’t actually want to know the specifics because it could open them up to a discrimination claim. So one thing, if you’re listening to this specifically and you’re struggling, you don’t have to share all the details with your organisation, that information is protected, but it is important that you can work to find your voice and ask for help. So I think that’s the organisational level. The personal level, I think this could really go back to childhood.

 

Tim Clarke:

If I look at my relationship with my mom and dad growing up, well, my mom had postpartum depression through all three kids. And so the messages there I got, even though she was struggling with her mental health, was I’m unlovable, I’m not worthy of love, I’m not good enough. And then my dad, very strict, physical, hitting with the belt and punishing, neglect and yet still really loving. And so it was like here’s love and then now I take this love back. And so for me as an adult, the child was running my life as an adult.

 

Tim Clarke:

And so you look at in the sales world like as long as I’m hitting my number and as long as I’m continuing to generate X, Y, and Z, great. Can’t believe I just said Z, Z I’m becoming way too American here.

 

Will Barron:

That was terrible Tim. That’s a shocker.

 

Tim Clarke:

I know.

 

Will Barron:

You’ll be saying what, aluminium next?

 

“You may look at me and go like, “Hey, you’ve lost some weight.” I may internalise that as going, “Oh, I was really fat before,” rather than taking your comment. And so the key message here is you don’t know what someone has going on behind their eyes, whether it’s something very strong or weak, but either way, just to be really careful with your words.” – Tim Clarke · [24:17] 

 

Tim Clarke:

Aluminium, can’t bring myself to that. But yeah, so essentially it’s for the individual, what are your boundaries? And then really look at where the message is coming from. One final example is you may look at me and go like, “Hey, you’ve lost some weight.” I may internalise that as going, “Oh, I was really fat before,” rather than taking your comment. And actually the week that we’re recording this is invisible disabilities awareness week. And so the key message here is you don’t know what someone has going on behind their eyes whether it’s something very strong or weak, but either way, just to be really careful with your words.

 

How to Set Boundaries with Our Sales Managers that are Both Professionally Acceptable and Appropriate for Our Own Mental Wellness · [25:06]

 

Will Barron:

So let’s get real practical now. For anyone who’s listening to this who’s thinking, “I’ve got these symptoms that Tim is describing. I’m not feeling great. I have been doing the usual bloke thing if it’s a mum listening of what Will does and shove it into a little ball, throw it away until it scuppers him later in life.” Clearly not ideal. What do we do if we want to set better boundaries with our sales manager? And let’s paint worse kind of case scenario here Tim. And maybe our sales manager is a bit of an asshole, she’s a bit of an asshole.

 

Will Barron:

How do we go about telling them that we only get paid to work 9:00 til 6:00 or whatever the hours are and we don’t feel it’s appropriate to be answering emails within five minutes, taking calls, running around after customers or whatever it is, and we need to, as you said, and I’ve highlighted this, which we’ll come back to, you have a life outside of sales? How do we set a boundary of our sales manager that is both professionally appropriate, but also appropriate for our own mental wellness as well?

 

Tim Clarke:

I think the first thing is communication. It’s understanding, first of all, what are the manager’s expectations of you as an individual? If they give you a massive list of expectations which are just impossible to do within those hours, then it’s conversation and asking how am I meant to do this within those hours? So that’s really important then just to understand, is your job even possible within the hours that you have?

 

Tim Clarke:

I think the other key thing is understanding like, what does your life look like? What do you want it to look like this? I’m sure we’ve all read, well, that’s a big generalisation, many of us have read the stories online of people in their eighties or nineties looking back at their lives and they don’t want to just look at how much career success that they had. So what does my life look like? And if I look at COVID early on this year, my life consisted of working, Netflix, eating and sleeping. That’s not how my life looks like today.

 

Tim Clarke:

I’m very intentional at getting out of the house, doing exercise, taking my dog for a walk, going for hikes. And so for the individual, I would say, pen and paper is always so critical. Get away from the computer, really just get this pen to paper and look at what does your life look like? And then from that you can, if you’re like me where I really like my structure, I start to plan this all out in my calendar. So I go to various 12 step meetings as part of my recovery. They’re non-negotiable for me because if I don’t have my sobriety, then the rest of the stuff falls apart for me.

 

Tim Clarke:

That 12 step meeting could be a therapy meeting, for example, strongly advise or encourage people to seek professional help. And that may be one-on-one, it could also be community that support help as well. So on a group basis each month I host a grief support group of people in their twenties and thirties. So I’ve done all this work to look at what are the support levels that I need, and that’s what I would encourage for individuals as well.

 

Tim Clarke:

And I will say that this has taken me a good few years to learn about all this stuff. And so in the middle of 2017, which is when everything came down for me, I didn’t know anything about this, like a therapist, rehabs, 12 step meetings. And so that’s where it’s so important that you just ask that question or ask the same as a sales question, an open-ended question to understand what initiatives does your organisation have for mental health, and then from there looking at what would work for you.

 

Will Barron:

And I feel like there’s… and you might tell me off here because maybe I’m pitching the wrong message and so do be kind of… don’t feel like you have to hold your tongue here Tim. But I often talk about sales being there’s two ways to have a career in sales, right? There is long-term success. You work 9:00 till 6:00, whatever the hours are, that doesn’t really matter. You have a life outside sales and you plot along, you earn great money and you crush it and you retire probably a little bit earlier than what everyone else is retiring because you got the opportunity of the value that you can add to your buyers directly translates into revenue and cash in your pockets.

 

Will Barron:

Now the oval end, this is how I’ve always done it, so I feel like that’s one way. I feel like being in the middle is the problem, but that’s one way. The other way is to treat sales like a startup and you go into crazy mode for five years and you just try and gather as much revenue as you possibly can. This is what I did, then I started my own business in which case, then I’m now… I feel like I’ve now bought my time. I still have to work to earn revenue but I now own my time, I can do whatever I want when I want within reason.

 

The State of Mental Well-being in Sales and How to Take Care of Your Mental Health Working in Sales · [29:44] 

 

Will Barron:

So I feel like they are the two ways I always recommend salespeople go about sales. Just if possible, work your nuts out there three, four, five years, save a chunk of cash in the bank, pay off your mortgage, whatever it is, produce your responsibilities. As long as you can hack it in that intense period, you’ve set yourself up and you can retire earlier than ever before, whatever it is. And I still think working in a sales job, you’re probably going to adjust as much money as the chances of succeed in your own startup anyway. And so they’re the two things I recommend. Am I right?

 

Will Barron:

Is it fair then to say that’s probably not great for mental health, but you can get it over and done with, and the longer, more succinct way of doing things is probably better for your mental health long-term? Is it fair then to say Tim, that being in the middle of those two areas is where things tend to fall apart?

 

Tim Clarke:

I think it can fall apart in any end of that spectrum. When again, you can Google this, there’s such a high percentage of burnout within the startup industry, it’s just so challenging. And then what you’ve just shared there is a success story, there are many stories which are not successes. And so then someone will go… Or even with successes, someone would go from one startup to another startup to another startup. My background’s not in startups so I haven’t had that personal experience.

 

Tim Clarke:

We have a number of people on the… volunteers on the UNCrushed team though who do work for startups and one of them’s in HR. She’s extremely busy with regards to supporting those employees. I think the other thing as well is you don’t know what you may be disposed to. And what I mean by that is I had no history of addiction in my family whatsoever. However, when I add in the stuff that happened in my childhood, add in the sudden loss of my dad in 2013, add in workaholism at whatever level and then someone offers me a certain substance, really bad set up for failure.

 

Tim Clarke:

Many people are also genetically disposed to addiction and mental health issues in general around depression and so on. And again, my caveat earlier, I’m not a mental health professional. And so the short answer is that you could be any end of the spectrum. Burnout, it may take some people several years to reach burnout and may take someone a couple of months to reach burnout. And as I said, depending on what your… remember those circles, the outer circle is, depending on what behaviours you’re exhibiting in the outer circle, you may fold real quickly.

 

Survival Bias and How Different People Reach Chronic Burnout Levels at Diverse Points in Time · [32:20]

 

Will Barron:

That is a brilliant point and it’s something I talked about on other shows for other reasons, but we’ve got to take into account survivor bias, right? Of the people I have on the show who would just say hustle, hustle, hustle who are driving Ferraris, are doing really well. Well, for every one of those who are saying that, there’s probably 50, a hundred, a thousand people who have suffered for all of this, right?

 

Tim Clarke:

Yeah. And kind of the… I want to say something extremely rude to those people. They can go hustle, hustle, hustle, but that’s their personal choice. For me, that would have been me several years ago as I shared with the example earlier on. For me now, I want to look at how many people’s lives can I really help. We actually ran many events for Salesforce employees this year around mental health and UNCrushed actually partnered with Salesforce around one this year.

 

Tim Clarke:

And we had five or six employees sharing their personal experiences around mental health, and that was covered from addiction to depression, to burnout. And that was so powerful for me just to connect with them and to understand their personal experiences. So to me, that’s what success looks like. Clearly, I still want the great job and I love the employer and I’m grateful, it funds a certain lifestyle that I have. However, I want more from that. And so for me personally, hustle, hustle, hustle wasn’t an option for me because I just have different goals in my life.

 

Tim Clarke:

So actually going back to the start of this, who am I to say to someone eff you? That’s not right. For me, that’s not right. For someone else, maybe it is. I’ve just done a lot of work in understanding what’s important to me and how do I want to make an impact in this world? And I think Marc Benioff talks about this, the business of businesses is changing the world and we’ve seen this so many times. And I don’t speak on behalf of Salesforce here, I speak kind of from the outside as well as an employee.

 

Tim Clarke:

But it’s so powerful to see for me as an individual to see a company that let’s look at Indiana, for example, I think was 2016 when Mike Pence signed in… or wanted to sign in certain legislation to discriminate against LGBTQ employees, and then Salesforce decided we’re standing up against this and were trying to pull out all their employees. I aspire to be someone like Marc Benioff, not to work as many hours as he works, but to stand up for what’s right, rather than just putting money and shareholders first. It goes full circle back to your question earlier on about individual versus employer. I’m grateful for the employer I work for because I truly believe that they care.

 

Will Barron:

So we’ve covered a lot of ground here, Tim. We’ve covered perhaps some of the signs and symptoms that you might be facing burnout, even if you haven’t realised it yet. We’ve touched on the, there’s probably a way to describe this, but the man element of this. We’re both blokes out here, we’re both probably not as open or me anyway. I’ve not been as open as what I should be in perhaps discussing this thing with my partner, or getting help with different things that I’ve been through, right?

 

Will Barron:

We’ve been through setting boundaries of our sales manager. You’ve just touched on building an actual life rather than just working every hour of every day. Because as you alluded to, there’s tonnes of studies and there’s a good book, I don’t remember the name of it, where a researcher went and looked at elderly patients. And my partner’s a geriatrician so I have these conversations regularly. But this research she looked at elderly patients as they were in hospice and what they regretted in life basically. And it’s a really positive book, it seems like it’s negative, and a lot of it is the regretted time they spent at work.

 

The Resources Tim Would Recommend for People Battling Mental Health · [36:30] 

 

Will Barron:

They would have rather earned less money, had a Porsche rather than a Ferrari, a Golf rather than a Porsche, whatever it is and they would have rather have seven dogs and spent more time with the family. So we’ve touched on that as well. But for anyone who wants to learn a little bit more, down to his UNCrushed org, which we’ll touch on a second. But prior to that, Tim, are there any books you recommend? Are there any resources, are there any other places that they can go before we then wrap up by talking about UNCrushed?

 

Tim Clarke:

Yeah. I mean, for me, Brené Brown’s research has been so inspiring. And she has a couple of Dare to books where both at the individual level, really focusing on a number of techniques like gratitude lists through to a manager as well, so that’s called Dare to Lead and really just looking at how you can be an inspiring manager. Thankfully, I listened to a number of the Joe Rogan Podcast as well.

 

Tim Clarke:

One of my favourite episodes is with Johann Hari where he really just talks about how addiction is treated in the world by different countries and legalisation, decriminalisation, shame. Because for me, all these things contribute to burnout and contribute to mental illness. I will caveat this with I have also gone down a rabbit hole of self-help books and self-help podcasts and sometimes it’s just good just to pick up the phone and call someone else and just ask how they’re doing.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. One book that’s… Have you heard or have you read, I can’t remember what the author’s name was as of head, it’s called A Road Less Travelled?

 

Tim Clarke:

I haven’t heard of that.

 

“A healthy relationship is when two people both choose to be together as opposed to needing each other and they’re intertwined.” – Will Barron · [38:02] 

 

Will Barron:

I will send you a copy of it. This book, big thick book by, I think he’s a clinical psychologist. I learned two things from it. One, a healthy relationship is when two people both choose to be together as opposed to need each other and they’re intertwined. And I’ve built with my partner now and I keep bringing her up, clearly I feel like there’s some subconscious thing here that I need to have a chat with her about my mental health after this conversation.

 

Tim Clarke:

You’re just sharing so much on your personal life, that’s great.

 

Will Barron:

That’s one side. But that helped me. When I explain that to her and that concept, she’s like, “Oh yeah, that makes total sense.” And she’s really independent, I’m really independent, but we choose to be together as opposed to be so tangled up. And the other thing I learned from it as well, which I think ties into some of what we’re talking about here is the moment that you become an adult, and I’m paraphrasing here, I’m not doing the book justice, but the book talks about the moment you become an adult is the moment that you can say no to your parents and you don’t care about it.

 

Will Barron:

And I know even lots of my friends now, and clearly I’m not going to call anyone out because I know a couple of them listen to the show, but their mom will ring them up and they’d be like, “Oh, I’ve got to get this and I’ve got to do that.” And they’re so entwined into the thoughts and opinions, especially of the parents, but of other people as well. But they have to… The parents’ opinions, they treat them the same as when they were a child.

 

Understanding Mental Health and Teaching Yourself Life Hacks on Managing Burnout and Chronic Stress · [39:30]

 

Will Barron:

And when you’re a child, you don’t know about, you’re learning from your parents hopefully and they’re there to guide you and put in the right place. But when you become an adult, you can choose to listen to them, you don’t have to. And there are two things I got from that book and they’re being brought up in this conversation directly or indirectly, Tim. And I think there’s a lot value in. I’ll link to the book in the show notes for everyone who’s listening and I’ll send you a copy. But I got an awful lot from that book. And yeah, I feel like if I hadn’t have learned these few kind of life facts that no one teaches you, right? Maybe I would be a different person now as well.

 

Tim Clarke:

And one thing that jumped out for me there was when you were an adult. And so I would just question like, are you an adult, not you as an individual, but for the listeners and the watchers? As I shared, I was… let’s go back a few years, 11-year-old operating in a 31-year-old’s body because I had to grow up way too fast as a kid. And no one really teaches you around boundaries and how to act as an adult, and I’m not just talking about the material things.

 

“When we look at the pandemic or COVID and the amount of suicides that have gone up, the overdoses that have gone up, burnout that’s gone up, this is real. It’s not like the conversation around climate change, for example, which I think is extremely real. Mental illness is extremely real.” – Tim Clarke · [40:33] 

 

Tim Clarke:

I think the one last thing I want to add is I think some people may watch this and go, “Well, yeah. But we’ve got to work really hard because we still got to bring in some good money.” And so everything I’m saying, this is just my personal journey of recovery, and these are the personal decisions that I’ve made for myself. When we look at the pandemic of COVID and the amount of suicides that have gone up, the overdoses that have gone up, burnout that’s gone up, this is real.

 

Tim Clarke:

It’s not like the conversation around climate change, for example, which I think is extremely real. Science is… Yeah, and this is America that we live in. Mental illness is extremely real. And so I think all I’m doing is sharing my personal experience in the hope that one other person may go, “Hey, this may actually help if I take some time for myself.”

 

The UNcrushed Mental Health Community · [41:23]

 

Will Barron:

Well look, 30, 40,000 people are going to listen to this and view it on YouTube, Tim. So I’m definitely thinking you are going to help… you’ll touch a few people here and got a few people thinking and a few cogs turning, I’m sure. So with that, tell us about UNCrushed, where we can find out more about you as well, mate.

 

“UNcrushed. The reason we came up with the name is actually with B2B sales. How many times have you been told to crush it, crush your number, crush your quota but you’re getting crushed yourself? So how do you become uncrushed? And a big part of that is through connecting on people’s personal experiences.” – Tim Clarke · [41:52] 

 

Tim Clarke:

I’m representing my lovely UNCrushed shirt. So UNCrushed is really a platform or community to help people connect with each other and share their personal experiences with mental health. It’s completely free, it’s completely open. We have over 150 people that have come forward and shared their personal experiences over the last year. And it’s so important. And the reason we came up with the name is actually with B2B sales.

 

Tim Clarke:

How many times have you been told to crush it, crush your number, crush your quota but you’re getting crushed yourself? So how do you become uncrushed? And a big part of that is through connecting on people’s personal experiences. So it’s all free, all open. We have a tonne of resources out there as well, international, so both predominantly US and UK to connect people with support, whether it’s addictions, schizophrenia, eating disorders, sexual abuse, domestic violence, depression, the whole spectrum.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, I’ll link to everything that we talked about included uncrushed.org in the show notes to this episode over at salesman.org. I needed to word that carefully, I think. So I would never forget my own demo name, Tim. And with that mate, I want to thank you for coming on the show. I think this sounds really weird and cheesy, but I think you’re a brave fellow for opening up like this and sharing these stories.

 

Will Barron:

I think that we touched on it a bunch of times, there’s a weird male archetype of just shut up and get on with it and I think you booking that and being open is a real value to men, women, and whoever else is listening to the show as well. So I appreciate that Tim. I appreciate you and I want to thank you again for joining me on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Tim Clarke:

Thanks Will, it’s been a pleasure.

 

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