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Erik Trautman

Technical entrepreneurship, business strategy and product development

How to Fix and Avoid Burnout

Burnout sucks. I'm not talking about that "I can't wait for the weekend" feeling or even the glazed-eye look you gave your parents when returning home from finals week during college. When I refer to burnout, I mean the structural depletion of energy which makes it nearly impossible to raise your head and get real work done. It's a poison that seeps into and sucks the life out of every working minute.

In startup culture, we glorify working ourselves to death in a way which is completely absurd and totally self-imposed. Along my own 5 year rollercoaster building Viking Education, I became intimately familiar with the feeling of burnout. I distinctly remember the numb progression through checklists of tasks that had become divorced of any meaning and putting on a smiling facade which overlaid an inner me who had long since stopped bothering to panic at his lack of excitement for work.

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Clueless

Micro Resolution: Communication Patterns

A respected friend and academic was speaking about something personal. I wish I could recall what it was but the only thing I can remember about the conversation is how incredibly often she used -- clearly without noticing -- the word "like". It was placeholder, punctuation, and security blanket in one. When this person wrote, I knew, it was clear, eloquent and incisive. When she spoke, she undermined every phrase with disqualifiers, fuzzy words and, of course, "like".

I couldn't help myself... I started counting. She used "like" 13 times in one single sentence. Hearing that broke something in my ability to flow with normal conversation and I began noticing similar things that I never had before. It quickly became apparent how important subtle (and not-so-subtle) communication patterns are in determining a speaker's credibility and impact. A few of these stand out more than the rest.

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