Managing Burnout and Stress To Help Your Team Perform at Their Best

This Asher Sales Sense Podcast – “Selling with Authentic Persuasion” – features host John Asher with guest Jordan Benjamin, Founder of My Core OS, working with companies and sales teams to help drive a growth mindset and create championship business cultures. My Core OS is built to help update your personal/corporate operating systems to drive peak performance and harmony between work and life. Jordan also hosts the ‘Peak Performance Selling Podcast,’ interviewing top sellers and sales leaders on how they show up at their best every day.

Mental health in the business environment is a topic that wasn’t talked about much before the pandemic, but stress and burnout in work and life have led to turbulence in the workforce and poor business results.

  • How can personal stress adversely affect business culture and profits?
  • Where do our business leaders have the opportunity to support the mental wellbeing of their teams, while also making sure they achieve their goals?
  • Why is burnout becoming such a widespread challenge in sales today?
  • How can we re-train our brains to manage this pressure more effectively?
  • What are some simple practices people can use to manage this better for themselves?
  • In which direction is business and people management heading?

Listen to the answers of these questions and learn how to move your business and sales teams in calmer and more profitable directions.

Listen to the full podcast

Webinar Transcription

Dave: I’m Dave Potts in the Asher Strategies Studio in Washington, DC. Our host today is John Asher, CEO and founder of Asher Strategies. John’s guest is Jordan Benjamin, founder of My Core OS, creating championship cultures by giving leaders the tools to create an outstanding team and life. The title of the show is – managing burnout and stress to help your team perform at their best. Over to you, John.

John: Well, Jordan, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Jordan: I’m really happy to be here, guys.

John: Great. So this is all about sales, as I know you know, the podcast is, and in this pandemic, mental health has become a much bigger issue and many people just have a shorter attention span. They feel under pressure, and of course, sales is a high-pressure job anyway. And so, now, when you throw all the rest of this on them, you see an awful lot of salespeople buckling under the pressure. So is this something you’ve seen?

Jordan: Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of this coming up. I think in the world today, post-pandemic, in just how the business space has evolved, that you hear mental health, you hear pressure coming up a lot, and folks don’t have the tools or strategies to learn how to manage it. Sales professionals have always been on all the time, hey, call my cellphone, or whatever it might be, over email, but those lines have blurred so much more, especially through the pandemic, to where so many people now are always on. Their cell phone is ringing, they’re getting instant messages or texts, or all sorts of stuff’s happening, where the line between where does work start and stop has been blurred, if not completely disappeared.

Jordan: And so, I think a lot of folks are struggling to figure out how do they manage themselves and live up to their high standards, the performance standards that they want, especially in sales, where somebody I talked to recently mentioned, we don’t have that elevator time, going from the boardroom to the elevator to build rapport, and so things have changed a lot for sellers. And I think companies are needing to evolve and adapt to how they support their teams to give them the tools to manage themselves in this type of environment.

John: Yeah, I’ve also noticed that, just for me, myself, I have worked more during weekends during this pandemic than I ever had, and it just seems like there’s more to do. And I see that also happening with our salespeople, and so we try to manage that as best we can because burnout, depends on people’s personality styles, but burnout, you can get pretty close to burnout pretty quickly if you get overwhelmed with tasks and don’t know how to prioritize, don’t how to say no and that sort of thing. So what are some of the strategies you see people using to manage stress?

Jordan: Yeah, I love the one that you pulled up first there, saying no, being able to understand, what are those tasks that are the value drivers for you, and what are the ones that you should delegate away or should deprioritize? I think there’s a great opportunity there.

Jordan: I’ve also seen a lot of folks looking to understand, what are those types of activities that refresh them, that help them renew or recharge? And that can be different for all of us. I live up in the mountains, and so for me, it’s getting out, going snowboarding, or going for a hike, or a mountain bike ride, or taking… for a walk. Some people that I’ve talked to, want to listen to their favorite song or book, or sit and meditate, or have some quiet time. And so, I think there are a lot of… that folks can manage that.

Jordan: But the other one is setting boundaries. Having some clear boundaries for themselves about, where is my work time, or my workspace, can be really helpful, and saying, “Yeah, I work in my office,” or, “I work at this table and when I move away from it, I create that separation between work and my personal life,” because it’s just so hard to create that, especially when so many people are now working from home when they never expected to.

John: Yeah, I agree. There are some people, and I happen to fall in this category, who get energized when we make a sale so that just means we want to make the next sale faster. And so, you can get into that do a loop of being successful and then wanting to be more successful and taking action to be more successful, and there comes a… can become a dangerous loop.

Jordan: It definitely can be. I also talked to somebody the other day, Kim Orlesky, who is wonderful in the sales world, and she has a little gong at her desk that… She’s been working remote for many years and that was a strategy she had, that she pulled from the office, is she may be on a call with her team and somebody closes a deal and she’s going to hit that gong for somebody having their success, to keep some of those ways to celebrate the wins live like they were when we were in an office.

John: Yeah, I love that gong idea. I’ve trained in 3,100 companies, and so I’ve been to a lot of different companies, and there are some companies you walk in, and right in the reception area is this great big three-foot diameter gong, right, with this great big hammer right next to it. And you can be in a meeting anywhere in that office space, and when a sale happens and the receptionist goes over there, or the CEO, and hits the gong, it just reverberates through the whole company and pumps everybody up. It’s like, damn it, somebody else made a sale and I didn’t yet. I think those types of incentives, even though there’s no money involved, it’s just an incentive to do more, are great. But again, as you suggest, in a pandemic, we don’t want to be working too much and burn ourselves out. Then that’s counterproductive, and I’ve seen it happen.

Jordan: Yeah, it’s really interesting, thinking about, how do we create those positive feedback loops? How do we help folks feel like they’re winning? And it’s not just a matter of, oh, I sold a deal, and now I have to get the next one without at least one breath to enjoy that deal, to enjoy the work that was put into it, and ideally, to learn from it.

Jordan: I think we have such an opportunity to adopt this growth mindset in today’s day and age, to start looking at, how do we learn from the wins and how do we learn from the losses, really looking at what did we do well, and what can we improve on, to train our minds and to train our brain to think about, I can grow, I can develop, I can continue to learn through everything, even if it is that big deal that I thought I was going to win, that I lost, or if it’s my team, we just missed our number. Well, that’s okay. There should be a lot of opportunities to learn and grow from that. But if we’re stuck in a fixed mindset and don’t even believe we can grow, it becomes really hard to move through those different challenges or struggles like the pandemic has presented to many of us.

John: When I was a young pup, Zig Ziglar was at his apex and just a great motivator and a great salesperson, great sales manager too. And he said, “I never lose, I only earn or learn, meaning I earn money because I made the sale, or I learn when I didn’t make the sale about what I can do better.” So that’s what he stuck with me, I either earn or learn.

Jordan: I’m a big Zig Ziglar fan. I think he’s got so many truths that still ring true very well today that many people didn’t learn in school. They didn’t get these types of insights in school and they’ve had to go out and find it from folks like Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy, or now, more folks, and Tony Robbins, Brendan Burchard, and so many others that are bringing these pieces of wisdom to mind, that many of us never got in our childhood education that was supposed to teach us everything we needed to know to be successful humans. But what I found is, a lot of us, and through my own struggles, never got some of those pieces of insight until I had to fall flat on my face and go search it out on my own, so I love the Zig Ziglar idea there.

John: Oh, yeah. You really can’t grow unless you fail, and failing is such a great teacher. And, if you never fail, that means you probably didn’t take enough risks. You didn’t put yourself out there or maybe you weren’t assertive enough. That reminds me of another one of Zig Ziglar’s books, and the title of the book was Timid Salespeople Have Skinny Kids, which I always thought was a funny title. So it means, if you don’t have the assertiveness to ask for the order, you’re probably not going to make a lot of money, so it’s time to find another type of job. So let’s go-

John: Yeah, just, and it’s always amused me. So let’s go back to the tools we can use to help us deal with stress. One is, say no, right? I mean, we learned all that from Good to Great. That was one of the main lessons from that book, learn to say no, and then keep the business and personal separate. So those are two great lessons from this pandemic. And so, learn to say, keep the business and personal apart, and then really reward yourself when you win. So what else, Jordan? What other tools can we use?

Jordan: So I spend a lot of time studying neuroscience and psychology and personal professional development, and what we’re finding is that the brain does continue to grow, the brain does continue to evolve. There’s a process called neurogenesis where we build new neurons, and neuroplasticity, talking about how our brain can rewire itself to have new neural pathways and connections the more that we repeat things. I love this concept of repetition as the mother of skill, and I think that comes from Tony Robbins. And so, the more things that we repeat, the easier it’s going to be for us to do that again and again. And so, I find that there are a lot of opportunities for folks to look at how our brain has evolved over the last 10,000 years. We have mainly been built around keeping ourselves alive with this fight or flight mentality and not creating some space for us.

Jordan: In today’s day and age, when a prospect tells us, “No,” when a team member is struggling or is upset, usually, we’re not at risk of dying. We don’t need to use this fight or flight. So if we can just take a simple, deep breath in between a conversation, in between our next call, or before I respond to my prospect when maybe they give me an objection, I’ll find that I’ll create that more space in my brain, in my mind, in my ability to respond, with a much more effective response. And so, I find many sellers are starting to practice simple meditation that doesn’t have to be religious or anything of the sort but is just building a simple awareness of the breath. We take somewhere around 20,000 breaths a day, and most of them are completely unconscious.

Jordan: So if we can simply come back to saying, “Yeah, I’m going to take a minute or two every day and just notice my breath inhale and exhale,” when those different situations that arise, that typically would snap us into this fight or flight mode, we can say, “Oh, I’ve practiced creating a little bit more space in my reactions, in my responses.” And so, just a simple minute or two of breathing throughout the day or after a tough call can help us program or train our brains to move more in alignment with operating effectively in today’s day and age versus the effective fight or flight mode that kept us alive for tens of thousands of years as humans. It just doesn’t matter as much in today’s day and age.

John: No, that’s a great insight. And speaking of Tony Robbins’ statement about repetition, I think the actual statement that was original way back when came from the Catholic nuns, and I only know that because my wife went to Catholic school all 12 years and she has these knots on the top of her hands from the nuns hitting the top of her hands with the ruler when she didn’t do things right. Anyway, she said that the nuns would say… and so the students would complain, “Why do we have to keep repeating this stuff?” And the nuns would say, “Repetition is the mother of learning,” so I think that’s the original statement before Tony was… before he was born.

Jordan: I would bet you are right.

John: So Jordan, again, thanks so much for being on. It’s a great pleasure to talk to you and hear your great insights on managing stress. I just wanted to pick up on one thing you mentioned about taking a deep breath, and that is, one of my close friends has a son who’s a Navy SEAL. And before Navy SEALS go into an operation, and we all know their operations are usually very risky and very dangerous, and so before they launch off in their operation, as a group, they practice the breathing technique called four, four, four, four. So they breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, breathe out slowly for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and repeat it five times. And they have just totally lowered their stress level, their anxiety, totally gotten rid of, as you mentioned, the fight or flight response to stress or danger. Your insight there is perfect and has been practiced by the Navy SEALS for years.

Jordan: Yeah, and the cool part now is, there’s all this studies and science coming out with fMRI or functional MRI where we can study brain scans as people do different activities, and we notice that there’s actual impact on the brain for folks that practice that type of breathing. We notice that they respond to stress more effectively. We notice that they feel pain a little bit less, in many cases. And so, these practices that, if they’re good enough for the Navy SEALS to show up in their high-pressure stress environment, they’ve got to be pretty good and impactful for sellers where it’s still high stress, but usually, our whole life isn’t on the line. So I love hearing that one.

John: Exactly right. No, great insight, yeah. Yeah, we have a lot of neuroscience and skills in our training, and so what I love about them is, with these functional MRI machines, sales has always been about the art of the sale, how we use our personality to make sales. It’s always been about the sales process, but now with these… MRI results where you show a buyer a picture, or a question, or show the buyer a video, or make a statement to a buyer, then you can see when all the positive hormones light up, the dopamines and oxytocin, you can see when the cortisol lights up or combinations of them.

John: So now, we have real science behind sales as well. And what I love about it is, some of this science behind sales reinforces what we knew as a great technique, shows us a better way to use that technique, and shows how some of the techniques we have been using and I’ve been teaching are incorrect. You’re right, these functional MRI results are just terrific in many, many fields, sales, and as you mentioned, in managing stress.

Jordan: Yeah, I think we’re seeing this just total shift in practices that have been around for thousands and thousands of years that were looked at as maybe woo-woo, or hokey, to have science behind it, backing it up now, and showing why people are now able to manage stress more effectively, or monks that have been sitting in caves for years on end can control their body temperature or lower their heart rates to states that are just unimaginable for most modern humans. And now, seeing how can we take those practices where I don’t work with folks and say, “Oh, you need to go sit in a cave in India for months on end,” or anything of this sort, but how do we find these small spaces or practices that give us the ability to program ourselves to be our best or find the good?

Jordan: Another one that comes to mind when I think about hokey, and I thought it was crazy, was a gratitude practice. But again, if we look back at how our brain has been wired for years and years and years, we were built to look at the world from a place of fear, is this going to kill me, am I going to die, and scarcity, how am I going to make sure I have enough food to survive? Most of us in today’s day and age aren’t going to get killed when our alarm clock goes off, so waking up with that stress response doesn’t feed us much. Looking for the food, it’s at the grocery store, even when things aren’t in season, all these things. So those challenges that we had in the past weren’t there, and as sellers, if we’re focused on scarcity and fear, it becomes challenging for us to find the opportunity and find the good.

Jordan: And so, my grandma always preached this attitude of gratitude, and I thought she was nuts, but I’ve started practicing gratitude for the last 12 or 15 years. Not only are we seeing that come up in scientific studies again, being incredibly helpful, but as I’ve run into different challenges in my life, it’s been so helpful to have this gratitude practice because when you think back to that neuroplasticity concept, if you find more things you’re grateful for in a given day, maybe it’s three things when you wake up in the morning, man, it could be as simple as, I woke up, somebody didn’t today, and I couldn’t tell you why I did, but dang, I’m pretty lucky for that. Or maybe it’s three things at night before you go to bed. Hey, what went well today, because it’s so easy for us.

Jordan: If I go out and ask people this question all the time, it’s like, “Hey, what went great for you today?” And they struggle to come up with an answer, but it’s like, “Oh, what didn’t go well?” And they’re like, “Oh my gosh, my car didn’t start on the first try, somebody told me, ‘No,’ they didn’t make the meeting, my lunch didn’t turn out like I thought it was…” It is so easy for us to find those negative things, but if we can simply have this gratitude practice, it gives us the ability to have more opportunity to have our brain wired to find the good, and I find this helps sellers and sales leaders so much more because, man, it is tough some days in our profession to stand out at our best. And so, there are a lot of different ways that you can do that, whether it’s a journal you write it down in, or it’s just something you think about lying in bed to help settle yourself down for that time when you’re winding down at night and setting yourself up for a great day that next day.

John: No, I think that’s great. To give you a quick example, based on books I’ve read and training courses I’ve been to over my life, I’ve developed a set of four things that I think about when I wake up or just get to my desk. Number one is just what you talked about, today, I am grateful for, right, and then just fill in the blanks, so to speak. Two, this comes from good to great, and we’ve talked about this as the pressure-lowering technique, today, I will let go of, and fill in the blank. Three, I will thank God, or whatever your higher being is, whatever the religion is, for… And then number four, this comes from Dan Pink, today, I will get this one big and really important thing done. So just to follow up on your gratitude, that’s one of my four pillars. Every morning, I fill in the blank.

Jordan: And it works. It’s crazy to me, but I have so many folks that I talk to that are like, “This is nuts. Why would I waste my time on that?” And yet, we see so many people in society depressed, anxious, overstressed. I’ve had many friends that have taken their own lives, even. And this is where I think we have this revolution in business where businesses are now starting to help people be better whole humans because a lot of our education system hasn’t given us these tools to handle the stuff that comes up in our lives outside of… I haven’t had to use trigonometry for quite some time in my sales profession, but I have had to figure out, how do I bounce back from rejection? How do I bounce back from thinking, I’ve got this deal signed, it’s going to get me to my big number, and they say, “No”? I haven’t been taught much of that in school.

Jordan: And that’s where I think we’re starting to see companies talk about resilience, talk about, how do you use these simple… that… I always think about the cliche incantation of like, “Oh, I’m good and I’m nice and people like me.” It sounds goofy, and I think you got to find something that aligns with you well. But Dr. Daniel Amen is about waking up and first thing, saying, “Today’s a great day for a great day.” And how that wires and pre-programs our brains to look for those good parts of the day, just like your morning practice, is powerful.

Dave: John, it’s time for the wrap-up.

John: Hey, Dave. Jordan and I just got started. It can’t be time for the wrap-up.

Dave: It is, unfortunately.

John: So Jordan, it’s so great to have you on. And we talked about a lot of great things. I love the way you talked about the monks because it just occurred to me, I’ve never had this thought before, that yeah, we’ve all heard about the monks and their meditation and all those types of activities, and we all just kind of thought, hey, they’re outliers. But, now that we’re a lot smarter, they’re not outliers. They were practicing the great techniques that, essentially, everybody else in the world ignored. So Jordan, what are two or three big things that the listeners can take away from this and start to practice as a new habit, say?

Jordan: Yeah, so one, I love your thought – today, I’m grateful for. When you wake up in the morning, see if there are three things that you can think of that you’re grateful for and try that on for three weeks, maybe even a month, see how it feels. And if you miss a day, that’s okay. Just bounce back again and start over.

Jordan: Another one is taking a deep breath in between your calls, as you show up into a meeting, to reset and reprogram yourself to move to that next step or take it a level deeper and look up box breathing, or four, four, four, and take a tip from the Navy SEALS on creating a little bit more space and taking away some stress in your life. And then also think about, how can you create separation between where you do your work and where you live your life, because within the pandemic, within working from home, it can be challenging to let your brain shut off from work so you can show up and perform at your best because you need to renew and you need to refresh to perform at your best, opposed to just trying to push, push, push, or hustle through it all.

John: Okay, great. Thanks so much for those three big picture tips. They’re all great. And if people wanted to get a hold of you, Jordan, how would they do so?

Jordan: Yeah. I run a podcast with sales leaders called Peak Performance Selling, or find me at and shoot me a note. I’d love to connect and look forward to chatting with anybody in the sales community. It is my passion where I love spending time, so look forward to connecting with everybody.

John: All right, thanks so much, again.

Jordan: Thanks, all.

Dave: And thank you both. That’s all the time we have for today. For our listeners, be sure to subscribe to Asher Strategies Radio on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast venue. You can also ask Alexa or Siri to play Asher Strategies Radio. From now, until we meet again, John Asher reminds us to please, please get out there and sell something.


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