Startup Burnout

The Startup podcast that tracks the real-time evolution of a podcast business, Gimlet Media, aired an episode titled, Burnout.

The episode comprised mostly interviews held together with a narrative that got across some of the core qualities of burnout.

The beginning point was the exhaustion arising from long hours of intense work. A new business bridges the gap between its limited resources and its aspirations by over-extending its people. The business may lack the money to hire who it needs or the right talent may take a long time to find.

But people can sustain extraordinary effort when they believe in what they’re doing and when they have hope for a rewarding, sustainable future.

The podcast show those beliefs becoming shaky. Producers expressed concerns about maintaining high quality production when working through their exhaustion. They felt intimidated by staffing reduction that would arise from a kay person’s looming paternity leave. Their hopes diminished when they heard their boss be dismissive of their request for enlisting additional editorial expertise.

These conversations got across that in addition to exhaustion, the experience of burnout includes losing the capacity for intense creative involvement and losing confidence in the quality or importance of the work.

The power of the episode comes from the depth it gives to the burnout experience. It goes beyond the usual narrative of exhaustion through overwork. While exhaustion creates the opportunity for burnout, the definitive parts of the syndrome are the diminished engagement and discouragement that occurs when hopes diminish.

The episode also pointed towards action that could make a difference through listening.

More on that later.


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