Avoid Burnout with Michael Levitt of Breakfast Leadership

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Michael Levitt, founder of Breakfast Leadership Network

Michael Levitt is a man of many talents. He is the founder of the Breakfast Leadership Network, a certified virtual speaker, a therapist, and a corporate trainer. Besides, he is also an authority on preventing burnout and helping people recover from it.

At the Breakfast Leadership Network, Michael Levitt serves as the Chief Burnout Officer, where he trains entrepreneurs and managers to “establish boundaries in their work and personal lives,” enabling them to achieve more by doing less. Since Michael knows that there are tasks that only leaders can do, they need training and coaching in assembling their priorities so they can do these tasks. The company also trains leaders and managers in delegating tasks through systematic plans regarding the persons to receive the tasks and why they should do them.

Michael Levitt is also a best-selling author, having written the book “369 Days: How to Survive a Year of Worst-Case Scenarios,” and co-written “Pre-emptive Strike Leadership: Neutralizing Behavioral Threats That Are Infiltrating Your Organization.”

Aside from writing, Michael Levitt is also an accomplished speaker. In September 2018, he has gone on a “Personal Development Tour on SmartPhone Burnout.” Earlier that year, in May, he has also spoken at the Beckers Hospital Review, where he discussed Nurse Bullying and Burnout.

Check out more interviews with expert business managers here. You can also listen to Michael Levitt give his September 2018 talk here.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Michael Levitt: Back in 2009, over a period of 369 days, I had a heart attack that should’ve killed me, lost my job during the Great Recession, had my car repossessed by my bank, and finally my home was foreclosed. It was definitely a year of worst-case scenarios! All of those things happened because I was completely burned out, and wasn’t taking care of myself, or my responsibilities.

Since then, I reinvented myself, learned what burnout was and how it happens, and I haven’t burned out since. I saw too many people going through the same challenges I faced back in 2009, so I felt I needed to do something about it, so I launched the Breakfast Leadership network to address burnout.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Michael Levitt: Launching a business is a stressful endeavor on a good day, but launching one while simultaneously maintaining my nonprofit CEO role made for some longer than desired days. Because I didn’t want to burn out doing this (not good PR for the “burnout guy” to burn out), it took longer to grow my business than I would have liked, but in hindsight it was worth the wait.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Michael Levitt: Kind of silly, but when I launched my podcast, my podcast logo wouldn’t show up properly on iTunes podcasts for the first couple of months. I couldn’t figure out how to correct the image, until I finally figured out to look up the size requirements. Once I corrected the image size, voila! The image showed up.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

Michael Levitt:

  1. Know what you’re good at, and know what you suck at doing. We think as leaders we can do everything amazing. We can’t. We are not all great at everything, but we are great at a few things. Discover those few things, and figure out how you can spend more time on those things.

  2. Write out the desired outcomes. When you delegate a project or task, be crystal clear on the outcomes, when the task/project is due, how you are to be reached for questions (don’t micromanage the project!). Have a few check-in meetings if the project goes over several days or weeks.

  3. Hire people smarter than you. Too often we avoid hiring people that are smarter than you, because you fear they’ll take your job. Hiring smart and talented people makes your business grow, and those people can perform the tasks you “suck at” better than you.

  4. Celebrate your successes often. We finish tasks and projects, and we don’t take any time to celebrate the finishing of your accomplishments. We also don’t spend time reflecting on what went well with the project, and what could be improved. We just march to the next project. There are so many lessons to be learned after finishing tasks and projects, that could make the next task/project more efficient and better.

  5. Let the employees make mistakes. Too often we don’t allow our employees to make mistakes on projects/tasks we used to do. Let them fail. Failure is learning. Guide them where they may have mis-stepped, but continue to encourage them to learn and grow. You’ll have a better employee.

Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

Michael Levitt: The saying is false because if you do everything, you won’t accomplish anything. You will be stuck right where you are in your company. Your company will not grow, nor will it be able to handle any abnormal issues, because you’re too busy working on everything.

Delegating is giving your employees an opportunity to grow the business and their careers. If no one delegated to the leader earlier in their career, they wouldn’t have become a leader.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Michael Levitt: BreakfastLeadership.com or on social media under that @Bfastleadership handle. They can also go to https://BreakfastLeadership.com/tools for free resources to help prevent burnout in their lives.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

Michael Levitt: It was my pleasure to be with you today!

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