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How to Avoid Burnout & Leading up as a CoS

How to Avoid Burnout & Leading up as a CoS

How to Avoid Burnout & Leading up as a CoS panel during the Chief of Staff summit.


-Stella Treas Chief of Staff at GitLab

-Dan Katz Fmr Chief of Staff to Arianna Huffington

Note: please see the following summary of the core ideas from this conversation at the Summit. We did our best to clarify the ideas for you. Please refer to the video for specific details, ideas, and context.

Dealing with burnout

Stella: something that's been really important for me is just being proactive and looking for help…. Having conversations with my partner around like how we're going to lean in and support each other, we got a nanny to help and lean in… And then being a lot more proactive and communication with my boss, which is something you should always do…. 

I have a personal board of people who kind of hold me accountable.

Stella: one thing I found is how you experience burnout is very personal to you.

On growing a startup while not burning out 

Dan: We began to build really intentionally a culture that was about going out and conquering and then coming back and recharging constantly.

So that was key, then the other part was really getting down to specific policies…. [When hiring] we'd say, Stella, what's the most important thing to you? Or what are the things that are non negotiable? It may be taking your kids to school in the morning, for me, it was I really wanted to make sure I was at the gym before eight o'clock three days a week. And then I also had a guitar lesson on this day, and then your boss, it's their job to make sure that they are protecting that. 

On how to work remote

Stella: We've put checks in place like Family and Friends day where folks once a month are supposed to shut down and not go online. 

One thing that I love about the CEO of GitLab is he shares his calendar and for about five weeks of the year, he is gone. And he is very live-communicating with it and setting that precedent.

One thing that I love about GitLab is we actively discourage people from thanking other people from working long hours. 
I think that if you're very intentional about formal relationships, you can continue to build that and that community is so key for folks feeling like that people can talk to you and have those outlets that at least I find a really critical for preventing burnout. 

How to move yourself past burnout

Dan: I think you have to a lot of times, you have to change your environment.

In terms of really going from awareness to action is this concept of micro steps of very small things. Because it's the concept of we'll pick one little thing that you want to work on, and then build from there.

Leading up

Dan: you are a leader as a chief of staff, but it's a different sort of leadership. And I think we have to acknowledge that and study it.


Dan: Asana just came out with the study 13,000 knowledge workers 71% of knowledge workers right now have experienced burnout in the last 12 months. 

Dan: How do we how do we make this role not a burnout role because I think it may be designed as one

Resources mentioned:

-Anne Helen Petersen article

-Michael Useem book

-BJ Fogg book

-David Gergen book

Link to source ↗