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On the Brink with Andi Simon


Jul 24, 2023

Hear how you have a huge say over how and when you work.

I just love the fascinating people I have the pleasure of bringing to you. One of them is Marcey Rader. She first appeared on our podcast in March of 2020 as pandemic lockdowns were just beginning (doesn’t that seem a long time ago?) and I found her insights on wellness and selfcare so important that I had to have her back. What struck me during today’s conversation was how companies need to reexamine the overwhelming workloads and abundance of tasks they’re giving their workers without the resources to do them. Yes, it’s great to have wellness apps, fitness benefits, meditation rooms, and all of that, but in truth, what’s better for employees is not to need them in the first place because they’re not all stressed out. For all who work, listen in!

Watch and listen to our conversation here

For more on rethinking wellness and work, we recommend these 3 podcasts:

Additional resources for you

Read the transcript of our podcast here

Andi Simon: Welcome to On the Brink with Andi Simon. I’m Andi Simon, and I’m here to help you get off the brink. And I love doing that by bringing you great people to hear so that you can see, feel, and think in new ways about yourself, your business, where you’re going, the world around you. Remember, everything is in context.

I learned as an anthropologist many years ago that out of context, data has no meaning. And so now the question is, what is the context of the world we’re living in today? And how is it changing and changing fast? And I often teach in my leadership academies how to adapt to fast-changing times. It’s just the times they’re all moving and you might as well hold on tight. It’s going to be fun.

So today I’ve brought back to hear from Marcey Rader. Now, Marcey was on our podcast back in 2020, and I love talking to her. She opens my mind to all kinds of things. She has a great podcast that you should listen to, and we’ll put her information on the blog when we’re done. But Marcey, thank you for joining me today.

Marcey Rader: I’m so happy to be back, Andi.

Andi Simon: Well, let me tell the listener, or the viewer, about Marcey, and I’m going to read her bio and then let her tell us about her own journey. It makes it come alive better than words can.

So who is Marcey Rader? I believe she says that “health powers productivity” and the answer isn’t work-life balance, but tech-life balance. And I think that’s just a brilliant opening for what we’re going to talk about today. She had a case of high stress, high performance, and corporate burnout which triggered severe health issues in her thirties. It was an early burnout, and she founded RaderCo to rethink and revitalize productivity for leaders, teams and organizations at RaderCo. By the way, they take off Fridays, so don’t try and reach her on Fridays. Our little email comes back and says, “We believe that you need a day for yourself,” and I love it.

She founded Rethink, Revitalize Productivity for Leaders, Teams and Organizations. And she helps the executives and their teams banish burnout. What a great idea! Now keep good people and move forward through coaching, consulting, training, and speaking. And her speaking is centered on practical tailored tools, health, sustainable habits, and accountability. She’s one of only 850 certified speaking professionals worldwide, a certified virtual presenter, and a certified digital wellness practitioner.

I’m going to pause there because while I enjoy reading it, it really is nowhere near as interesting at what’s Marcey’s going to tell you about a post-burnout person who thrives by helping people never burn out, which is a strange thing for us to do. Burn up and burn out. Marcey, thanks. And tell us about your journey. Who is Marcey?

Marcey Rader: Andi, I am celebrating my 10th business anniversary this year. Woohoo! So I am very excited about that because when I came from the pharmaceutical and biotech clinical research industry, and when I started my business, I had no idea what I was doing. I was very naïve, which in some ways is very good. I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to be a spokesperson my second year of business. I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to have this business model that other people hadn’t thought of before. But then, those things turned out to be good. But then there are also, of course, other things, many, many mistakes that I learned, many lessons from along the way.

But the burnout piece is really important to me because I was very young. I was in my mid-thirties. I lived a very high-stress lifestyle. I traveled up to 48 weeks a year for about a decade. I was an athlete and I competed in triathlons, Ironmans, ultra-marathons, and so on. I was very high achieving. Every promotion was not enough. Every step up was not enough. I just kept making the goal higher.

And I triggered, for lack of a better term, a functional menopause for 12 years. It was related to stress and that is not, not, not good when you are 35 years old. And also I have Hashimoto’s disease [autoimmune disorder]. All of these things. And when I look back, those are things that could have been fixed. Those are things that I could have prevented.

And so much of it was about not realizing what I could say no to, or not feeling empowered to say no. And striving for what I look back now to see as the wrong things. And when I’m speaking with, especially with women, but also with men, when I talk, especially when I talk about that every goal I just kept setting higher, they can almost always relate.

Andi Simon: Yes. But, you know, nobody was making you set higher and higher goals, were they?

Marcey Rader: Oh, no, it was all me. And I do think, I emphasize that when I’m working with people, whether as a coach or in training programs, that nobody’s making you do anything. The question is, how do you want to live your life? And how do you take charge of it in a way that feels comfortable?

Andi Simon: That point about not saying no or saying no…No—it’s not a four letter word. And how does it fit into, and remember, we live the story in our mind. So the question is, what story do you want to live? Because nobody’s framing that story. You’ve created it, you believe it to be true. My favorite quote is, “The only truth is there is no truth.” And so once you understand that, you realize, oh, that there’s another way. You discovered another way, and now you’re helping others do the same. Tell us a little bit about that transformation you went through starting a business, figuring it out, and now it’s at a really interesting time. Where is it? 10 years into it, you have really hit your stride.

Marcey Rader: We have. It’s really exciting. We are a combination of speaking, training, and coaching/consulting, and we are productivity focused, but always with health centered around it. So it doesn’t matter how many boxes you check, Andi, if you’re staying up all night to do it, it doesn’t matter how many emails you answer if you’re answering them at dinner with your family, and so it’s always with the health focus, but we have different subject matter experts that we pull in.

So productivity is the umbrella. But we have people, leadership experts, mindfulness, cultures of belonging, communications, presentations. We have these different experts that we can bring in so we can be more of like a one-stop shop. And we’ve worked with companies as small as one person tech companies to Delta Airlines. We have seen many iterations of what works and definitely what doesn’t work, and what we’re about at is 50-50 training and coaching/consulting, and we like that.

I like having that split because like when Covid happened, it worked out very well for us. Our business didn’t suffer at all. We actually had more business than we can handle. That was already a specialty of ours. I’ve worked remotely since 2001. So I’ve been training individuals to work well remotely for about 15 years.

So when the pandemic hit and everybody was going out of their minds, how are we going to do this?, you know. We have so many, so many people that would contact us and say, I don’t know how we found out about you, but we need training tomorrow. And so, that kind of transition as a country that we are shifting into now, we’re kind of figuring out how we work hybrid. How do I work differently at home three days a week and in the office two days a week? And so it is always shifting.

I am never what our director of marketing…she started with us a couple years ago and is very new to all of this…and she said, “Every time I feel like, oh, you know, we can kind of cruise, then something changes.” There’s not a lot of cruising. There’s always going to be change.

Andi Simon: Well, and her point about we’re going to cruise, not with Marcey anyway, maybe not the company. But if you have a fixed mindset, you’re in the wrong place. This is a time for growth. In fact, your job is to bring innovative ideas in, because people need them and you need them as well.

But the interesting part is that we have a good relationship with Washington University. We were out there last weekend for a reunion, and the athletic director and his team were very concerned about their athletes competing to see how little sleep they could get. And he started then putting them into meditation, yoga. And we have a room that we have dedicated in the athletic facility for study, and turned it into a wellness center. And he said, “You have to start early because their whole value is on an unrealistic life where it’s not good for their athletics or their academics.” But when he said that, I went, “Man, I didn’t imagine that it goes right down into elementary school where the ability to balance the different demands on us are trained.”

But this is interesting for people in business. You know, you and I both work among very successful business folks who can’t quite figure out how to balance all of the options that they have in their day so that it is a doable day. And, the number of young people when they faced the pandemic, asked the big question, If you only live once, how do I want to live it? And they have now started to draw a line among companies to say, No, I’ll only work with you if… And they’re not quite sure what the if is, but they know that it isn’t what it was. You know: “I drive to work, I spend an hour in the car, I work eight, nine hours, I drive home an hour in the car, and I’m supposed to have a life.”

And I have one client whose employees all said, “Nope, we’re perfectly happy working anywhere and we’ll be very efficient.” So now we have an interesting time of rethinking what comes next? What do you see coming next? Because you are out there watching, talking, and helping them really design the future. And someone once said, the future is here already, it’s just not widely distributed, and you’re trying to distribute it. What do you see?

Marcey Rader: Well, first I just have to comment that that makes me very sad that they’re wearing that sleep badge, that lack of sleep badge so young. I wore it as well. But, I’m hoping that it’s becoming less and less of a thing, that wearing that badge that I get such little sleep, but also, I work x amount of hours and bragging about that. I work 60 hours, 70 hours a week. I used to do that too. It’s not anything to brag about anymore.

What I see is that more people looking for jobs are going to be looking at companies that don’t have an “always on” culture. Because as you said in the intro, it’s really not work-life balance. It’s like a teeter-totter work and personal life, and your work is part of your life. So I don’t really like that term.

It’s really when people say they want more work-life balance, a lot of times they’re talking about tech-life balance. And because it’s our technology that is infiltrating our personal lives, it’s that we’re getting emails at night from our boss or our team members. We’re getting pinged on the weekends, and we have this always-on culture. And part of that came from Covid, you know, and it wasn’t our fault. A lot of companies didn’t know how to work remotely. They were thrown into it without policies. There were parents that were just working whenever they could, when their kids were asleep or when they had two hours of babysitting a day. It was just people working whenever they could.

And, you know, it’s hard to untrain yourself from bad habits. And we’ve gotten into really bad habits as a culture. And so these companies that have this always-on culture, what they don’t realize is that it creates micro-stresses for their employees. And these micro-stresses build up over time. And even if you are a boss and you say, “If I send you an email at night, I don’t expect you to answer it,” that doesn’t matter if you are in a position of hierarchy, most people will feel compelled to at least check.

And there’s actually a stress called anticipatory stress. And when people are just expecting, “Maybe I’ll get an email,” they’re anticipating that stress. And what we’ve recently learned is that anticipatory stress actually filters into your family. So it’s this digital wellness, which is kind of a new term, but not in my world, but for companies to think about investing in a digitally well culture.

And actually, I’m certified by the Digital Wellness Institute and I’m one of the few practitioners that have partnered with them in their digitally well workplace certification. I mean, there’s actually certification now. And what I am promoting to the companies that I work with is that you could be one of the first to be a digitally well workplace. And while it may seem like it doesn’t matter as much now, a few years from now, it’s going to matter a lot because it’s going to be one of those things that employees look at, just like when they look at the B Corp symbol or things like that. Is this company that I’m going to invest part of my life in, do they care? Do they really care about how things are for me outside of work hours?

Andi Simon: You know, to some degree, the companies themselves should be talking and working with those employees to create a company for the future, because nobody really knows. The youngsters are trying to devise something that makes some sense. But you have so many variables coming in and the elders have been there a long time. The habits are the way we do things.

Every time I get hired to help a company change, we start with, “Well, no, that’s the way we do things. That’s the way it’s done.” I say, “I know, but it’s not working anymore.” “But I don’t know what will work.” And I say, “That is the interesting question. It’s a time for exploring, experimenting, collaborating, going out and seeing what others are doing that might work. But most of all, think about the customer and the employee as if they’re collaborators in co-creating the work of the future.”

It’s no longer, “I make it, you buy it.” It’s no longer, “You work here. I’ll tell you what to do.” Everything that we did is gone. If not in your company, it should be, because now the collaboration will create really rich possibilities.

I did some work with one fellow and his head of sales said, “Well, I got three phone calls from folks who wanted things that we don’t do.” I said, “So what did you do?” He said that he said, “Well, we don’t do that.” I said, “Well, they are looking for a solution. Can you help them?” You can be a general contractor. There are all kinds of opportunities for folks who are saying, “I need this, who can help me?” It’s not, you make this, I’ll buy it. Change the mind. Remember the words we use: change the worlds we live in and now it’s fine.

I love the digital bot, ChatGPT. I can’t tell you how many folks say, “Oh, I’m not going to use that.” I said, “Oh, yes, you are. Because it’s absolutely fascinating.” And then I did a bunch of podcasts on blockchain. And one of the women in my book has created a whole blockchain company for the supply chain. And a city in Switzerland is completely on blockchain. What are we fighting? It’s so fascinating. Now, are there any cases you could suggest to the audience that might illustrate what you’re seeing? I sometimes like to make the abstract a little concrete.

Marcey Rader: For ChatGPT or digital wellness?

Andi Simon: Digital wellness.

Marcey Rader: Wellness. Just one correction: at RaderCo, we do work on Fridays. We just don’t do email! We also have No Task Fridays. And the reason why, Fridays are used to finish up what we’re doing so that we can go into the weekend and not be given something to do as we go in. And so we might be finishing up tasks, but we’re not assigning them to each other.

Andi Simon: Pause for a second because you just defined a workplace of the future. I asked you for an illustrative case, but that’s as good as any that you can share. Now you’ve done this by design.

Marcey Rader: Yes. And it was an experiment. I believe we tried something else first. What we settled on was that we liked Fridays to catch up. I’ve not lost any business. On a Friday, nobody’s getting dumped on because it’s actually called, there’s a name, it’s called the Friday Dump when somebody sends somebody something on a Friday afternoon. And even if it’s not due til the next week, it’s that anticipatory stress. It’s that knowing like, now I have this coming up.

And you know, we have a very detailed out- of-office that we started on Thursday at five o’clock or whatever. And it’s fun, but it gives everybody a link to our manifesto, which is an email manifesto to let people know how we communicate. And for companies that feel very, and I know this is not for all companies, like if you’re a pest control company and people are trying to reach you to remove their pests, I’m not saying this works for you. It could work for some roles within your company, but you know, so much of it is communication expectations. And so that people aren’t caught off guard.

And if people know, like when somebody signs up with us and they get the contract and they get their first email from us, their next steps, it says at the bottom, “This is how we communicate. Here’s the link to our manifesto. Here’s how you communicate with us, in case of an urgent matter, and so on.” And as long as you communicate that to your vendors, your clients, your customers, there’s no problem. We’ve never had anything but envy or happiness for us. And, we’ve had companies that are starting to consider or shift into No Meeting Fridays or no emails after 1:00pm on Fridays. You know, people are just taking steps. But then, the easiest solution is, if you do work off hours, just schedule your emails to send later.

Andi Simon: Well, and now, so there are tools you can use, schedule those emails to go later. There’s a mindset that says, there’s not work and life. It’s a balance. And you are in charge.

If you can take that expectation management is really fascinating. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “My expectation is that I’m going to work really hard for four days, then on Friday, I’m going to get reorganized, get everything into place so that I can relax and my weekends are mine.

I had a great editor who simply said, “No, I don’t do anything on the weekends for the publication because it’s my time with my family. Mm-hmm. And I said, interesting. Now I’ve been a consultant for 22 years, I’ve been in my own business. And over the years, the creep on Friday became onerous. And in recent years I’ve just made Fridays by and large my day. Anything that I want to do for myself, I try to do that on Friday, that doesn’t mean I can’t do it other times.

I put 3 million miles in my body, so I needed a little bit of my time. And I urge people who are in the consulting business, you’d be amazed how other people begin to say, that’s a good idea. I can have my time also. And, it becomes…the pandemic did something very interesting. My husband and I both traveled a great deal for business and then we would travel for vacations every 90 days. We took a trip, the pandemic brought us together. We didn’t travel, and we went. This was fun. Now how do we get it done with a little time anyhow, because you can work all the time.

Marcey, I could talk to you all day because I think that you’re on the brink of something quite transformative for our audience. Give them two or three things you don’t want them to forget. Often the listener remembers the end even better than the beginning. We’ve talked about so many really important things about the future, both of your life and work, some things you don’t want them to forget now.

Marcey Rader: What you said was very important about we choose to have the life that we want to live. And yes, while I agree with that, it’s up to you. If you are the one checking your email at night, that’s on you. And on the weekends, that’s on you. However, I also go back to, if you are a leader and you’re sending those at night and they know you are, then you’re still creating that culture of anticipatory stress. And so it goes both ways.

We are the owner of our time, but we also as leaders have to be considerate of that. Something else that I want people or companies to rethink is the benefits they give for self-care. The wellness apps, the fitness benefits, the meditation rooms, all of those things. I think they are wonderful. I commend companies that are doing it. However, it puts the responsibility on the person to fix the reasons why they need these things in the first place.

If companies would look upstream at the overwhelming workloads, or the abundance of tasks that they’re giving people without the resources to do them, they wouldn’t need all of those apps and benefits downstream. And so while self-care is our responsibility to take that time, just like going back to the communication after hours, it is also the responsibility of the company to determine why we need it so much.

Andi Simon: This isn’t going to get easier. It’s going to get more complicated. And because the companies are looking for role models among other companies, they’re mimics and they imitate each other. And unless so-and-so is doing it, well that can’t be a good idea. So now we’ve got to find those who maybe they are the companies of purpose who really begin to see this as a bigger opportunity. Or maybe they’re good companies that see the benefits for themselves and others.

I think this is going to be the next few years that are going to be transformative in ways that I hope lead us to a better, healthier life. The last thing you want to do is find yourself back in a feudal society and sometimes I get this kind of weird thing that it feels that way. This is always so much fun. Where can I reach you? What kind of stuff do you do for folks?

Marcey Rader: We are at helloraderco.com and we work with all size businesses, from speaking to keynotes, conferences, but also training. And our three most popular trainings, one is around email, one is around focus and attention, and another one is around time. And it’s not really managing your time, it’s using your time effectively and your attention effectively. They go together. Managing your time and attention go together. And then we also do the coaching and consulting piece around that.

Andi Simon: This is such fun. Thank you for joining me today. It’s always a pleasure to see you. This is virtual or real, I’m not sure, but it’s delicious. Thank you again. It’s fun for our listeners. Remember, our job is to help you get off the brink and soar and so On The Brink with Andi Simon is my way of sharing wonderful people who I’ve met. People say, you haven’t monetized your podcast? I say, no, I’ve joyfully shared great people so that you can see, feel, and think in new ways, which is really what I hope you have seen today.

Remember, we decide with the eyes and the heart. And today has felt all about feeling a life that’s worth living, that you can create with the tools to do it. Remember, every day is very long and every year flies by. And so take care, be careful.

My books are available on Amazon. They’re here to help you. My new book comes out in September. It’s called Women Mean Business. You can pre-order it on Amazon, which I hope you will do. Amazon loves pre-orders and you can even order a bunch of them there to share. Women Mean Business has 102 women in it, all of whom want you to see their wisdom, understand it. And one that I loved is, “You don’t have to believe everything you’re thinking.” Another one is, “Your network of course is your net worth,” and then one that I just love is that what you see is, you can create this hope. There’s really powerful women in there who are ready to help you become the woman you always wanted to be. Like Marcey. I think this is such fun. I’m going to wish you all a good day. Please stay safe. Stay healthy, and enjoy life. Bye-bye now.