You can never ful­ly con­vince someo­ne he is wrong, only rea­li­ty can” - Nas­sim Nic­ho­las Taleb

The ico­noclast aut­hors words ring eeri­ly true for most of us, who never seem to rea­li­se our own mor­ta­li­ty in the face of an ever inc­rea­sing amount of stress and workload.

Des­pi­te light war­nings and hints from (some) of my own inves­tors regar­ding my pace and lack of reco­ve­ry, I simply frow­ned and replied that I could take the heat. In my mind, only losers burnt out. 

I kept flying towards the sun with the con­fi­dence of Ica­rus, ful­ly con­vinced of my own invinci­bi­li­ty. Until I was not. 

Hemingway’s quo­te of how to end up in bank­ruptcy rang fami­liar. My per­so­nal demi­se had occur­red “gra­dual­ly, then suddenly.”

When bur­nout stri­kes, the war­ning signs can be subt­le. For my part it was hig­her blood pres­su­re and slee­ping problems. The day it final­ly hit me, chan­ged my life forever. 

Since that fate­ful day in May 2017 when I expe­rienced seve­re pain in my lower abdo­men and back com­bi­ned with a crippling anxie­ty I have left my com­pa­ny and spent almost 1,5 years in reco­ve­ry. The total time in pain and anxie­ty has been around 2,5 years. 

Is it pos­sible to take pre-emp­ti­ve measures?

As sta­ted qui­te bleakly in the begin­ning of this article it is dif­ficult, most­ly because of many foun­ders’ strong belief in their own invinci­bi­li­ty. For most, rea­li­ty will wake them up.

Howe­ver, I strongly belie­ve that it is not neces­sa­ry to repress fee­lings of pas­sion and dri­ve in order to stay away from bur­nout, but rat­her build “cus­hio­ning” around eve­ry­day life. Even small things will aggre­ga­te to great bene­fits over time. 

So what are the things one can do to build a robust defence to stress and pas­sio­na­te drive?

1. Medi­ta­tion - a prac­tice of medi­ta­tion has so many bene­fits it is almost inc­re­dible this is not recom­men­ded to all foun­ders. It is one of the most power­ful stress reducers whi­le at the same time brin­ging much cla­ri­ty to thin­king. Stay in bed eve­ry mor­ning for a 5-20 min medi­ta­tion befo­re doing anyt­hing else. Give your body a plea­sant wake up.

2. Do not bring your mobi­le to your bedroom - the mobi­le pho­ne is one of the worst things that has ente­red our lives in terms of sleep, if not the worst. The stress of noti­fica­tions, mail and blue light is a great destro­yer of res­to­ra­ti­ve sleep. Lea­ve your mobi­le out­si­de and never let it in. If you are concer­ned with waking up, buy a regu­lar alarm clock. 

3. Focus on good sleep. Accor­ding to Matt­hew Wal­ker (aut­hor of the bril­liant book Why we sleep, get it now) sleep is so power­ful it is actual­ly remar­kable how living orga­nisms ever woke up. It is the grea­test super­power we humans can have. It’s effects on health are just ridiculous. 

So, if you want to head straight to a bur­nout, plea­se avoid the tips abo­ve, otherwi­se, take care of your­self. This will lea­ve your inves­tors, clients, wife, girlfriend, dog, cat and abo­ve all your­self, much much much happier. 

Tomi Kau­ki­nen - Key­no­te spea­ker, serial ent­repre­neur, bur­nout sur­vi­vor - Licence to Fail  (

Gorilla Capital Management Oy

VAT 2827907-4

Maria 01, Building 1, entrance B
Lapinlahdenkatu 16, 00180 Helsinki


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