Abundant Accountant | Randy Crabtree | How To End Burnout

 

Like a flickering flame left unchecked, burnout will become rogue and rage out of control until it consumes you entirely. It is the flames that will lead you into the abyss of exhaustion. In this episode, Randy Crabtree, the co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, equips us with insights to learn how to end burnout. Burnout comes from trying to outwork our work, and Randy explains some steps to change and reverse that chronic stress our brain experiences. He also shares how working less can help avoid burnout and increase profitability. You don’t have to face that battle with burnout alone. Join Randy and extinguish the raging flames of burnout in today’s conversation.


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Extinguishing Exhaustion: Learn How To End Burnout With Randy Crabtree

We have a very special guest. Our special guest is the Cofounder and Partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals and is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession. Since 2019, he’s hosted a biweekly podcast called The Unique CPA podcast, which ranks among the world’s top 5% most popular programs from the source Listen Score. You can find articles from our special guest in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Advisor and many more publications. He is also a regular presenter at conferences and trainings around the country and also the CPA societies and other industry associations.

Before we welcome our special guest to the show, if you’re an accounting, tax or bookkeeping firm owner and you want to double your revenue, but you’re still trying things like getting more clients or you keep sending out quotes and proposals, hoping you get responses from your clients or you’re negotiating or discounting your fees and pricing based on whatever your competitors are charging, then I imagine that you are suffering through every single tax season every single year. Even worse, maybe you’re simply working way too many hours and on the verge of burnout, which we are going to talk about right here in this episode.

You need to stop all of that right now. It doesn’t work and it’s going to leave you completely burnt out with an empty bank account and making enough money to get by, almost feeling like you’re living paycheck to paycheck. The simple fact is the clients that I work with use a proven system, a step-by-step process to raise their fees, double their firm revenue, get paid first and upfront and have no accounts receivable while working less hours and spending time with their family and their kids. They are not working late at night. If you want me to show you exactly how to do this, go to TheAbundantCall.com right now and book your call with me and my team. Now let’s welcome our special guest, Randy Crabtree, to the show.

Welcome, Randy, to the show.

Thanks for having me, Michelle. I’m looking forward to this.

Thank you so much for being here with us on the show. For those that don’t know you, Randy, I know I have your intro completed, but I’d love it if you could share with everyone who you are and what you do in about 30 seconds or less so it’s directly from you.

Sure. 30 seconds. You’ve heard me talk. You know I can’t do that.

We’re going to talk about a very important topic that I can personally relate to and I can share a little bit about that. This is all about you and helping these firm owners not only increase revenue and profitability from eliminating and reducing burnout, because I know people are burnt out. I hear about it all the time, but who are you? What do you do? Why are you here?

I’m a CPA. I actually was managing partner of a generalist firm, I would call it, in the Chicago suburbs for many years. I sold that and started a firm Tri-Merit. We are a specialty tax firm. We support accountants all over the country by allowing them to bring tax credits and incentive opportunities to their clients. It’s been a fun ride. We’re listed as the 1,833rd fastest-growing privately held company in the US by Inc. Magazine. I’m very proud of the people that I work with and what we’ve done. That’s what I do. In addition, I host a podcast called The Unique CPA podcast where we talk a lot about ways that we can be better as a profession.

I can’t wait to be on your podcast.

We’ll get it done.

We are talking about burnout. I know burnout is a thing. Before we even dive into burnout, what is burnout, Randy?

It’s funny, everywhere I look at burnout, I get the same exact definition. It’s pretty easy to explain. Burnout is related to stress. Stress, in general, is not a terrible thing. You and I were together in Seattle at a conference and I think I might have used this as an example at that at the conference. I got asked to do the keynote presentation and I found out about two hours before I was going to give that and stress kicked in and it caused me to act. I got things ready and I got all things prepared. Two hours later, we’re ready to go. That stress by itself is not bad. When we look at stress, as long as we can control the stress, it’s not bad.

Uncontrolled stress is where the issue comes in for us, for our profession specifically, but all over the board. Chronic stress is where burnout kicks in. Basically, there are three different aspects to burnout. One, because of all this chronic, non-top stress, we start to feel tired and exhausted and our energy is depleted. There are three aspects to it. Two, we start to feel negative. We’re being cynical like, “I can’t believe I have to do this again. I got to spend another four hours on this. I can’t do this. I can’t do that.: You start getting negative, and not enjoying what you’re doing.

Also, aggressive. I think a lot of people get angry, which leads to aggression and being infuriated with themselves, with their clients, and totally annoyed from their clients. They become dismissive, overall.

I would say that you can add that to signs that burnout is kicking in as well. The final thing is efficiency goes down because we’re tired, exhausted and cynical. Our efficiency goes down, but our workload doesn’t go down. What do we do? We start to work longer. We come in earlier, we leave later, we work weekends. We’re on 24/7. That snowballs because we’re already in this burnout situation. Now to try to fix it, to get out of it, we try to work longer and it doesn’t work. We keep rolling down the hill and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. That’s the thing that we need to figure out ways to control.

That’s the big one we’re going to talk about because having this uncontrolled stress is what we’re talking about. The good stress is okay, but when it’s out of control, it turns into overwhelm and then we get tired and then we become unfocused and we become sleepy. We then go to coffee, caffeine and other things and then become this workaholic, working longer, working weekends.

Personally, I know exactly where that was in my life, in my previous career before this and I said, “Never again.” Randy, what are the three ways a firm owner can manage this uncontrolled stress? What are some things that we can implement and how do we turn this around to increase profitability? I don’t know about you, Randy, but I couldn’t take naps.

I felt guilty taking a nap. I felt like I had to be working or my inbox would start piling up. Let me tell you, I took like 4 naps in 1 week. I felt great. I didn’t feel guilty anymore. None of that stuff. I don’t even know how many years now I’ve been actually in the working field, probably 20 or 30 or something like that. Up until now, I had a real challenge with this whole nap thing. My boyfriend, on the other hand, he naps when my dog maps. They both nap every day at the same time like clockwork. It’s part of the routine. I couldn’t do it. Now and on the weekends, I am a napping queen.

Look at you. You’ve learned to control this.

I’ve learned to control it. What are some steps? Obviously, we like actionable things that we can do here. What can we do to manage the burnout? What have you seen work for others that you’ve also worked with and shared all of this knowledge with?

There are quite a few things we can do. Before I even say that, one of the things why we need to control this and we’ll talk about this because that to-do list I was talking about, that uncontrolled trying to outwork our work, trying to outwork our to-do list, what that does is that chronic stress actually changes our brain. Physically, it can change our brain and chemically change the makeup of our brain.

Chronic stress changes our brains physically and chemically changes the makeup of our brains. Share on X

If we think if we can get through the next five months and work like crazy, then we’re going to be fine, no, you’re making changes. I’m no medical professional, but from what I understand that it’s not permanent. If we start to implement these changes, then we can reverse that. Here are some things and I’ve got more than three, but we can go with the big three or we can start with little ones. It’s your call.

You choose what you feel would be the most impactful. I think a lot of people here are feeling burnt out, frustrated with clients, infuriated, annoyed and having this tax season gloom every single year. They’re becoming dismissive and want to curl up in like a little ball and hibernate and not see anybody and isolate. After all that, then you feel abandoned and all these other things that happen and be lonely. We don’t want that. You choose if it’s 3, if it’s 5, I don’t care. Whatever we need to do to get the job done, that’s what we’re doing here.

Let’s start easy because if we start deep, people might shut down like, “I can’t do that.” What I mentioned about your brain needing rest, your brain needs to take a vacation occasionally and not just at the evening when we try to sleep, because when we’re in this burnout, we’re not sleeping well either. Little changes give your brain a rest that you are going to see productivity go up if you shut down for a little bit.

Take A Break

Simple things that I do and simple things people can start with, and it may sound counterintuitive to some people and it’s not, is you have to take breaks during the day. You can’t be at your desk for twelve straight hours. On my calendar, I have listed 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, go for a walk with my wife. It’s on there. I’m not always at home. When I am, we do this. It’s fifteen minutes. We both work from home when we’re in town and we get away from the desk and we go for a walk around the park. It’s six-tenths of a mile. We get back and we get back to work.

That little rest for your brain makes a big difference. That’s a little thing. Don’t eat at your desk. Even if you sit in the corner of the room away from your desk, get away. Let your mind relax. Do some meditation, which I’m not good at and I want to do more because everybody that I talk to that does it swears about the rejuvenating effect that meditation has on their brain. Those are some little things.

Abundant Accountant | Randy Crabtree | How To End Burnout

How To End Burnout: That little rest for your brain makes a big difference.

 

Try to implement one. Go sit in the corner and take four deep breaths or something. Something little just to get yourself a little bit of a change in your routine. Don’t be afraid of these. That’s going to take you too much time. You’re not going to be able to implement. Some of the things you can do is manage your time better.

What we do is we’re often so reactive. Client calls, we have to answer it. We get a text, we have to answer it. All of those distractions and I can’t remember the percentage, but it takes you fifteen minutes to get back on track to what you were doing before. Now you lost productivity. You lost productivity, you’re losing profitability.

By managing your time, I think you can work less hours overall as a firm, bill at least the same amount and show profitability goes up. I have a friend, Courtney Durand. Courtney’s managing partner of a firm in Iowa. I’ve been very lucky to talk to Courtney a handful of times. What Courtney was doing, she was looking at the crazy hours she was putting in during tax season, specifically tax season, but all year round.

How many was she working?

I think she was 70-plus, which a lot of people might not think that’s crazy. To me, that’s crazy.

I can barely work six hours a day.

When I had my generalist firm, before we started Tri-Merit, my tax seasons felt like 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was insanity. One reason I sold my firm was because I did not manage my time well. What Courtney did when she saw this, she didn’t like it. She wasn’t happy. She was away from her family too much.

She was bitter or mad or was she more depressed or feeling guilty she wasn’t around her family?

I assume. This is me putting words in her mouth, but I think it was more the guilt part that I’m gone too long. She hasn’t specifically told me that but that’s how I would’ve felt. That’s how I felt.

I think a lot of people reading right now feel guilty. We feel guilty because we’re at work all the time. We’re not at home seeing our kids. We’re not having dinner with the family. We’re always go, go, go like, “It’s only going to be this year. I’m not going to do the same again next year.” Next year rolls around and nothing changes. We start to feel ashamed and we feel completely empty. This burnout starts to take a toll.

What we do and what we plan to do are completely different. We go through that and we say, “I’m not going to do this again this year. I’m going to become efficient this year. I’m going to automate more this year. I’m going to change my processes.” The end of the year comes and we haven’t done it. We think, “One more year of going through this and then I’ll be fine.”

I’ll get back to Courtney here in a second. What I found talking to people is the way our brains work is we have so much fear of change, so much fear of the what perceived time we’re going to have to spend on making a change that we completely ignore the benefit of making these changes. It is this overwhelming, “I don’t want to make this change today. I’m going to keep putting it off,” and then we never do it. We could spend twenty hours implementing, let’s say, some new technology into our practice. It’s going to save us, let’s say, 200 hours next year but we don’t do it because we don’t want to spend those 20 hours. That’s one thing mindset-wise, we have to get over it. Automation in general is a thing that can increase our profitability so much, allowing us to work less and get more done at the same time.

What happened with Courtney?

Back to the Courtney story. Courtney started doing this herself. She started following Michael Hyatt, I think it’s called Free to Focus System. It’s basically finding the times of day where you have the most energy, where you can get the most work done. What she’s done is blocked off certain hours each day. I think hers is like 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM until noon. She blocks that off for these high-brain power function projects she has to get done. Blocking it off means there is zero email, zero phone calls, zero texts and zero distractions. Everything’s turned off.

Everybody knows this is the time that Courtney can’t be gotten a hold of. She works on these projects that need to be done that day or that week. The other thing she’s done and when she’s looking at her projects, she doesn’t have this 500-to-do list project list. She breaks it down into, “What are the three most important things I need to do now?”

What are the most important things I need to do this week? What are the most important things I do this month? Anything else that’s after that is not that important or she delegates that to someone else who maybe enjoys that other project that she doesn’t have a chance to get to. She does this. She concentrates, she blocks off the time she works on these important projects.

Come noon, she takes a break. In the afternoon, she’s returning emails, getting on Teams calls, returning messages, having meetings, doing billing and doing these things that she can go through the motions more with rather than concentrating on. I’m simplifying this. You can actually go on YouTube and Courtney has some videos where she talks about this.

What she did the first year, I think she actually got down to 55 hours a week during tax season. She then implemented this for the entire firm. She was like, “This is working for me personally. We need the firm to start doing this.” I think the first year was maybe around 55 hours for the firm in general as well. The next year, they keep getting more efficient. They got down to 50 hours a week on average per person during tax season. This 2023 tax season, 45 hours was the max anybody could work.

By doing that, they reduced the time. They avoided burnout. People were not going crazy. People were not waking up in the middle of the night thinking what I was working on, because they had this to-do list that they knew they were going to be able to look at the next day. I talked to her. They didn’t quite make the 45, but they were just over. They did a good job of billing at least the same and in reality, more than they did at 55 and 60 hours a week and put in less hours.

How much did the revenue increase and the bottom-line increase?

The bottom line definitely increased the numbers of revenue. The bottom line is that this was not a, “Let’s work less. Let’s in increase profitability.” That’s what they did because they got more important workout, higher-value workout by concentrating on it. The bottom line went up, the top line also went up. From a Courtney’s standpoint, it’s been a huge success. She’s out talking about this a lot. I have another friend of mine, Jeremy Clapton, who has done the same thing. He’ll be out there and talk about it. The most important thing to me though, is that I work less and avoid burnout. It is I became a lot more profitable in the process.

Work less to avoid burnout and be more profitable in the process. Share on X

That’s what everyone wants. We want to make more money and we want to work less. I think the key thing that I heard you say is the perceived time it takes to make these changes versus the actual amount of time you save by implementing it and blocking out the calendar and doing, like Courtney did, the 8 to 12 block for the high brain power stuff because that’s when she focused most and then did emails and team calls in the afternoon. Also, implementing the things that you talked about. Sit in a corner and go breathe 4 deep breaths every few hours or every 20 minutes if you’re doing the Pomodoro or implementing meditation into your day. Don’t eat lunch at your desk.

I am all about the walks. I take my dog on a walk. Even though it’s a little scorching hot right now, we don’t do the lunchtime one, but morning and night, it’s like, how do you get up? Now we have lunch together. I know it sounds strange. Mila and I have lunch together. We both eat. I’m not on my computer. We take a break. Now when she takes a nap, I even sometimes take it. It’s crazy.

This is like a whole new Michelle. The perceived things I’m going to miss out on, that constantly played in my head or I think what Courtney and the team that she had and I’m sure you’ve heard this from other firm owners, the waking up at night, thinking about all the things you have to do the next day. That is not good for the subconscious mind and for your sleep and having that brain rest.

That’s a great transition to the next thing. I was going to say you set this up perfectly. You’re like a professional.

I would like to say I am, but go for it.

Learn To Disconnect From Work

Another technique that we can implement into our lives to make ourselves fresher when we’re at the office is learning how to disconnect from work at the end of the day. That’s an extremely important thing because the way things are right now, it is so easy to be on 24/7. You have your work at your fingertips on your phone and we are typically very reactive to things because we, as a profession, want to help. We always wanted to be there. We have the answers. We have solutions. We need to figure out how we can turn off at the end of the day. Another friend of mine, Brian Kush, has gone through this with me. We did a webinar on it. I had him on my podcast talking about the same podcast you’re going to be on. I had him on the podcast talking about it.

Why do you disconnect?

This is Brian’s method and this is what I try to do. There’s a three-step process. At the end of the day, what you need to do is bookmark your work, meaning tell your morning self what your evening self was working on where you left off so that you can train your brain to stop thinking about it. I don’t have to think about where it was.

Abundant Accountant | Randy Crabtree | How To End Burnout

How To End Burnout: Train your brain to stop thinking about work.

 

Do you say it out loud? Do you write it down? Do you send yourself an email? What does that look like?

You have to figure out what’s best for you. For me, it would be having a Word document that’s sitting on the computer, type on the notes of, “Here’s where I am. This is what I’m doing. This is the next step.” Be consistent. Don’t have it as a voice message. Don’t have Siri do it. Don’t have an email and a text message and all these at different places because then your brain starts to think, “Where did I send that? Where did I put that note?” Use the same methodology each time. For me, it’s Word documents on my computer. Here’s what I’m working on. We’re training our brains. Your brain is very trainable. You can do this, but it takes some time.

You got to coach your brain.

I got to use that coach. Thank you.

You have to coach your brain. I coach my clients to make more money and make these changes and hold their hand. We have to be our own coach for our own brain or you need to go get a brain coach. They have those.

Get A Brain Coach

That’s where I fell in. I had to go get a brain coach at one time when it wasn’t a technical coach. I had to go to a therapist because of mental issues that I was starting to deal with from all the stress at work and outside of work stresses. That’s why I’m so passionate about this now because I don’t want people to go down the path that I did. I’m luckily very far removed from any of that now.

Back to Brian. The second thing is you’ve now bookmarked your work. Now what do we do? We have to come up with what he calls an instead of plan. Instead of leaving the office, whether it’s at home or at an office and going home and thinking about work, I’m going to tell myself, “Instead of work tonight, I’m going to read a book. I’m going to go to a movie. I’m going to go work out. I’m going to do a woodworking project.”

Come up with a plan of something you’re going to do when you leave the office so that you can train your brain it’s not work anymore. It’s this instead of thing. The last is I think what you asked before. It’s a mental and a physical shutdown. At the end of the day, close your computer, physical. At the end of the day, meditate. Say a prayer, do some jumping jacks, do some pushups, do something both mental and physical. At the end of the day, again, getting into this mode of training your brain, coaching your brain to shut down. By doing this, what you mentioned before, you’re not going to wake up at 3:00 in the morning thinking, “What am I working on? What’s happening? What do I need to do tomorrow? Don’t forget that project. I forgot about that project.”

You know you’ve set things up like, “Yes, I know what I’m going to do tomorrow. I don’t have to worry about work tonight. I don’t have to look at my emails at 8:00 at night. I don’t have to respond to emails at 10:00 at night.” When you do that, you set such a bad example for the people you’re working with and then do the physical and mental shutdown.

I think it’s like you not only have to coach yourself, but you have to train yourself to transition. It’s almost like, “What is that thing that has you feel content that has nothing to do with work or what is that thing that has you be more of in a playful mood or in a peaceful mood that has nothing to do with work?” As you said, reading a book or doing a woodworking project or for me, it was getting a dog. That’ll change things that quickly. She doesn’t let you work. She starts barking and gnawing at you like, “It’s 5:00. It’s time to play with me.”

If you don’t have a little puppy trying to get your attention, then you have to create that. We have to transition into that part of our day. Maybe it’s your kids. You play games with them. You help them do their homework, but it’s, like you said, that mental and physical shutdown. What do you do personally? How do you make that transition?

The biggest thing that I was a culprit of doing is looking at the phone, looking at the emails, and looking at the team’s messages at all hours of the day. In order to do my shutdown, turn the computer off, but my instead of plan also includes, instead of work, I have to concentrate on the I’m not going to look at my phone. I’m not going to look at my emails. I’m not going to send messages out at 10:00 at night. The biggest thing for me is training myself to realize I’m not going to pay attention to work after 5:00. In reality, for me, it’s after 3:30 when I’m at home. That’s when I stop, when I shut everything down.

Mine’s about 4:30, 5:00, but I don’t get a good start to working anything until 10:30 or 11:00.

I’m not obviously perfect at all this stuff. I’m on the road a lot and it’s a little harder when you’re on the road but I have to change the routine because when I’m on the road, I’m hanging out with people and having such a good time.

That’s your instead of plan. “Instead of working, I’m going to go have a cocktail. I’m going to go to a baseball game.” You’re doing other things. It looks different when you’re not at home. I’m loving all this. I think you said you had three big ones. To recap, the first one again was to manage your time better. The second one was learning how to disconnect from work. What is the third one?

Pay Attention To Corporate Culture

There are more, but my third most favorite is your company’s culture is one of the most important things that I think often gets ignored because we’re so motivated by the billable hour. We have to get this more, we have to work more, we have to spend more time in the office so we bill more. We don’t think about people as people. We think about more as there’s another hour we get to bill, there’s another bill we get to send out.

For me, creating a culture where people feel rewarded, where people feel that they’re doing something important and most importantly, where they can be themselves in the office, giving people the freedom to work when they want, where they want, as long as they know they got to get projects done at this time. Corporate culture overall, I think, takes the intention to make a place where people enjoy being part of. I’m a huge fan of John Garrett in his book, What’s Your “And”?

John, in his book, if anybody hasn’t heard about it, you are more than the auditor or the tax preparer or the bookkeeper, who you are is the passions you have outside of work. The mountain biker, the hiker, the violin player, the chef. Whatever you are outside of work defines who you are. If you can even integrate that into work at somehow or at least be able to share that at work, it is life-changing. We have about 70 people. One of the most important things we do is learn more about the people who they are rather than what they do.

Abundant Accountant | Randy Crabtree | How To End Burnout

How To End Burnout: Who you are is the passions you have outside the work.

 

Every time we hire a new person, I Teams call them out of the blue. They probably wonder, “Why is Randy calling me,” or, “Who’s Randy?” I call them and we don’t talk about work at all. We talk about what they enjoy, and what their passions are. There are studies out there that show and I think the percentages are 96% of the people who have three close friends at work are more satisfied with their life. If they’re more satisfied with their life, obviously, that’s going to translate to a better work-life balance and a better mental state and figuring out ways to avoid burnout. It’s not as easy or it’s harder to define culture, but creating this atmosphere where people feel they can be a part of and be themselves in it is so important. That’s a big one with me.

What do you think, Randy, for the people that might have 1 or 2 people in their firm or they’re a solopreneur they run their own firm totally on their own? What would you think would be the best for creating the culture for someone by themselves or even if they add a part-time admin or someone offshore? What would that look like to you?

I think part of it can be if it’s you two, if it’s your solo or 1 or 2 people, maybe create something like this with your clients. If you get to know your clients on this level, they’re going to be so astounded that you want to know more about them personally, that you want to learn deeper and build a deeper relationship with them. I think you’re going to develop these friendships that are based on that shared passion and that shared knowledge that you now have of them that I think can replace the in-office employee sharing.

Develop deep friendships based on shared passion and knowledge. Share on X

I think that’s a great idea, getting to know the clients about who they are versus what they do. I think a lot of us, especially the business clients, are always talking about what they do and all the work stuff. Thank you, Randy, for sharing. I know you had one other amazing story about someone who made these changes in their firm. I think the biggest thing that I got out of this and I think someone reading has an objection is like, “I have so much stuff to do, Randy. You want me to do all of this?”

The perceived amount of time seems to be so much greater than the actual amount of time to make these changes. Making these changes increases profitability, increases your revenue, and decreases your stress. If you’re on medications, we’ll remove those. If you’re having anxiety, you’re dealing with depression, we’ll start to diminish that as well because all of the stress creates all those other problems and challenges that we deal with.

Based on building what you said, another thing is increasing revenue. I’m going on a tangent for a second. If you can implement your passions into your work, so let’s say going out to restaurants and dining and you’re so in into it and everything about these fine dining restaurants, get a client. Get a second client. Your passion’s going to show through. When your passion shows through, you’re going to build this relationship with this client and they’re going to be looking for you for all different kinds of services.

Abundant Accountant | Randy Crabtree | How To End Burnout

How To End Burnout: If you can implement your passions in your work, you will build a relationship where your clients will look for you.

 

Now you can go deep with one specific client, but you’re going to enjoy it so much because you love that or you love the trucking industry. I have a friend who pivoted from working with restaurants, which were his main client and decided he liked working with lawyers. He liked everything about dealing with lawyers. In a year’s time, he has over 200 lawyer clients now because his passion and knowledge showed through. When you’re passionate, knowledge shows through. Your clients understand that. Your revenue, your relationship billing, the pricing you can charge will go way up because they know that you have their back.

You’re more excited to do the work because you’re also passionate about what they do. Being the lawyer or if you like fine dining and you like to go to all your client’s businesses for dinners every day or lunches because now you’re killing 2 birds with 1 stone. You’re able to also get out and stop maybe the work aspect, but building the relationship and understanding who they are versus what they do, even though it is your client and it is still considered work, but you’re enjoying a meal. You’re with family or with friends and you’re doing something other than taking work home in a way. It’s a 2-for-1 special. I am all about it.

That’s a great story. I’m imagine working with lawyers is very taxing. How has that friend of yours implemented managing their time better and learning how to disconnect from the work and building that culture in order to service 200 clients and have increased revenue, and higher profitability, but also not working crazy hours?

He is a very brilliant guy. I love him a lot. He does a great job. What he tried to do, and everybody can do this, we have this mindset that we think we have to do everything. We think we have to be in charge. We think we have to know everything. What he’s done, he is actually implemented a system where he has a bunch of outsource partners that have knowledge that helps him with his business.

He’s actually creating an offshore team that does a lot of the work. He doesn’t even do much of the work. He’s actually out being the face of it, which he enjoys creating videos to share knowledge with people. I’ve done a very similar thing, looking at the things you enjoy doing. There’s everything in your business, everything you do could be outsourced, whether it’s delegated internally or outsourced to another provider. That’s what he’s done. He’s been able to build this nice practice without having to spend a lot of time actually doing the work.

That’s a beautiful thing. Ultimately, he gets to work with 200 lawyers now, so kudos to him. Randy, I know there are so many other things that I’m sure you want to share. Is there anything else that’s at the tip of your tongue that we have to share in order for those who are struggling with burnout and almost maybe to where your point was? Maybe you can even share a little bit of where you were at when you needed to see a therapist and how one can possibly avoid burnout and by implementing these things we talked about. Is there anything else?

If you want, I can go into that story for five minutes on my going down the path and how I came out of it.

I think that would be impactful as a great wrap-up because if it worked for Randy, it can work for you, too. Maybe you felt this way. You’re so far down a black hole you’re so tired and you’re so stressed and you’re so overwhelmed and the stress is the out of control that you’re so unfocused. How do I get back out of that?

That’s where I had got gotten. When you’re looking at burnout, if you or someone else that you’re working with or know is dealing with it, realize that it is a workplace phenomenon, but there are outside of work pressures or stressors that will amplify the effect of burnout. That’s what happened to me. Our firm, as I mentioned earlier, grows very fast. We have been growing very fast. The time when we were going to take off big time was the same time when I had a stroke. I am very fortunate that physically, I’ve recovered completely. I don’t feel any negative impact from the stroke, but mentally, it took me about five years. It was the exact same time that the stroke happened that the growth was going to happen.

I’m stressing about how I’m going to manage this what I swear was going to be hypergrowth and it has been. I wasn’t equipped to do that, especially with the stress of trying to mentally recover from a stroke. Those two things put me down on this hole of depression, panic attacks, PTSD and all these things were going on. I did a few things and it took five years for me to get out of this. A couple of things is I had to change my role in the business. It ended up being the greatest thing for me personally. It ended up being the greatest thing for a business. Don’t think that just because you started a practice, a firm or a business you have to do it all.

You find your role, find your niche, find your passion and then concentrate on that. That was one thing. Outsource the rest. Honestly, that’s what I do. I don’t even look at email anymore. I have someone do that for me. There’s everything I’ve gotten rid of. From a mental standpoint, don’t be afraid to reach out to somebody. If you’re dealing with burnout, don’t hide it because that’s the worst thing. People think, “This is a sign of weakness. I can’t tell anybody that I’m struggling right now.” Burnout in my mind is a mental illness. Whether it’s mentally, or whatever it is, be open about it. Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is one of the biggest tools you can have as a leader. Be vulnerable and share your story.

For me, I told my wife what was going on. I would tell her I had these melancholy feelings again. She knew what was going on. Eventually, what we decided to do is I needed to see a therapist. The one thing I want to stress with seeing a therapist, honestly, I think everybody should do it. I think it is so eye eye-opening, but the first person you see isn’t necessarily the perfect fit for you. That’s what happened to me. The first person I went to see was a great person. She basically told me, “Randy, you can’t control anything, so don’t worry about it. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen.” I’m like, ‘I’m a CPA. This is what we do. We control things. This isn’t going to work for me.”

I ended up going to see a couple more people. The third person, she made me realize that I could control the way I think at least. I got that thought process back in place. The last five years after that change happened have been unbelievable. I feel like I’m living the perfect life. Coming out from the depression to where I am now, that’s why I’m so passionate about this. I don’t want to see anybody take this burnout and go down this hole that they don’t think they can get out of because you can and you can avoid it, most importantly.

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You can avoid it, but you can also get out of it. There is hope and you have to reach out for help. If you have an insurance plan, I think my boyfriend, too, wanted a new therapist and he talked to 3 or 4. I think we booked 3 or 4 therapy appointments for a couple of weeks. He whittled it down to one and he sees her every single week.

For some, to have that outlet to talk about how you feel and everything, because like you said, you don’t want to hide it and stuff, those feelings. I’m not sure exactly what you said word for word, but I thought it was great. Not being afraid to reach out and ask for help because you’re human, it’s normal and you’re not alone. Thank you so much, Randy, for being here with us on the show. It’s an honor to have you. Thank you for taking out the time.

Thank you. This has been a blast. I always appreciate talking with you, Michelle.

Thank you all so much for joining Randy and I. As always, it’s actually one of my favorite topics because now I love to nap so much and I love to play with Mila, my puppy, and stop working. She’s always nagging me and reminding me all the time to stop. For this episode, what can you take away from the conversation that Randy shared?

You can avoid burnout. You can avoid a stroke from having high stress and you don’t have to go and have those melancholy feelings. If you are having it, reach out for help. Call the number or log into your insurance card provider and search for a therapist. There are people who are willing to help, but I know you can be afraid to reach out for help. I know it can be embarrassing.

I know it can be scary at times as well or is like, “It’s is it even worth it?” I get that, too. I promise you, it is. You just have to make that next step. By you reading here, you’re putting yourself first. By putting yourself first, that’s how you’re going to avoid burnout. What can you do for yourself? How can you implement all of the suggestions and things that we spoke about with Randy?

If you need some help because you do want to double your revenue and you’re trying things like getting more clients and getting more stressed out every tax season and you’re negotiating to discount your prices or you’re basing your prices on the competition, I imagine every single year, you’re suffering through tax season and that story of, “I’m going to make a change next year,” never happens. Next year comes around, you’re doing the same thing.

That is what happens when you’re on the verge of burnout. You have to stop all of it. The simple fact is the clients I work with are using a very simple step-by-step process. If you want to have no AR, you want to work less hours, you want to create these efficiencies that we talked about and you’re ready to make a change in your firm once and for all and you’re done with your old stories, let me show you exactly how to do this. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Head on over to TheAbundantCall.com and book a call with myself and my team. We’ll walk you every step of the way, step by step. We’ll hold your hand through the bridge of fear and we’ve got your back. We look forward to speaking with you soon and I look forward to seeing you on our next episode.

 

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About Randy Crabtree

Abundant Accountant | Randy Crabtree | How To End BurnoutRandy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.

Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score).

You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser, CPA Trendlines, Intuit Accountants TaxPro Center and he is a regular presenter at conferences and training events hosted by national accounting associations, state CPA societies and other industry associations.

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