AA 95 | Relaxed Success


When stress gets in your way, it can affect everything around you and cause a dramatic decline in productivity. But how can you turn this around to let yourself be stressed out in a relaxed state? In this episode, Denise Mandeau, a business growth strategist, says that because we commoditize our value, we are trading dollars for hours, which does not help increase revenue, nor does it helps in putting you in a relaxed state. Building a new discipline and doing simple tweaks in your environment, whether at the office or home working, through changing what you see, smell and hear are some of the keys that can help you achieve this state. Tune in to this episode now and learn more about how you can achieve relaxed success with Denise!

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Relaxed Success: Getting Stress Out Of The Way With Denise Mandeau

In this episode, we have a very interesting and different topic about relaxed success. I’m joined by my partner in crime, Denise Mandeau, who also works with me here at the Abundant Accountant Empire. If you’re looking for some relaxed success and also having relaxed stress and not sure how to do that, everyone is telling you to grind out fourteen-hour days and you got to work more.

Ultimately that has you burnt out, burning the candle at both ends, depleted and exhausted. I have a brand new masterclass that you can watch over at TheAbundantAccountant.com/Accountant-Masterclass. Not only will it show you how to put yourself first but also how to work a lot smarter than harder. It is an investment of 43 minutes of your time but it will pay off dividends in the long-term so register and watch.

Welcome, Denise, to the show.

Michelle, it’s good to be here.

It’s awesome to have you back, my partner in crime, all the way on the East Coast while I am on the West Coast. We’re talking about probably an oxymoron for a lot of you. Our topic in this episode is relaxed success. We had a chit-chat about it and I said, “We need to have an episode on this topic.” What do you think are the biggest challenges for most accounting and tax professionals from our phone calls than the ones that we have, Denise?

Most of the people that we talk to are under tremendous amounts of stress. They’re grinding all the time, trying to please everybody and multitasking. They’re doing everything for everybody, not sleeping at night and not taking care of their bodies. Go down the list. They’re getting burnt out.

We don’t want that for you. This is probably a topic you’ve heard quite often but we’re going to come about it from a place of having relaxed stress. I don’t think you can 100% eliminate it. Especially in our industry, I don’t think it’s something that’s ever going to be eliminated but how can you be stressed out in a relaxed state? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode. Have a pen and paper. I’m going to be sharing some stories about what I do personally because I believe I am in a relaxed stress environment most of the time. I’m going to share some of my routines and rituals. Also, from a previous business of mine, I had a very high stressed environment for almost a little over eight years.

My previous business in the food space was preparing meals. Denise had some questions for me about that and I said, “Save them for the episode.” Denise, this was brought up in one of your coaching calls with a coach you have about having relaxed stress and relaxed success. They go hand-in-hand. Sometimes when people have success, their emotional state goes 180 degrees to the other side and that could not support us as well in our health and mental state. What was the main thing that said, “We need to have a conversation on this topic?”

It’s been interesting because I’ve had an opportunity to take a step back. You and I work together but we’ve learned to work in a very relaxed and successful way. Both of us have learned over the past several years what Gruber says, “You got to grind it out and put in the time and hours.” Why do we do that? It’s because we want to be accepted and valued. What I’ve come to find or what we uncovered was that just because they believe that doesn’t mean it has to be true.

What if that isn’t even true? What if we can have our business be accepted and valued, not feel like we’re always being manipulated or having to give everything away, please everybody and do everything for everyone but ourselves? We can stop being victims of our circumstances and be grateful, present and know that we have the tools, the value and the ability to create our destiny in any way we want

There are a lot of studies that prove this but I won’t go into the science. If you’re reading, you might think I’m crazy. Anytime you’ve picked up your phone at nighttime, you’re like, “Let me check my emails at 10:00, 11:00 or midnight.” You think that doing more is better or you’ll get it out of the way for the next day. It’s called the Law of Diminishing Returns.

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Any time we’re putting effort in above an average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week so a total of 40 hours, we get less done. There are plenty of studies that have shared that 40 hours a week can optimize productivity. Denise and I would say our goal is 30 hours a week but always having breaks in between is key because that is how you can be in relaxed stress and relaxed success environment. You’re not having these highs and lows.

Everyone probably has shared and I’m sure there are plenty of books on it but it’s the dumbest thing where you grind out fourteen hours a day and all this nonsense. If you look at people who are highly compensated for meeting their goals, they’re having breaks between their days. How many of us here are taking breaks like real 20 to 30-minute breaks in between meetings, doing a tax return or working on a resolution case? Any of those things when we’re not taking breaks, we go down a downward spiral.

It’s because we commoditize our value. Especially accounting professionals we know that haven’t worked with us, many of them are billing by the hour. If you don’t work, you don’t make money. If you were working in a different way or business model that wasn’t about trading dollars for hours, that’s an example of relaxed success.

I think of the tax attorneys we’ve worked with because billing by the hour is their business model. The way we teach is 180 and then they’re like, “We’ve been doing it wrong for a long time.” The tax attorneys have even shared with us that it’s not about the time that we spend. It’s about the outcome and the results that we deliver. One of our students, David, shared a story. Do you remember that story about the drawing that Picasso did, Denise?

Yes. He said that Picasso was sitting in a café. Somebody came up to him and they’re like, “You’re Picasso. Could you draw something on my napkin?” Picasso took a napkin and squiggled something. He goes, “That’ll be $5,000.” He’s like, “What? You just squiggled on a napkin. It took you five seconds.” He goes, “Yes, but It took me my lifetime to know exactly how to do that.”

If it’s taken your lifetime and you’ve been in practice for 20, 30, 40 years or even 1 year, maybe in corporate, you still have all these years of experience. Why do some of us still charge by the hour and get into this hourly rate if you would like to create what we call relaxed success with relaxed stress? That’s not going to go anywhere. We’re always going to have some stressful days but when you’re coming from a relaxed place and not burning the candle at both ends, the results are extremely different. The way you can communicate that value to your clients suddenly shifts too.

I don’t know if you read about this but I was reading this article on success and they were talking about these elite musicians. These elite musicians would sleep eight hours a night and take naps, whereas the regular musicians if they were not elite, were doing extra practice sessions and staying up late practicing. That’s where they had diminishing returns. How do you create this balance?

I can’t take naps. Naps aren’t in it for me. However, my boyfriend relies on naps. It’s fantastic. Naps are amazing if you can take a nap but whatever it is for you, how can you create relaxed success in your environment? What would need to shift? Denise, what are the things you’ve done to create this in your life to give some examples?

AA 95 | Relaxed Success

Relaxed Success: A different business model that isn’t about trading dollars for hours is an example of relaxed success.


I’ve put structure in my life and made some decisions about what my boundaries are. Boundaries are super important that I don’t pick up the phone after a certain hour of the night. I’ve learned that I do not check my email on the weekends, as tempting as that is. I’ve found that if it’s that important, then somebody will call me.

If people know my boundaries, even if they reached me on the weekend, it’s not going to get taken care of until business hours and that’s okay. I love having those kinds of things. I guess you call it an atomizer where I put lavender drops in there and it mists up calming lavender in my office. It’s peaceful. I’ve created a peaceful environment, even in my office, that when I am working, it’s enjoyable.

I love jazz or chill music. If you think of all your senses, you have a smell, your ears, look and eyes. What Denise was sharing was the smell sense. If you still have your senses, all three of them or all of them but there’s more than that, you can have the scent going, low-key jazz music or something in the background and it changes our physical state. It comes again from a relaxed state. Everything we’re talking about is trying to share with you how you can have relaxed success but also, for some of you reading, you could be thinking, “Michelle, I’m stressed all the time.” I get that. I understand and this would also work for relaxed stress.

If you’re not listening to any music during the day as you’re pumping out tax returns, doing accounting or bookkeeping, maybe it’s the simple thing of turning on some light music or if you love the smell of coffee, brew a pot of coffee but don’t drink it. It’s a lot of caffeine. Just smell it. That’s what I sometimes do or we even have boiled cinnamon and oranges to make it smell holiday-ish. I’ve done that.

If you’re in the office or maybe you’re even working from home, you could boil that. What are different things you could visually see that change the scent in the environment you’re working in and also change what you’re listening to? Those are some simple tweaks that you can do. I have to talk about sleep because I love my sleep.

The more relaxed stress you can create in your life, the better your sleep will get because when you embrace this relaxed state, you will be able to sleep a lot better. As a busy accounting professional tax firm owner, it probably is a little challenging to get a lot of sleep. I get that but by making these small tweaks, you’ll start to reap these kinds of benefits and see the shifts and changes in how you feel the next day.

It’s these small little tweaks that you can implement now. Maybe committing to what Denise does where she doesn’t check her email on the weekends, that works for her. For me, I love it. I’m such in a relaxed state on the weekends that I don’t mind it. I don’t get very many emails anyway but I have extra time. I’m in a relaxed state.

I might be listening to music in Greece that day, watching my YouTube channels. That’s what I do for visuals. I turn on YouTube and I see these beautiful sceneries of places that I will visit or have already visited because I like the remembrance of it. Having to think, work, make changes and shift as world-class musicians do or the top executives, a business is going to build a new discipline by being able to get more done by doing less. We talk about that by working a lot smarter than harder because working hard is exhausting. I did that for eight and a half years. I don’t recommend that to anybody.

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What was that like for you when you were under high stress? How did that impact your relationships and own health even?

High stress didn’t do me any good. I was even partially depressed at one point. I didn’t know what depression was but I think I had that at one point. I was always irritated and on edge. I wasn’t that happy. I’m told by everybody I’m around, “Michelle, you are a different person now.” Part of it was having to close my business, move on and put that behind me as a part of my very expensive MBA program.

Take those lessons learned, keep the past in the past and move forward with everything I learned to make different changes. There’s one thing I did during those eight and a half years, even though it was the most stressful time of my life. What I did was I focused on what I did have control over because I wasn’t having relaxed success at that time. I was having a high-stress failure.

I said, “How could I have relaxed stress? What are some things that I could do to bring me to an even keel,” even though I did not have a lot of control over something. For those of you that don’t know what I used to do, I had a meal prep company called Fitzy Foods. We had a retail store and a manufacturing kitchen. I had pitched my products to vitamin shops.

We built out ten stores in the New York, New Jersey area and got our food into their stores. I had to figure out the distribution and the manufacturing of the food in New York. We also got our products into Costco and didn’t have enough money to fund the inventory for that. That was stressful. Always having not enough money to make payroll, which I’m sure some of you reading might have that sometimes, where cashflows up and down and sideways.

With all of that comes a lot of stress but there were a few things that I had control over. What I had control over was what I put in my mouth, the food choices that I had and the amount of sleep I could take. If I could get some rest, I knew that the next day was going to be a little bit better but if I would stay up worrying or checking emails and reading about whatever challenge or broken.

One day, there was a flood. It looked like Hurricane Katrina outside of our kitchen. A pipe broke. Another day, all the ovens were broken. Another day, the walk-in refrigerator over froze. These types of problems I had were massive. You were on this emotional rollercoaster ride but I knew that if I could figure out a good way to make sure I went to bed at a certain time, I had a routine and discipline around the things I could control, the patients I would have the next day for the challenges that would come up was diminished. I would have patients instead of more stress I should say.

It sounds like it was very stressful. If you were learning from that, you are operating under that high level of stress and trying to manage it versus how you do business. What’s it like for you now?

It’s a relaxed success. I wake up. My morning routine is very important to me. I pretty much do the same thing every morning. I have some oatmeal with six strawberries and protein powder. I drink 1/2 gallon of water by about 11:00 AM. I’m mostly onto the gym right after oatmeal. After that, I will make a decaf latte with some almond milk and a little bit of honey. I will have a protein shake and then I will start my day. I usually start my day anywhere from 10:30 to 11:00 AM every day. I don’t start working prior to that. That’s important to me to keep relaxed success. I also sleep well. I make sure I go to bed.

AA 95 | Relaxed Success

Relaxed Success: Put structure in your life and make some decisions about your boundaries.


I was having a discussion with my boyfriend and he crashes. He’ll stay up and then crash like a nine-year-old trying not to go to sleep because his parents are telling him, “Go to bed.” I’m the complete opposite. I’m like, “It’s time to go to sleep.” I always get eight hours of sleep. I track my sleep every night. A lot of you reading are very analytical and love to track and measure things.

Maybe even tracking your sleep and seeing how your sleep is versus what you think you’re sleeping because there’s a big difference. That’s pretty much my day. I try to only work from 10:30 to 11:00 to about 4:00 or 5:00. Some days are a little bit longer but that would be by choice only. Once a week, I volunteer my time. On Tuesdays, I only work a few hours and then volunteer at the suicide hotline. That is very stressful.

Some weeks aren’t as bad as others but this is the volunteer position. After a stressful day or shift, what we talk about is, “What are you going to do for yourself? What’s your self-are plan look like?” For each of you reading could say, “What does my self-care plan look like after a stressful day?” That is how you can create a world of relaxed stress versus high stress. What could I do to take care of myself?

What’s the self-care regimen? With my supervisor on the volunteer shift, that is protocol. You have to be able to share what you’re going to do after your shift. For each of us, if you have a very stressful day, what can you do to relax that doesn’t involve having a drink or a glass of wine? Something to take a walk outside or if it’s too cold, play with a pet or take a bath. Do something to bring yourself down to that relaxed state.

That’s critical. The thing is that when you take the steps or you are working because you’ve taken care of yourself, it’s a different experience. One of the things that I’m clear about in the business we have is that even though there are ups and downs like any other business, we don’t react. We respond. We don’t have big highs and lows. If somebody doesn’t want to work with us, no problem. We don’t add additional meaning. Part of that is because we know our value and worth. We only work with people who understand that, respect and accept us and value what we do.

When you’ve created your business that way and stood your ground, anything can happen. You can handle it. It’s not that big a deal. Think about it. If you hold onto something too tight, it doesn’t let the blood flow in your hands. You got to loosen up and let the blood flow in your business. Don’t worry about where’s the business. Is the business going to come in? Yes, it’s going to come in because the more stressed you are, that’s also a repellent, I believe.

It’s not going to attract the things that you want. What tweaks can you make for your visual and smell? What sense could you add? We sometimes like sage. What music can you turn on? What things can you shift in your office, home office, corporate cubicle or whatever you’re doing to create a relaxed environment for your senses?

Think about, if you have a stressful day, what’s your self-care plan look like? What are you going to do differently and take care of yourself? Thank you for joining us here on our discussion of having relaxed success. We have people sometimes that are very upset and not so happy. I had a woman like that. She’s a very angry CPA.

I get it. I’d be angry if I were her too. Being under-appreciated and undervalued by her clients and always getting her bills torn apart like, “Why are you charging me for this?” I don’t think any of you want that or deserve it. Do you want to see how some of our accounting and tax clients have changed and gotten to more of a relaxed success, where they are taking vacations during tax season?

I heard from one of our clients, Ross. He took five days off to go snowboarding during tax season. If you want that, then make sure to check out our brand new masterclass at TheAbundantAccountant.com/Accountant-Masterclass and see for yourself. It’s a 45-minute investment to watch our webinar. You can figure out ways to put yourself first so you know you’re not taken advantage of by your clients anymore and angry like this woman because it didn’t sound very fun. Everyone wants to get their life back.

If you want to get your life back, then head on over to TheAbundantAccountant.com/Accountant-Masterclass to see how others have gotten their life back. We give you some more steps on what to do and take in addition to what we talked about in this episode. Thank you, Denise, for being here with us. As always, thank you, readers, for being here on the show. If you think this show would help one of your colleagues, make sure to share this episode with them. We will see you in the next episode.


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About Denise Mandeau

AA 95 | Relaxed SuccessDenise Mandeau, Business Growth Strategist and has proven success as a Business Owner, Financial Planner and award-winning Sales professional for over 35 years. She has learned what it takes to produce results and has been working with professionals and sales teams over the last few years helping them to generate millions of dollars in new business. She has personally closed over $1.8 million in new business in the last 12 months. Denise is passionate about teaching others to learn how to sell without being salesy!




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