Home » Why Most Entrepreneurs Are Slowly Killing Themselves: Phil Drolet at TEDxMileHigh (Transcript)

Why Most Entrepreneurs Are Slowly Killing Themselves: Phil Drolet at TEDxMileHigh (Transcript)

Phil Drolet

Phil Drolet – TRANSCRIPT

Wow, it’s truly an honor to be here with all of you. Today I want to share with you why I believe that most entrepreneurs are slowly killing themselves.

If you’re an entrepreneur, my intention is to help you achieve greater results in your business by consistently performing at a higher level, by being a lot less stressed out, and by having more fun on your entrepreneurial journey. If you’re not an entrepreneur, but you consider yourself to be a hard worker in your job, I still think a lot of these principles will apply to you. Entrepreneurs are a fascinating breed of people. They’re some of the most passionate and driven people in the world. Oftentimes, they’re also some of the most obsessive and out of balance individuals you’ll ever meet.

This combination can lead to world changing innovation and incredible beauty. Unfortunately, it can also lead to a lot of suffering and self destruction. Here’s where this gets interesting. This personality issue that most entrepreneurs have to deal with is strongly compounded by a very dangerous social issue. In North America today, the social narrative entrepreneurship tells us that, to be successful, we have to be willing to sacrifice our health, our relationships and even our emotional well-being.

Simply put, we got to pay the price if we want to be successful. When we look at some of the most successful and most influential role models of entrepreneurship today, it’s pretty interesting what we see. Let’s look at Elon Musk, for example. Elon Musk is the poster boy for world changing entrepreneurship. Over the last year, he’s co-founded some of the most extraordinary companies like PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla.

He’s done so by proudly working a 100 hours per week. In a recent interview, when asked what advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Elon said, “Just work like hell. You just gotta put in 80 to 100 hours per week, week after week.” Now, to put this in perspective, to work 80 a week, you have to work from 8am till 9pm nonstop for six days a week. If you’re really courageous and you want to work 100 hours a week, you’re looking at six days a week doing 8am to 12.30am. That’s past midnight. That certainly doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like sleep and exercise and spending time with loved ones, which ironically enough are all activities that have been shown scientifically to increase our happiness and our work performance. Working this much can lead to a whole slew of problems.

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In the case of Elon, there’s a darker side to the story that not a lot of people know about. He’s only 42, and he’s already divorced twice. He admits that he spends very little time with his five children. When he’s with them, he’s often responding to e-mail. Now, I’m not here to judge Elon’s lifestyle or decisions. But I do believe that before we start to glorify or emulate someone, we should look at the whole picture.

Not just our highlight real. I know this from experience: The extreme pursuit of my entrepreneurial dreams almost destroyed me – twice. Over the last twelve months, I figured out a way to have greater results in my business, not by pushing harder and working more, but by actually working less, by having more fun and enjoying my life a lot more. I realized that the dichotomy between achieving my greatest dreams and enjoying my life in this moment, was actually a false one. For people like me and many other entrepreneurs who have an overachieving personality, taking more time to relax and appreciating life more can be the biggest catalyst to bigger results.

For some of you, this might sound crazy and too good to be true. So let me tell you how I came to this realization. Three years ago, I launched my first business. My intention was to help people build better habits, improve their mindset and do more extraordinary things with their life. At first I was super enthusiastic.

I was having the time of my life and this was really fun. But as I became more successful and as the business grew, my workload increased and so did the complexity of my life. Not knowing what to do, I decided to see what other successful entrepreneurs were doing. To see if I could learn from them. When I found out that Mark Zuckerberg spends routinely 16 hours a day at the Facebook office, I figured he was probably a good example to follow.

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I mean, things have worked out pretty well for him in the last few years. From that point on, whenever I ran into a problem, I would just unleash my inner Zuckerberg and throw more hard work at the problem. I figured if I could just work a little bit harder, be a little more productive, then all my problems would go away, my business would thrive and then I would be happy. Well, let me tell you: That approach did not work at all. Within a few months, I’d run myself into the ground, I was stressed out of my mind and I felt like there must be something wrong with me because I just wasn’t able to work as much as Mark Zuckerberg.

To make things worse, here I was running a business called “The Feel Good Lifestyle”, while feeling stressed out and exhausted. As you can imagine, I was a little bit out of integrity, and I hated that. So I decided to do things differently. I decided to do a little experiment. I gave myself a 30 day work less challenge.

For 30 days, I intentionally spent less time working and I reallocated the extra time through doing things like spending time with my friends, going in nature and going on more dates with amazing women. Now, as you can imagine, it was a very enjoyable month. Lo and behold something unexpected happened; my business had its most profitable month ever by more than 45%. How? For one, because I wasn’t working all the time, I had a lot more mental clarity. I was able to see opportunities clearly and act on them decisively.

My creativity was on a whole new level, I had some of my best ideas ever and my team and I were able to execute on them a lot faster. I learned to build systems, I learned to delegate more and I learned to focus on a few things that actually mattered. Over the next few months, I was on this amazing trajectory and things were going really well. And then, something interesting happened. Because things were going so well, more opportunities came my way, I said yes to more things and before long I was falling back into my old patterns.

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We’re working on all these exciting opportunities, we’re making such rapid progress, all I wanted to do was work more. I was addicted to the dopamine rush. I got from crossing things off my to do list. I was totally high off of the idea that I was achieving my biggest goals. But before long, the high began to fade. I started to feel like all I was doing was run around all day, trying to keep 300 balls in the air.

Deep down, I knew I wanted to take a break, but I was terrified that if I did, the whole thing would fall apart and my business would crumble. Here I was, the successful young entrepreneur, suffocating under the weight of my own ambitions. I didn’t know what to do so I just reverted back to my old humor. I threw more hard work at the problem, hoping it would solve everything. Well, it didn’t. One day in the midst of all this chaos, I decided to go to a sensory deprivation tank.

For those of you who don’t know, a sensory deprivation tank is a tank that’s half full with water, with a lot of salt, where you can actually float on top of the water, in total darkness, in total quietude. It’s a great place to relax and to do some deep reflection. That day, when I lay down to float, I immediately felt this immense wave of fatigue surge through my body. I felt it all. All the stress, all the pressure, all the discipline I’d imposed upon myself in my quest to build a next great company.

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