Reboot Podcast Episode #52 – Feast On Your Life – with Rob Symington

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.

Episode 52 // December 20, 2016

“If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing… We may only go in circles…”


Rob Symington

Rob Symington

Founder, Escape the City

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Episode Description

The Reboot podcast was started because we believed that there needed to be an authentic, real conversation about the emotional journey of entrepreneurship. One that included its valleys and not just its peaks. 1 in 3 entrepreneurs will struggle with depression or burnout in their career, yet when it happens to them, many entrepreneurs feel totally alone in their experience.

Rob Symington is founder and entrepreneur who experienced a debilitating period of burnout following the launch of his startup, a startup that was inspired by the idea that work could be more fulfilling, less stressful and generally improve people’s lives no less. In this conversation, Jerry and Rob discuss his experience, why Rob believes it’s so important for him to share it, how he is moving forward, and the fact that the pressure of doing something you passionately believe in can challenge you unlike anything else.

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“How do I shake off all of the definitions of success for how to build a business?”  –  @escroberto

“[Burnout] is an initiation. There’s something [in burnout] for you to discover, to learn.” – El Harrison

“How can we walk the talk? How can we live out what’s going on?” – @jerrycolonna

“What, actually, is going on, and how do we build an organization simultaneously that is sustainable, that is financially sound?” – @jerrycolonna

“You can’t build an innovative organization if you can’t build a sustainable one. – @escroberto

“How can we walk the talk of living and working differently?” – @jerrycolonna

“Your problems are not going to be solved when you build a business. Your problems are not going to be sold by a dream job.” – @escroberto

“Transformation  takes patience, and it takes courage.” – @jerrycolonna

“It’s so uncomfortable to realize all the ways in which you are a stranger to yourself.” – @escoroberto

“Never, ever, ever stop the practice of growth.” – @jerrycolonna

Rob is the founder of Escape the City, which is a community for career changes.

Rob experienced a debilitating episode of burnout, which took him to a place of exhaustion and not working for six months. He is now sharing his experience to help others understand they are not alone in experiencing burnout and to share some things which have been helpful to him in moving past this episode.

In his period of burnout Rob first saw some traditional counseling which he did not find helpful. He later connected with a coach in London named Elle Harrison. She suggested to Rob that the experience of his burnout was actually an invitation to to discover things about himself. To be curious and to learn.

Rob reports that his top challenge is “Undergoing a business transformation process. From vision to strategy to people, process and operations whilst keeping the show on the road whilst recovering from burnout. Trying to build a progressive organization along b-corp, reinventing organizational lines. Also, trying to ensure business survival and progress.”

Jerry articulates two challenges Rob is facing: “how can we walk the talk? How can we live out what’s going on? What, actually, is going on, and how do we build an organization simultaneously that is sustainable, that is financially sound?”

Rob correlates his burnout experience with a lot of surmounting fear which both he and his cofounder faced.

Jerry notices that burnout is not restricted to just what we think of as high stress, high stakes professions but that often it’s the organizations whose values are the highest aspirations. It’s those who commit themselves in this conscious way of doing good without actually exploring the fear behind the fear.

Rob has a deep rooted fear of not carrying himself with integrity.

Jerry articulates that this fear and Rob’s drive for perfectionism is carrying forward in all he does. That noticing it has not eliminated it.

Jerry and Rob then look at how this drive has drawn him to connect with his colleagues- people who are also committed to escaping the violence of that fear and perfectionist mentality.

At Escape the City they organize small groups which run for three months called tribes. These groups share with each other in an act of support.

Jerry shares that true transformation does not happen in sweeping movements, but instead happens slowly, gradually over time.

Jerry guides Rob in trying to reframe the critical voice and fear that is holding him down and instead see it is as the voice of a friend who is trying to guide and protect him.

If we want to become the person we believe we are capable of, we need to learn to love those parts of ourselves we may not like, including our internal voices.

Transformation, happiness, reaching our potential is a journey, not a destination. To remain resilient, we must learn to live in the practice.