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Episode 14: Chill Is The New Busy

Episode 14: Chill Is The New Busy

Imagine a company where the goal is to be “chill” over “busy.” At goodr we have an initiative called “Chill is the New Busy,” designed to keep people from working more than 40 hours per week-- because you don’t need to hustle for your self-worth at goodr.

“How are you doing?” OH, you’re “busy”? Guess what, busy is legit a complaint masqueraded by a brag. Do you think you could answer chill over busy? Even better, try answering “Chill AF.”

The Chill is the New Busy initiative was put together to manage overwhelm status. Nicole, who you met last week, brought up an initiative about burnout. Burnout is real, and the saying, “Chill is the new busy,” is how we decided to frame it. Language is important and this initiative is an extension of that. If someone asks, “Yo Stephen, can you play golf this weekend?” If he answers, “I can’t.” It’s a lie. He CAN physically play golf. But he’s not making it his priority.

“You know what’s impressive? If you can get your job done in 30 hours, not 40. That’s impressive!” ACTUAL WORDS SPOKEN BY OUR CEO. Forty hours is a sh*t ton of time, you can do a lot in that time. We started Googling what can be accomplished in 40 hours, and came across this fun fact for the runners in the crowd: In the 2018 Tahoe 200 (yup, a 200 mile running race) Kyle Curtin busted out a 49:27:22, followed by Courtney Dauwalter’s 49:54:36. Wouldn’t you rather have time to spend training for something radical versus hustling for your self-worth at a job?? Too extreme of an example? Whatever, roll with it. The goal is to do your work and live your life the way you want to live it. Get your job done, and don’t pretend that you’re working to fill up the time.
There is no corner office, and no VIP parking spot at goodr. If you love what you do and you’re not just trying to get through the day, the idea of chill is much more obtainable. Stephen’s good friend and coworker shared a story about his journey hustling for self-worth. He worked late all of the time and let his relationships suffer because of it. Guess what? That company does not even exist anymore! What an eye-opener. He is now one of the most chill and fulfilled individuals at goodr. You need to be confident in your role and your ability. “I know when you’re 32, you think this is how it's supposed to be… but you don’t have to ruin your life because of it.” You should show up and do your job, and do it well. Solid life advice.

Carl the Flamingo wearing pink sunglasses
Do you make time to go to the dentist every 6 months? Pay your bills? Have regular eye exams? Carl the Flamingo does. He might show up to said appointments slightly inebriated, Feti travel mug in his wing filled with a margarita (can’t taint his actual Yeti mug with booze, not to mention, he drinks it fast enough that it doesn’t need it to stay thatttt cold…). Point is, Carl knows that self-care is one of goodr’s supportive behaviors to the core value of authenticity. Take care of yourself so you can show up in life fully present. Don’t let your life go into shambles because you’re hustling for your self-worth. Know the difference between travel and vacation.
We like looking at this through the concept of the slight-edge. Let’s go back to running. You run a little further every day over a long period of time, constantly sharpening your axe, and before you know it you’re chasing down Courtney Dauwalter’s insane 49:54:36 finish at the 2024 Tahoe 200. Flip it: If you have a pizza today, you’re not going to be a lumpy blob tomorrow-- but if you eat pizza every day… it’s a really slippery slope. If you miss hanging out with your buddies once, it’s okay. However, if you’re constantly rejecting invites to work crazy hours, you begin to erode your relationships and connections.

At goodr we use an Overwhelm Status, red, yellow, green, on our weekly meeting update slides to identify where people are at. We realized this was up for interpretation and we needed to define it better. The Chill is the New Busy’s goal is to help define this. If an Overwhelm Status is “yellow” on that Tuesday meeting, it’s a sign for the individual’s Flock Leader to check-in. What do you need to have taken off your plate? Simple options are getting excused from meetings, or renegotiating timelines. A plan will be made to get off of “yellow” by the end of the week. If 40 hours have been worked by the end of the day Thursday, plan on taking Friday off! That’s how you solve that!

People might not want to say they’re “yellow”, thinking it means, “I can’t handle my shit.” How do we prevent that from happening? We don’t have a foolproof plan. It is an honor system, and you have to want to opt-in. We added a life and a goodr Overwhelm Status update. If you’re going through a breakup in your life, you might be in “red” for life or personal emotional overwhelm, but staying “green” when it comes to your job. That’s okay, and we’re here to support you in whatever way you need.

We reward “chill”, we don’t reward “busy”. We need to just reiterate and encourage people to live a balanced life that they enjoy. Why would you want to pretend to be chill? That’s not fun for anyone. It’s a red flag if people don’t want to live into this. If a person believes that they need to work 80 hours a week to get their job done… we should probably be creating a new role and get hiring!

We’re not asking people to be perfect either. If you assign a project without saying, don’t spend more than two hours on this, someone might spend four days on it. Setting these timelines is a helpful tactic to help communicate deliverable expectations.

Why are people overwhelmed? We found three buckets that the answer to this fits into.

We call it the RED RECKONING:

1. Communication issues

2. Efficiency issues

3. Hustling for self-worth

These break down to roughly 20%, 20%, 60%. There is a lot behind each reckoning. Let’s drill into it…

Communication issues:

This arises when there is a lack of saying, “no” or renegotiating timelines. Ask for help, and get clarity on how long things should take. This can sometimes get you out of “red” right away. It’s okay to miss a meeting. It’s okay to say no to the CEO. If Stephen really needs it, he’ll communicate that.

Efficiency issues:

This gets a little more sticky because you’re starting to question the individual’s ability to get work done, which often goes back to the GTD practice. (Figure out what that is here!) Additionally, perfectionism leads to procrastination. The evolution of this is providing more and more clarity at every level, every project, and role.

Hustling for self-worth:

This is the one that hits closest to our egos. Saying, “I’m busy,” is equal to “Don’t question my value.” It’s an easy shield to use to avoid answering tricky questions. In some cases, people aren’t the right fit for a role, which is okay! People can be afraid of getting “found out.”

When working through the Red Reckoning, take into consideration our definition of news: “News is neither good nor bad, it just is. Bad news is no time and no options. Good news is time and options.” We’re smart people with resources, we can solve almost any problem with time and options. It’s not bad if you fuck something up, but it is bad if you don’t own it.

What do you say to people who say, “There is no way I can do my job in 40 hours or less!”? Maybe you can’t! Maybe you need a new job. Go back to the Red Reckoning. Are you not communicating deadlines properly? Is it your efficiency practice? Are you hustling for self-worth?
When someone says, “it isn’t possible,” what do you say? The goal is to try to break people out of “we can’t”. Ask people what three things they need so they CAN do it. It goes back to communicating.

What are the biggest challenges to goodr fully adopting this initiative? It starts with message repeat and then learning how to separate emotional overwhelm from work. There has been a lot of trauma in society currently. We make sure we hear and see people. The last thing is, being able to define everyone’s roles in more details, so we can live into that and don’t cause burnout.

Most CEO’s will probably balk at the idea of telling people to work less, Stephen clearly believes this, and wants people to live into it, so what the hell? Stephen hasn’t felt like he has gone to work in years. He loves what he does and wants to create that for everyone else. The reality is that he doesn’t often work more than 40 hours a week. This is another version of challenging the status quo. You don’t need to fill the time, you just need to do what is asked of you.

How many times have you been in the red this year? Two weeks… the week before Covid really hit, and the week after everything shut down.

How many vacation days have you taken this year? At least 15.

What happens if someone takes 0 days of vacation in a quarter? We don’t have an official policy yet, so for now Stephen just gives them shit. But we’d like to have something that incentives vacation in the future.

What does wild success look like in the Chill is the New Busy world? Everyone is chill all the time, everyone takes two months of vacation every year, and our revenue per employee keeps growing.

Do we really mean it when we say not to work over 40 hours a week? If you’re a non-exempt employee absolutely. Amongst our leadership team it is highly discouraged to work over 40.

Seriously, this isn’t bullshit. It’s not perfect, but it is a legit initiative.

Lead from the top down. If CEOs and VPs are working 60 hours a week, that becomes the norm. Remember Red Reckoning when you find yourself hustling for your self-worth.
1. Define what overwhelm means.

2. Set up weekly checkpoints.

3. Create your process to get people out of yellow and red.

4. Start being CHILL!

Chill is officially the new busy. Go live it.

Tune in Now: Listen to the Episode Here

Get to know the dynamic duo

Meet the hosts

stephen lease

Stephen Lease is the CEO (Chief Executive Octopus) of goodr and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr Podcast. Since Stephen co-founded the company in 2015, goodr has grown to over 140 employees, with award-winning sunglasses sold in more than 5,000 doors worldwide. Stephen’s spirit animal is an octopus, he’s soul-bonded with a basset hound, and he is 16% flamingo.

shaun tinney

Shaun Tinney is the Dean of goodr University (Head of Learning and Development at goodr) and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr podcast. When he’s not helping goodr employees level up their behaviors, he’s writing and performing music. Recently he released his first EP, Living Driven, about the quest for self-reliance, fresh perspective, and creative freedom.

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