Be mindful — Be present in the moment. Feel your emotions and change your mindset towards positivity.
Millions of Americans are returning back to work after being home during the pandemic. While this has been exciting for many, some are feeling burned out by their work. What do you do if you are feeling burned out by your work? How do you reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back”? What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
In this interview series called “Beating Burnout: 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout,” we are talking to successful business leaders, HR leaders and mental health leaders who can share insights from their experience about how we can “Beat Burnout.”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Nguyen.
Linda Nguyen is the COO of SOUPPLY (soup-lee), a premium phở bowl dedicated to preserving the essence of traditional Vietnamese flavors in one convenient, elevated package simply prepared for anyone to enjoy any time, any place — an essential for people with demanding lives. She thrives on bringing people together and creating long-term relationships that grow networks, expand business opportunities, and increase returns. Her everyday goal — cultivating meaningful connections and impactful collaborations.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
As a young girl, I have always had an interest in entrepreneurship and fashion as I scoured fashion magazines and attempted to line objects I found around the house on the stairway to sell in my makeshift “store”. So fittingly, I attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and majored in Merchandise Marketing. After a few years as a Fashion Stylist in Hollywood, I decided to take a job in healthcare during a slow season from photo and video shoots. Life has a funny way of taking you in directions you had never planned because I ended up staying at the company for over 8 years!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I’m currently in the food industry in which I never thought I would work in. My business partner Gary Nguyen yearned for authentic Vietnamese pho when traveling abroad for extended periods. Growing homesick hundreds of miles away from Orange County, the idea for a premium simple-prep pho bowl with real meat came to mind. And here I am running the company with him!
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I’d like to give Tam Nguyen, President of Advance Beauty College, credit for the connections he’s made for me in the local community. It has led to mentorships, opportunities to serve the community in a non-profit space, and career breaks that I am forever grateful for. He has a heart of gold and is a selfless leader.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I never look at any obstacles or challenges as mistakes, just learning opportunities. The biggest lessons I take away from all of them are to have patience and not to react emotionally. I take the time to sleep on it before making a decision.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito,” by the Dalai Lama. Many people think they need a lot of money to make a difference in the world but there are other ways to make an impact — a smile to brighten someone’s day, a compliment to uplift someone’s spirit, or sending a simple text to someone to let them know you’re thinking of them. You’ll never know who needs it the most that day.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working on a 15 million dollar fundraising campaign to build the Dalai Lama Library & Museum in Ithaca, NY, on the same grounds as the personal monastery of His Holiness. The goal of his teachings is to spread the seeds of kindness and compassion to 7 billion people across the world.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Commitment — I worked hard every single day and never watch the clock. Each day never feels like work for me. That’s how I know I have a passion for entrepreneurship and executive leadership.
Patience — As with any company, we want to scale fast. However, I make sure that processes are in place for current projects before taking on a new project. Taking on too much at once leads to burnout and lack of productivity.
Resilience — Despite challenges and operating in a chaotic start-up environment, I continue to forge ahead and not allow setbacks to deter me from achieving our goals.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of burnout?
Because I have experienced burnout a couple of times this past year!
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about beating burnout. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Burnout”? Can you explain?
During my state of burnout, I was emotionally, physically, and mentally drained from excessive and prolonged stress from an ever-growing list of action items. I was overwhelmed from not being able to meet self-imposed demands and frustrated at the lack of hours in the day to complete daily goals.
How would you define or describe the opposite of burnout?
Be present and engaged with the task at hand. You can only do one thing well at a time. Start somewhere and you’ll be proud for accomplishing that task once it’s completed. Then it’s time to tackle the next. No point in looking back at what wasn’t done or forward at what needs to be done. Remain focused!
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Some sceptics may argue that burnout is a minor annoyance and we should just “soldier on’’ and “grin and bear it.” Can you please share a few reasons why burnout can have long-term impacts on our individual health, as well as the health and productivity of our society?
Burnout leads to a lack of productivity which creates a domino effect of helplessness and hopelessness where you feel no matter how hard you try, you’re not accomplishing enough. Eventually, this affects your life at home and your relationships as you’re in a state of exhaustion feeling you have nothing left to give to those who you love most. This may lead to depression that causes weight gain and health issues.
From your experience, perspective, or research, what are the main causes of burnout?
A heavy load — whether it’s in your career or at home — with lack of assistance. This leads to a feeling you have loss of control in your life. A lack of appreciation for and understanding of our efforts also leads to feeling unsupported.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. What can an individual do if they are feeling burned out by work? How does one reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back?” Can you please share your “5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout?”. (Please share a story or an example for each.)
Delegate — Ask for help! Done is better than perfect. Trust that person to execute accordingly and will ask the necessary questions if they don’t understand.
Be mindful — Be present in the moment. Feel your emotions and change your mindset towards positivity.
Distract — Watch something funny on YouTube or catch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix.
Move — Nothing releases endorphins like movement and exercise! Trust me, you’ll feel better.
Rest — Sleep on it until tomorrow and you’ll find more clarity to proceed.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to help someone they care about reverse burnout?
Listen without giving advice or judgment. Lend a helping hand. Give a hug. Only offer solutions and suggestions if asked.
What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
Check on them occasionally to gauge their workload. Offer assistance by delegating to other team members. Ensure they’re taking the necessary midday breaks to level-set their mind. Give them time off to take care of personal matters they fell behind on due to long work hours or to simply relax and reset.
These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
Implement bi-weekly check-ins to assess the workload. Ask employees individually how they’re feeling and provide a safe space for them to be vulnerable and honest. Schedule monthly meetings for group discussion on how productivity can be improved without adding additional workload on the team. Schedule activities and perks such as massages, catered lunches, or after-work outings to give employees a break from the grind.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to reverse burnout in themselves or others? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
Some have a dependency on alcohol to relieve stress which may turn into addiction and lead to further lack of productivity the next day. This can turn into a domino effect of a downward spiral. Try switching to flavored sparkling water in replace of a daily cocktail or glass of wine or limiting to just one or two alcoholic beverages. I find that sipping slower helps with controlling consumption levels.
Others may choose inactivity believing it’s a form of relaxation yet it may cause one to feel unproductive. A way to avoid this is distract oneself with an activity or a hobby.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Going back to the Dalai Lama, he has a commitment to spread compassion and kindness across the world to 7 billion people. I would like to spark that movement by challenging every person in the world to perform one act of kindness each day.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Beyonce! She found success as both an entertainer and businesswoman. She has remained humble and level-headed under the pressures of the entertainment industry as well as the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. I personally need to channel my inner Sasha Fierce!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Visit my personal website at lindanguyen.com. It includes my social media links.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!