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Michael Levitt: “We always think we can do it better”

Know what you’re good at, and know what you suck at doing. We think as leaders we can do everything amazing. We can’t. We are not all great at everything, but we are great at a few things. Discover those few things, and figure out how you can spend more time on those things. Let the […]

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Know what you’re good at, and know what you suck at doing. We think as leaders we can do everything amazing. We can’t. We are not all great at everything, but we are great at a few things. Discover those few things, and figure out how you can spend more time on those things.

Let the employees make mistakes. Too often we don’t allow our employees to make mistakes on projects/tasks we used to do. Let them fail. Failure is learning. Guide them where they may have mis-stepped, but continue to encourage them to learn and grow. You’ll have a better employee.


As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Levitt.

Michael is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout media firm. He is an in-person and Certified Virtual Speaker, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, bestselling author, and hosts the Breakfast Leadership Show, a top 200 podcast on iTunes. Michael’s A Top 20 Global Thought Leader on HR & Culture with Thinkers360. and a former Healthcare executive, overseeing 2 Billion dollars budgets.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Back in 2009, over a period of 369 days, I had a heart attack that should’ve killed me, lost my job during the Great Recession, had my car repossessed by my bank, and finally my home was foreclosed. It was definitely a year of worst-case scenarios! All of those things happened because I was completely burned out, and wasn’t taking care of myself, or my responsibilities.

Since then, I reinvented myself, learned what burnout was and how it happens, and I haven’t burned out since. I saw too many people going through the same challenges I faced back in 2009, so I felt I needed to do something about it, so I launched the Breakfast Leadership network to address burnout.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Launching a business is a stressful endeavor on a good day, but launching one while simultaneously maintaining my nonprofit CEO role made for some longer than desired days. Because I didn’t want to burn out doing this (not good PR for the “burnout guy” to burn out), it took longer to grow my business than I would have liked, but in hindsight it was worth the wait.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Kind of silly, but when I launched my podcast, my podcast logo wouldn’t show up properly on iTunes podcasts for the first couple of months. I couldn’t figure out how to correct the image, until I finally figured out to look up the size requirements. Once I corrected the image size, voila! The image showed up.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Burnout consulting is not for the faint of heart. You get to work with organizations and individuals that are struggling with so many different issues. I worked with a client a while back that was an executive, and she was having a difficult time at work establishing boundaries. Emails all day, night and weekend, and wasn’t living her ideal life. Once we started working together and she started implementing boundaries with her boss and at home, her life drastically changed. I found out a couple months later that she and her husband had been trying to start a family for a couple years without success. She called me and told me that since she’s been more relaxed, she was expecting her first child. I joke with clients that if you work with me, you could get pregnant. Wait, that doesn’t sound like it should, lol.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Establish firm boundaries around when you work, and when you don’t. So many of us have laptops or tablets that we work on all day and night, and we’re not spending time doing non-work things. Schedule those “self care” things FIRST in your calendar, and don’t cancel those appointments with yourself.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with great coaches and mentors over the years, but I still go back to the support my parents gave me, through good times and my 369 days, that gave me the courage and confidence to do great things.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

Delegating is crucial for the success of your business, to prevent personal burnout in yourself, and it creates opportunities for others.

I was horrible at delegating, and it led to my burned out state back in 2009. Now, I try to delegate as much as I can, so that I focus on only what I can do.

We are all limited by time, and we can only do so much within a day/week/month/year/career. Delegating tasks that we aren’t great at, allows us to focus on work that we enjoy doing, and that we are good at performing.

Delegating provides growth opportunities for your team, so they can grow and learn new skills that benefits your company.

Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

We can be impatient if someone takes longer than we would to perform a task or project. We always think we can do it better. If we work on everything, we won’t grow the business or ourselves, and we won’t have time to enjoy life.

Delegating gives the opportunity to others to be creative in their own way. I advise leaders to give clear instructions on the task/project to be done, and then let their employees do it their own way.

In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

Improved communication. We think as leaders we are clear to our employees, but we don’t verbalize or write out every single step in a process. Those steps stay in our heads, and unless your employees can mind read, they’re missing some things that could be important in the work they do.

Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Know what you’re good at, and know what you suck at doing. We think as leaders we can do everything amazing. We can’t. We are not all great at everything, but we are great at a few things. Discover those few things, and figure out how you can spend more time on those things.
  2. Write out the desired outcomes. When you delegate a project or task, be crystal clear on the outcomes, when the task/project is due, how you are to be reached for questions (don’t micromanage the project!). Have a few check-in meetings if the project goes over several days or weeks.
  3. Hire people smarter than you. Too often we avoid hiring people that are smarter than you, because you fear they’ll take your job. Hiring smart and talented people makes your business grow, and those people can perform the tasks you “suck at” better than you.
  4. Celebrate your successes often. We finish tasks and projects, and we don’t take any time to celebrate the finishing of your accomplishments. We also don’t spend time reflecting on what went well with the project, and what could be improved. We just march to the next project. There are so many lessons to be learned after finishing tasks and projects, that could make the next task/project more efficient and better.
  5. Let the employees make mistakes. Too often we don’t allow our employees to make mistakes on projects/tasks we used to do. Let them fail. Failure is learning. Guide them where they may have mis-stepped, but continue to encourage them to learn and grow. You’ll have a better employee.

One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

The saying is false because if you do everything, you won’t accomplish anything. You will be stuck right where you are in your company. Your company will not grow, nor will it be able to handle any abnormal issues, because you’re too busy working on everything.

Delegating is giving your employees an opportunity to grow the business and their careers. If no one delegated to the leader earlier in their career, they wouldn’t have become a leader.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Educating organizations that burning out their employees does impact the bottom line, increases absenteeism, mental and physical health issues, and employee morale. These impact your deliverables to your customers/clients, and eventually those clients will go elsewhere for their products and services.

How can our readers further follow you online?

BreakfastLeadership.com or on social media under that @Bfastleadership handle. They can also go to https://BreakfastLeadership.com/tools for free resources to help prevent burnout in their lives.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

It was my pleasure to be with you today!

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