Tess Cox & Chelsea Cox Of Gillman Group: “Be open to Creatively building relationships”

Be open to Creatively building relationships. Leaning into relationships that can encourage, come alongside and build you up is necessary to sustaining energy. We weren’t meant to lead alone! 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 […]

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Be open to Creatively building relationships. Leaning into relationships that can encourage, come alongside and build you up is necessary to sustaining energy. We weren’t meant to lead alone!


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 Chelsea Cox Gillman & Tess Cox.

They are the mother/ daughter duo behind Tess Cox & Associates LLC, a leadership coaching and consulting firm. Tess is Principal and a Senior Executive Leadership Coach, Consultant, Author and Non-Profit Founder with 30 years of leadership experience. Chelsea is a Leadership Coach & Hospitality Consultant with over 15 years in luxury & lifestyle hotel operations management and leadership throughout the U.S.


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?

We’ve been a mother / daughter team for over 35 years and we are California natives! We both got involved in leadership from early ages whether it was at school, through music or sports. Tess began singing at the age of 10 and continued through college as part of a traveling singing group and well into her adult life. I, Chelsea, was a gymnast from the age of 4 and continued my athletic career up until my junior year of college. Through music and sports, we learned to value hard work, tenacity and authenticity. We both deeply value family and being of service to others, as that was modeled in both of our childhoods.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

We are both of the mindset that being of service to others is how we gain energy. While we found our way to leadership coaching and consulting through different paths, we are aligned in our approach. We lean into building relationships as we support business teams and executives.

I was inspired to join forces with Tess by my desire to create a life of meaning both in my personal and professional life. I spent over a decade running hotel operations and I loved it, yet I knew there was a more sustainable and creative way to live my life.

Tess spent over 25 years leading in ministry and while she was in graduate school, she was offered a life-changing experience to join one of her professors to travel the world and coach executives. After he retired, Tess was inspired to start TC&A and continue supporting her clients, as well as embrace her entrepreneurism to grow her business.

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?

We have had many positive experiences with people who have influenced our leadership and supported our success. We both agree, foundationally, our family is our greatest support and encouragement. They support us relationally and they support us in meaningful and tangible ways within our business. We can count on them for sound business advice, support in collaboration whether it be in marketing, editing or brainstorming ideas, and encouragement through being great listeners. They are always willing to celebrate our success with us, too!

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?

Mistakes happen when there is a lack of alignment and strong foundation. We’ve learned a lot about who to partner with in business and who to collaborate with when we are working on big projects. We understand that our leadership style and approach may not be for everyone, which we are ok with. As we’ve learned in challenging partnerships, it is best to align with those that are committed to building a strong foundation for the business model for both the present and the future.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Aristotle’s quote “Choice, not chance determines your destiny,” is always one of our favorites and Tess quotes it in her book, The Leadership Blueprint: Becoming The Architect of Your Life & Work.

We love this quote because we are aligned with the mindset that you are the leader of yourself, first and foremost. When we lead ourselves well, we can trust the outcomes that we experience, are meant for us.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

We’re excited to be launching The Engagement Blueprint this fall. The TC&A Engagement Blueprint is a valuable on-boarding resource that will enrich your company culture, empower individual employees within their roles and enhance leadership development.

The blueprint is designed for organizational leadership, managers, human resources teams and employees. Whether employees have worked together for a period of time or are just entering into the new work space, The Engagement Blueprint will create positive energy, momentum and synergy.

With the high cost of turnover, we understand how crucial employee retention is. This in-depth training provides: a growth mindset, communication skills, alignment with others, confidence and intentionality, which ultimately leads to success within teams!

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?

We lead with Integrity in everything we do. Our character is the foundation of who we are, and we always seek to support our clients in what is of the best interest to them and their businesses.

Being Trustworthy is a character cornerstone for us. As coaches and consultants, having strong listening skills is pivotal to the success of our clients and for us. When we listen fully, we are able to be trustworthy and lead with our best intent.

Having a Growth Mindset is a non-negotiable. We are always willing to grow and be who we need to be to support our clients. We believe all leaders are learners, so that goes for us too!

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of burnout?

We have two key examples of burnout. I was a competitive gymnast for over 15 years growing up then launched into a fast paced, high energy career in hospitality for over a decade. I absolutely loved it and I thrived. Yet, I burnout out completely at age 31. I hit rock bottom and was drained to my core emotionally, physically and financially. I knew there was a more sustainable way to live my life and do what I love. I pivoted and connected with my mother, Tess, in a new way through working together. Then since the beginning of 2020, I have been working with former colleagues in the hospitality industry and have been supporting them to overcome burnout and sustain their energy throughout the pandemic.

Tess was a wife and full-time working mom within a high level non-profit organization. She was involved with both my brother and I in school, sports, friends and church activities. She never said, “No” to an opportunity and found herself burned-out in her late 30’s. It was a time for self-reflection, healing and creating a new path and life for herself. From there, she entered into graduate school and began a new career with her growth mindset and managing her energy far differently than before.

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?

Burnout is a complete depletion of energy or strength –mentally, physically and/or emotionally.

How would you define or describe the opposite of burnout?

Having sustainable energy that you create from within you to support yourself and allow yourself to live a life of meaning.

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?

“Soldiering on” or “Grinning and bearing it” are past generational phrases that, we too, bought in to. We know from both our own experience and those that we coach, that being mindfully self-aware and learning to take good care of ourselves, first, is the most sustainable way to live. That is going to look different for everyone. For us, taking good care of ourselves first looks like: getting enough rest every night, staying hydrated, meditating, self-reflection through journaling, leaning into supportive relationships, being out in nature and spending time with our family.

From your experience, perspective, or research, what are the main causes of burnout?

Burnout is caused by having too high of expectations on our own energy level. When we aren’t mindfully aware of our energy level, and how to manage it, burnout becomes inevitable.

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.)

We coach and encourage others to create a life that is meaningful from the inside — out, instead of putting the focus on creating a life that looks amazing from the outside, external perspective, but from the inside, doesn’t have the strong foundation to be supported.

We utilize TC&A’s 5 C’s of Leadership to support overcoming or preventing burnout:

Character — who you are matters, you take your character with you everywhere you go. Invest in your core values, identify what is meaningful to you and be a person who does what you say you will do.

Use your Competencies to support yourself. Let your strengths be an encouragement to your day to day. Focus on what you can learn more of and what you may need to unlearn in order to experience the outcomes that are the most meaningful to you.

Be Consistent. Consistency can be one of the most difficult things to do, but the more we can find what actions work for us, we can experience marginal gains one percent at a time. And often times, much more than one percent at a time!

Be open to Creatively building relationships. Leaning into relationships that can encourage, come alongside and build you up is necessary to sustaining energy. We weren’t meant to lead alone!

Understand that Confidence can ebb and flow yet when you know we are a person of integrity, you know your strengths, you’re being consistent and you’re leaning into relationships that support you — you can be confident in everything you do.

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to help someone they care about reverse burnout?

We encourage those experiencing burnout to go inward because we believe everything begins within. The more you slow down and take the time to do the inner reflection, the more you will benefit both internally and externally. Building the internal foundation will support your work and life in every way.

What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?

Open the burnout conversation and normalize it. It’s not a badge of honor to be burnt out anymore. People need to feel heard and then make adjustments, sometimes individually and sometimes as a team or company as a whole.

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?

Start with the mindset that burnout is a reality. If employers aren’t of this mindset… then we can start to think in ways that support and care for employees. One of the best ways to support employees is to offer leadership coaching so that they feel supported to.

The reality is, successful people who sustain their energy have a coach of some kind in their life. Coaching supports all of the 1% shifts to move ourselves in and through life, especially in the challenging times.

Focus on the 1% shifts that allows you to be better today…. tomorrow and so on. Incrementally we can look at the 1% marginal gains. If you don’t have support that 1% marginal gains is enough then you’re going to stay in the mindset that you’re never doing enough which is a symptom of burnout.

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?

Denying the burnout and accepting the busy, the chaos, the overbooking, etc.

In order to avoid those mistakes we need to stop placing the focus on what can fulfill us externally and start doing the work to be fulfilled from the inside — out.

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.

Who you are matters. Care for yourself first, so you can ultimately care for others and bring value to everything you do.

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 🙂

We’d love to lunch with Maria Shriver. Her vision, tenacity and mindset approach to business and life is aligned with ours and we value her contribution to the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: Tess Cox & Associates

LinkedIn: Tess Cox & Associates

Instagram: @coachtesscoxandassociates

Facebook: Tess Cox & Associates

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!

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