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A podcast host left his senior tech job to fight the dangers of hustle culture. Here’s his advice for success.

April 4, 2022, 9:57 PM UTC
Young businesswoman working with headache
Hustle culture is killing us.
Getty Images

Case Kenny, who spent 8 years as a senior sales director at tech firm Amobee, called it quits at the end of 2021 to turn his passion project into a full-time gig.

His mission? Help workers lead better lives amid The Great Resignation, and educate them on preventing burnout and health issues related to work stress.

Since July 2021, at least 4 million Americans have quit their jobs each month, sparking fears of mass burnout among those left behind as they’re forced to take on the load of ex-employees. 

But reducing burnout is not just on employers, according to Kenny, who is a mindfulness expert and the host of the top Apple 100 podcast “New Mindset, Who Dis?”.

The problems of hustle culture

Kenny told Fortune that the hustle culture popular with Gen Z and millennials is contributing to millions of people burning out at work. 

“Hustle Culture” refers to the relentless pursuit of striving goals by self-sacrifice and working tirelessly long hours, a concept that was romanticized by social media and business icons like Gary Vaynerchuk and Grant Cardone, who boasted about working 95-hour weeks. 

“Most people work 9-to-5. I work 95 hours [per week]. If you ever want to be a millionaire, you need to stop doing the 9-to-5 and start doing 95,” Cardone famously said.

The popularity of hustle culture has led to people putting unrealistic pressure on themselves, says Kenny. 

“I think it’s the expectations we have built on ourselves: that we have to produce today to live the life we want tomorrow and when we don’t get the results, we get frustrated,” Kenny said.

The human cost of work stress

According to a survey by thefineryreport across various industries, 60% of respondents felt guilty if they didn’t put in extra hours at work, while almost 70% of them confessed to working regularly on weekends.

And the implications of this “always on” mentality are more than dire. 

Management guru Jeffrey Pfeffer says that work is the fifth leading cause of death in America.  

“In total, workplace environments in the United States may be responsible for 120,000 excess deaths per year,” he writes in his book Dying for a Paycheck.

The research to back this accusation is compelling. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed that working 61 to 70 hours a week increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 42%.

Other serious consequences include anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

So, how do you identify and prevent burnout?

The biggest sign of burnout is apathy, according to Kenny.

“When you start thinking ‘what’s the point?’, that’s when you should take a step back,” he said.

Knowing when to draw the line and practice self-care can be difficult for ambitious people. 

“We think that a happy life comes from a perfect life and a perfect life comes from every success you can imagine, but what I’ve realized is that happiness comes from perfect moments and along the way to getting to wherever you want, you do have perfect moments,” Kenny said in a recent interview with Fortune.

Instead of chasing after bigger and better goals, Kenny encourages people to practice gratitude and credit themselves for small wins that are otherwise taken for granted like acing a presentation or being appreciated by your boss. 

“The good part is the part we choose to be the good part,” Kenny said.

What employers can do to prevent burnout

Most recently, companies have been giving employees sabbaticals to relieve burnout and curb The Great Resignation. 

But Kenny, who has had several corporate clients like Soho House and Lynn University, thinks employers, especially those at the management level, should focus on practicing “individualized” empathy towards workers.

“It’s not just that we are all human but that we are all different humans. Everyone has different whys and employers need to understand the different degrees of humanness in all people,” Kenny said. “You can’t expect a CEO to have the same incentive and same why as a junior account executive.”