Episode 63 - How to Successfully Manage Stress As An Entrepreneur

How to Successfully Manage Stress As An Entrepreneur

As business owners, stress can wreak havoc on our health, both mentally and physically. Whether we admit it or not, stress can significantly impact our performance and productivity. Today we are speaking with Professor Pete Alexander - Stress Relief Specialist. He is going to show us How to Successfully Manage Stress As An Entrepreneur.

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How to Successfully Manage Stress As An Entrepreneur



Tim Fitzpatrick
As business owners, stress can wreak havoc on our health, both mentally and physically, whether we admit it or not, stress can significantly impact our performance and our productivity. That's why today we're going to dig into with our special guest how to successfully manage stress as an entrepreneur. Hi, I'm Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe marketing shouldn't be difficult. All you need is the right plan. I am super excited to have with me today Professor Pete Alexander from Professor Pete Stress Management Tools. Pete, welcome and thanks for taking the time.

Pete Alexander
Tim, thank you so much for having me on the show. And I really appreciate your listeners tuning in as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Absolutely. Well, it's nice to switch seats because I was on your podcast, I don't know, a month or two ago. So thank you for coming on and spending some time with us today.

Pete Alexander
Oh, it's pleasure's all mine.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. So we're going to get started with some rapid-fire questions just to help us get to know you a little bit better. Are you ready to rock this?

Pete Alexander
Let's do it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
OK, when you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Pete Alexander
Probably hiking. I live in the Pacific Northwest and it's got fantastic hiking trails and when it's raining it does a lot out there it's watching movies with my wife.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. What's your hidden talent?

Pete Alexander
I have a mental database of hundreds of jokes that I can bring into a conversation based on a certain keyword that I hear. So it's funny because people say, oh, you know, can you just tell me a joke? Tell me a joke and that's not funny. But if I hear a particular keyword and I think this is going to be a good joke.

Tim Fitzpatrick
OK, I love it. I can honestly say I've never heard anybody give that same hidden talent.

Pete Alexander
So that is unique.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes, very unique. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Pete Alexander
That would be - be kind. That's why I have that background.

Tim Fitzpatrick
OK. I love it.

Pete Alexander
You know, there's too much negativity in the world and even a simple random act of kindness like, you know, sending a message to someone taking a minute before you start your day, a text, an email just saying, hey, you know, I wanted to thank you for something you did for me at work or, you know, I'm just thinking of you that has a huge, huge benefit to the person who is receiving it. And in most cases, that person will respond back. And that gives you a jolt of positivity as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. And I don't want to go too far down a sidetrack here. But I'm going to share a story because I totally agree with you on this. When this was probably five to six years ago, our girls were four or five-ish at the time. My wife was in Costco walking them around. And this guy came up to her and just said, you know, oh, you know, you have beautiful girls. They grew up so fast and my wife said, how old are yours?

Tim Fitzpatrick
And he was like twenty-three and twenty-five. And it seems like yesterday they were that age. So, you know, don't blink, don't miss it. Live in the moment. And such a seemingly trivial conversation. My wife brings that up all the time, and is just stuck in her head. And she was like, yeah, gosh, I'm so thankful that he took the time to stop and communicate that to me.

Pete Alexander
It's so good. And having a parent of twenty-six, twenty-four and a 20-year-old, I can tell you that I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Yeah. So even holding the door for somebody can make a huge difference and you'll never even know it.

Pete Alexander
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, the funny thing is, is that there's been times where I'm holding the door and then a whole bunch of people just start walking in and most of them don't even thank you.And it's like, OK, don't do it for the thanks. Do it because you want to do it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that's it. Awesome. So be kind people. What's one thing about you that surprises people?

Pete Alexander
Well, this is one that I'm still hunting for. Whoever else can lay claim to this. So I have a 100 percent blood sibling, my sister, my older sister. And she is from a different marriage because my parents married, had my sister, got divorced, my dad remarried, got divorced. Then my mom and dad got married again, had me, got divorced. And then they continue to have other marriages. So my parents all told had oh God. What was it? Nine marriages, seven divorces, a couple of weddings, you know.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Oh my God.

Pete Alexander
So but my sister and I 100 percent blood siblings but from two different marriages.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Oh my gosh. Yeah. OK, I've never talked to anybody that the state claim to that either.

Pete Alexander
Hey, I'm two for two now.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's awesome. Well, it's not awesome that your parents had to go through so many divorces and then back and I can't even imagine. So what does success mean to you?

Pete Alexander
For me, it's making a positive difference in others, whether that is working with them directly, whether it's having them on my podcast and helping them promote themselves, whether it's making that, you know, being kind and just making that one positive impression on them, whatever it is, it's just it's at the end of the day for me, I've always imagined that I'm going to be cremated. So I'm not going to have a tombstone. But if I have a tombstone, it would be he made a positive difference.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, cool. I love it. Now, OK, so since you said you're going to be cremated, do you know where you want your ashes spread?

Pete Alexander
Yeah, they're right. Now, my choice would be there's a beautiful, huge lake called Lake Crescent that's about an hour and a half drive from me from where I live. That's where I would have my ashes.

Tim Fitzpatrick
OK, cool. Where's your happy place? Outside Lake crescent.

Pete Alexander
Outside of Lake Crescent. There's beautiful mountains around. And so, you know, as I said, I'm a hiker and so basically the top of a peaceful mountain. And so if you could see here, the mountains are my happy place.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Damn, man. The more I talk to you, the more I realize we have all kinds of similarities.

Pete Alexander
Oh, yeah. Living in Colorado, I can only imagine you get to do those 14000 peaks if you really want to hike, hike a high place.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that's my mountains are my happy place. My only challenge is my wife's happy place is the beach. So I got a lot of work to do here.

Pete Alexander
You know what? You and I are a lot more alike than you think, because the same thing with my wife, you know, she says, let's go to the beach. And if there's any kind of hike that has some climbing at it, she says, yeah, go ahead, have fun.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What qualities do you value in people with whom you spend time?

Pete Alexander
You know, humor, obviously. You've probably got a sense of that already. Yes, that's a huge one for me. Another one is reliability. You know, if they say they're going to do something, do it. So so reliability, dependability and, you know, be present in a conversation. One thing that really is something that irks me is when the phone takes precedence over or takes priority. Over the person that's sitting right in front of you, that that, you know, that's just something that never, never is something I like.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Pete, thanks for sharing, I learned all kinds of things about you. Tell us a little bit more before we get into talking about stress management. Tell us a little bit more about, you know, your background and how you're helping people. Now, I know you were a corporate marketer for a long time. How the heck did you get into stress relief?

Pete Alexander
Yeah, I mean, it's kind of a different thing. So it probably, you know, as we were talking about all the different divorces and stuff, you can imagine that stress and I have had a long history together. And it wasn't until 2008 when it finally started bubbling up as something that I, you know, that was affecting me physically and mentally.

Pete Alexander
And, you know, if you think about there's all of us can probably appreciate a time in our life when we were both mentally and emotionally overwhelmed. And a big time for that for me was back in 2008. My dad was dying and he needed all of his affairs to be taking care of. My mom separately was having major surgery and her insurance didn't cover much in the physical therapy. And so she needed care herself. And I was running a business that had 20 employees that needed my attention. I had my kids that were small at that time and needed my attention. And oh, yeah, by the way, my marriage was heading for a divorce. So needless to say, there was a lot on my.

Pete Alexander
Oh yeah. That's all that was on my shoulders and all of a sudden, boom, you know, right before I get diagnosed with stress-induced diabetes, I lost 30 pounds in 30 days. And at first, I thought, wow, this is fantastic. I'm in my mid-forties. I haven't lost weight easily for so long. And all of a sudden the weight was just coming off. I'm thinking, this is great. I'm eating whatever the heck I want.

Pete Alexander
I'm not doing any any different exercise than I was doing before. But after that thirtieth pound came off, I thought, I better check this out. And sure enough, stress-induced diabetes. The problem, though, is, is that I was too busy with what I had going on and so I didn't listen to my body about what stress was doing to it.

Pete Alexander
And so what ended up happening was I kept burning the candle at both ends for another 10 years until I ended up in the emergency room with a severe case of diabetic ketoacidosis. And for those listeners who may not know what that is, in layman's terms, my body was eating itself alive because of my stress.

Pete Alexander
And the doctor said that had my wife not brought me into the hospital at that time, I was about an hour or so away from being comatose. And so then I spent several days in ICU and on my second day in ICU, I got a text at about six a.m. from my boss at the time. And my boss says, you have a webinar you need to run at eight o'clock, what are you going to do about it?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Oh my God, are you serious?

Pete Alexander
I'm not kidding you. And of course, she knew that I was in the hospital. And so, first of all, I did not have my work laptop with me. Surprise, surprise in the ICU. I had my phone and I started trying to reschedule the webinar. Right. And so when I was admitted into the hospital, my blood glucose numbers were so high that the medical-grade glucometer could not read it. It just said hi. And so at this point, my numbers had come down into more reasonable levels.

Pete Alexander
But as soon as I started trying to reschedule this webinar, you know, they were checking my blood every half an hour to an hour. And the nurse on on on call at that point, she comes over, she checks my blood and she can see that my numbers just did a 90-degree turn and they were skyrocketing again. And she says a matter of factly, she just says, you realize that's what put you in pointing at my phone. That's what put you in this hospital bed in the first place. And that was the epiphany moment that I needed, you know, it was a complete stranger who just a matter of factly says to me that you are trading your health for your career and that is a very bad trade.

Tim Fitzpatrick
She cared enough to say something about it, too.

Pete Alexander
Exactly. And so, you know, I basically spent the rest of that day really thinking about it, what I was doing. And then I got out the next day from the hospital. And the day after that I resigned. And you know, I started just applying a whole bunch of different stress relief tools and techniques to try and get my health back. And the rest is, you know, is history.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's a heck of a story, Pete. Yeah. Gosh. And Jesus, people if you have employees that are going through that, read the back of Pete's background here. If you're watching this, if you're listening, it says be kind, have some empathy. My God, that is how out of touch can one person be? That is crazy.

Pete Alexander
It is. It is. But you know what? That that's the problem is that, you know, there's a lot of managers out there that are micromanagers and they are micromanagers because they have a problem trusting their people. And if they don't trust their people, they feel like they have to micromanage instead of saying, OK, you know what?

Pete Alexander
And this was a new manager. You know she had just come to the company literally two months previously and she was trying to prove herself, etc. So I get that. But, you know, you should come from the basis of trusting your people until you can't instead of don't trust your people, until they go through all these different hoops and slowly gain your trust that, you know, that's what you're going to lose your people if you do that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So you're your story kind of led into this first topic we were going to talk about, which is really what's the worst thing that can happen if you don't deal with your stress effectively? You know, I think you've pointed out here the mind body connection is a real thing. And it's man, it's amazing how strong it is. But do you have anything to add to that? I mean, obviously, for you, you know, it puts you in the hospital and you almost died. You could have died from it. Anything else you want to add to this topic?

Pete Alexander
Yeah. So my story is one, let me tell you about my friend Ken. Ken and I, we met in high school. We were best friends there. After high school, we supported each other first as best man at each other's weddings. We supported each other as fathers. And then you fast forward 30 years. Ken was struggling in both his personal and professional life, and he, too, ended up in the emergency room. But in his case, it was with intestinal cancer and the doctors had to move over two-thirds of his intestines and then he had to undergo a very, very hard chemotherapy regimen.

Pete Alexander
And so he would have chemotherapy for three weeks and then he'd have a week off. And so when he'd have his week off, we'd either talk on the phone or, you know, in person. And every conversation we had, Ken would tell me he was absolutely convinced that stress caused his cancer. And two weeks before his forty-ninth birthday, Ken passed away because of his disease.

Pete Alexander
And stress got the best of him. So, you know, I'm lucky because I'm still alive. I realized after I went through physical burnout that stress is a real thing. But some people don't they don't get that opportunity. And so I really, really emphasize to people that, you know, there's there's good stress and there's bad stress. Good stress is something that it's OK for us to have because. It's a term called eustress EU USTR says that is the kind of stress that helps us get things done when we're working on stuff that we're passionate about, we're excited about. That's the kind of stress that's totally fine.

Pete Alexander
What we really want to avoid is the negative stress that usually comes in in two different flavors, either one ruminating about something in the past, either something that we're guilty about, either doing or not doing. The problem is things in the past we can't do anything about. So why spend so much energy letting it churn negatively inside of you? And the other negative stress that we should try and avoid is the anxiety about something in the future that may or may not happen.

Pete Alexander
The problem is when we really worry about something in our future that is going to potentially happen, but not necessarily happen. Chances are what's going to happen if we keep on worrying about an exact negative outcome. Chances are we are going to manifest that negative outcome. But instead, if we can just be in the present, you know, if we can remove that anxiety about the future and the rumination about the past, all other stress, it will not negatively affect us. But those two those will. And unfortunately, too many of us focus on that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, it seems like those two are really related also because we're focusing on things that we can't control, whether it's in the past. I can't change it. I can't control it in the future. Well, I have no I can't control that either. The one thing that always stuck with me and I can't remember where I heard it, it was a quote about, you know, worrying about things in the future. And it's like, look, most of the things that we worry about happening in the future never actually happen. So why are we worrying about them? It's like deal with it when it comes up, but don't worry about it.

Pete Alexander
Yeah. And it's a really good point that you talk about what we can and can't control. It's one of my favorite techniques that I recommend to people because as humans, we will stress about all aspects about a situation. But if we really think about it as two different lists, the things we can control and the things we can't control, and if we can focus as much attention as possible on what we can control, what we can affect, change in our stress level goes way, way down.

Pete Alexander
Because when we feel like we're in control, when we can affect change, we're making a difference. But if we spend so much wasted energy on what we can't control, it's just going to waste that energy and it's not going to go do anything other than give us additional stress.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, yeah, I love it. So I want to talk about your book a little bit. First off, just tell us the name of your book, but then give us some tidbits here of what we can expect to see and how you're helping people with what's in the book.

Pete Alexander
Sure. It's called Lighten Your Day. And LIGHTEN is a seven-letter acronym for my research where I found that we generate most of our stress from. Because, you know, if the listeners haven't gotten a sense of this yet, the fact is most of our stress is self-induced. We do it to ourselves.

Pete Alexander
You know, like, for example, the boss who sent me that text at six o'clock in the morning, I could have just put it aside. But instead I responded and started trying to fix things. So I did it to myself. All right. So the thing is, is that the light model stands for your livelihood or your career. The I stands for your imagination or your conscious mind, which is only five percent of your brain. But it's where your inner critic lies.

Pete Alexander
The G stands for genius or your unconscious mind and your unconscious mind is running your body 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's where your memories are stored, your habits are formed, your perception of the world lies. But it's where real change happens, because if you change in your unconscious mind, that's going to change in your life overall, then the H is for your your health, which, as we've discussed before, that without your health, nothing else matters, really.

Pete Alexander
T stands for the time you have available. E stands for your environment because you've got to make sure that your environment is supportive of your stress relief efforts and the N stands for your network of relationships because the people in your life matter and when you're stressed you're less likely to. Have empathy, you know, listen to them, etc. So you don't want to take the important people in your life for granted.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. So, light, livelihood, your imagination, genius, which is your unconscious mind, your health, your time, your environment, which is certainly impacting your stress and then your network and relationships.

Pete Alexander
You got it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's awesome.

Pete Alexander
And then inside the book, each of those seven have several very quick and easy techniques that you can utilize to to help you reduce your stress. And it's all about when I was doing my research, I found that most of the books out there, what they do is they it's a two, three hundred page book on, you know, one technique or something in theory. And the reality is most of us, when we are stressed, we don't have much time. We need something to try right away. And what I found is if you can find one or two techniques that help you run with those.

Pete Alexander
You know, spend a minute or two each day doing those because the compound benefits over time will be enormous. You just got to start today.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Yeah. That's so interesting. So I'm going to try and relate this to marketing. So there's all kinds of techniques out there for stress management. There are all kinds of marketing channels and tactics. One of the things we always talk about is you don't need to be in every marketing channel to be successful. So don't feel like you have to do everything. And you're saying the same thing here with stress. It's like, look, you don't have to do all these different stress management tactics. You just need to find those less than a handful that work for you that you can build a habit around. And that's going to help you get to where you need to be. I understand that, correct?

Pete Alexander
That's correct. So you're in and when you say that habit, as we talked about your unconscious mind, that's where your habits are formed. And so if you make a new habit in your unconscious mind, you will see real change.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, once it's a habit, it's not work anymore. You don't even have to think about it. You just do.

Pete Alexander
Exactly. Exactly. It's autopilot.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. OK, so let's run through let's run through one of these stress relief techniques.

Pete Alexander
Yeah. So it's good. You know, you mentioned about marketing, Tim, and so, you know, marketing, we often our stress is around maybe doing a presentation, an important presentation or let's say having a difficult conversation with somebody. Those two are things that are often very important in the marketing realm. So one technique that I absolutely love is a technique called Hakalau. And Hakalau is a light meditation that comes from the Hawaiian culture.

Pete Alexander
And it's really great, greatly suited for calming you before a perceived stressful event, like an important presentation or a difficult conversation. So what you do is go ahead and pick a spot in your office right now, something stationary and preferably something above eye level, nothing that's going to strain your neck, but something that's slightly above your level. And take a look at that and start focusing on it.

Pete Alexander
And as you stare at this spot. Just let your mind go loose. And focus all of your attention on that spot. And notice that within a matter of moments, your vision begins to spread out and you see more in your peripheral than you do in the central part of your vision. Start paying attention to the peripheral. In fact, pay more attention to the peripheral than the central part of your vision. And stay in this state. And notice.

Pete Alexander
That it has a calming effect on you. And now close your eyes and open your eyes, come back into the present and notice that you're more calm, you're more grounded and you're more aware of your surroundings and better prepared to take on that challenging event.

Tim Fitzpatrick
We need to put a disclaimer on this episode of Driving while listening to that.

Pete Alexander
Exactly. Yeah.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Pull over.

Pete Alexander
Yeah. So you definitely don't want to do it until, you know, if you're driving a car, obviously, or you're walking or something because that's why it's a stationary spot. And if you see you can do that anywhere. So like let's say you are just parked your car and you're about to go into maybe a sales presentation or something like that. If you can just do that from your car right beforehand, you're just calming yourself because we just wind ourselves up, you know, again, talking about that anxiety that we were talking about earlier. You wind yourself up and it's just, you know, it's ridiculous what we do to ourselves. But this is something that helps ground us. And it works like a charm.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that's so interesting. And that was quick. You know, one minute. One minute, while I was staring at the light ahead of me, I was thinking about the fact that I'm doing this on live video. But it was it was even though I knew in the background, we're sitting here doing this interview, it was still calming. So that was awesome. I love it.

Pete Alexander
I'm glad you liked it because, you know, the thing is, it's something that, you know, especially when you say marketing. That's before the first one I think about, because God knows how many presentations I made in my career.

Tim Fitzpatrick
This has been fantastic. I really appreciate you sharing your story, you know, and really opening up about that and giving us some great techniques and just some things to think about. I mean, because the mind-body connection really is so, so strong. And if we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of anybody else. We can't help anybody else. Super, super important. Do you have any last-minute words of wisdom or thoughts you want to share with us?

Pete Alexander
Sure. You know, obviously, as we talked about the beginning, be kind, be kind of others, be kind to yourself. That is so, so important. But also you mentioned it. You know, listen to your mind and body about the early warning signs of stress. If you're finding that your back is hurting, your shoulders are tight, maybe you're reaching for the extra bottle more often than you normally would or you're having trouble focusing. Those things are early warnings of stress and take note of those and do something to take care of yourself self-care, because, without your health, nothing else matters.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, awesome. Where can people learn more about you? Obviously, from this conversation, you have more than proved that you know what you're talking about. You've experienced it yourself. So if people are having a tough time managing their stress, they need some help. Obviously, I highly recommend you reach out to Professor Pete. Where should they go?

Pete Alexander
They should just go to petealexander.com. They'll find my blog that has over a hundred different techniques that they can try. Almost all of them take five minutes or less to give a try to. And, you know, they can also reach out to me via the website if they'd like to have a live discussion with me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. So petealexander.com, and that's A-L-E-X-A-N-D-E-R. Pete, thanks so much for taking the time. I really do appreciate it. I have learned a ton, as I normally do in these conversations, so I appreciate that. Thank you to those who are tuning in, listening, watching. If you want to gain clarity on where to focus your marketing efforts right now to get the best return, hop on over to our website at rialtomarketing.com. That's R-I-A-L-T-O marketing.com. Click on the get a free console button guarantee you'll get a ton of value and walk away with some clarity on where you need to focus right now. Thank you so much. Till next time, take care.


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About the Author Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Marketing. At Rialto Marketing, we help service businesses simplify marketing so they can grow with less stress. We do this by creating and implementing a plan to communicate the right message to the right people. Marketing shouldn't be difficult. All you need is the RIGHT plan.

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