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Season 4 - Episode 12:

Bridging the Burnout Gap with Emily Thompson

Bridging the Burnout Gap with Emily Thompson

Episode Summary

Emily Thompson has the ultimate glow-up story: she bought her first business when she was just 18, launched a successful Etsy store while still in college, built a web design agency, launched a podcast, and then…burned out like so many entrepreneurs do. Her present-day success comes from cultivating a post-burnout mindset that works for her: she’s now the founder and CEO of Almanac Supply Co., and she still runs her amazing Being Boss podcast. Today, we talk about letting go, business besties, and jumping back into business.

Episode Notes

Emily Thompson’s experience starting the Being Boss podcast in 2015 is a strong argument for why you should always plan for success. She and her “business bestie” Kathleen Shannon started the podcast as a way of taking the conversations they were having about their businesses and being entrepreneurs into the public realm—and if they happened to promote their respective branding agency and web design shop in the meantime, well then, hey: that’s a bonus! 

But a few months in and they were already getting ads. A little while later, they casually launched getaway events like the Being Boss Vacation and signed a book deal. The podcast was taking on a life of its own. 

Emily was already a successful web designer: she had gotten her start with her Etsy store, having fallen in love with the idea of selling handmade things online. It was during this time that she became “enamored with branding,” and diving deep into who she was serving and why they should care about her business. Eventually, she took her expertise and passion to other business people. She graduated from offering pointers on online banners to running Indie Shopography, her web design agency for more than a decade.

So when it came time to launch Being Boss, it was a bit of a lark. “We had no business plan. We were just starting a podcast.” Emily and Kathleen went through the usual steps they’d take with any client—from the name, branding, website, and content buckets—but initially, they didn’t plan to monetize their passion project. 

Their sudden success may sound amazing, but Emily cautions that it was “actually overwhelming.” The two of them experimented with a lot of different business tactics when they were building up the podcast, looking to see “what would stick.” Things weren’t always easy-breezy: their foray into Facebook Ads was a colossal failure, so bad they didn’t even do their customary postmortem. (Emily files aspects of their experiments under “what worked, what kind of worked, what didn’t work,” taking lessons from each. “It’s how we iterate and do the work we need to do to make the next time we do it even better.”)

And then: burnout struck. Emily says that the rush of opportunities on the podcast side, plus some setbacks in her personal life and other business, led to a feeling of burnout. For Emily, burnout felt like “Ew.” She found herself getting angry and listless when it came to work topics. “I was very much not myself.” 

“For a while, we thought we were going to shut Being Boss down. We were both so tired.” She set a date, and promised herself that if her homebrew remedies didn’t work by then, she’d get a therapist (and she did); she learned to recognize the way she felt leading up to a depressive episode (“a very deep tiredness”), and she shifted her priorities, giving herself more time. But the major solution for Emily wasn’t to walk away—it was to invest more deeply. While her co-host and partner Kathleen wasn’t ready to leave her day job, Emily wanted to go all-in. “Our solution for mutual burnout wasn’t the same solution.” 

Almanac Supply Co. started in 2018 because she found her podcast convos were starting to verge on the meta. “It didn’t sit well for me to show up as someone who knows business, but the only business I’m running is this podcast.” She thought back to her time as a web designer; she always “really envied” the folks who were working on product businesses. Pivoting to something nature-focused, hands-on and family-oriented—she even makes the candles with her partner—gives her a sense of purpose, and offering beautiful handmade items brings her back to her Etsy days, albeit with a major glow-up. “I get to show up and be the CEO.”


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