Avery – 00:01

Hi, I’m Avery Thatcher, a former ICU nurse, and this is not your standard stress management podcast where we just focus on those band-aid solutions like the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and self-care.

You already know that you need some kind of recovery strategy to deal with your stressful life.

But what you may not know are all of the sneaky ways that society, our upbringing and our high achieving nature and so many other factors contribute to our risk of burnout.

That, my friend, is what we talk about here on this podcast because you can’t do something about a situation that you’re not aware of, right?

So if you’re ready to get out of the pattern of burning out, feeling better, only to burn out again, it’s time for us to shed the light on the truth about burnout.

Alright friends, I am very excited to hear from Joan today and for her to share her burnout story with us because she comes from a really unique background.

And I think it’s something that we all kind of know is hard on some level, but we don’t truly understand how hard it is to be in this industry.


Avery – 01:08

So I’m really excited to learn a little bit more about that.

So welcome, Joan.


Joan – 01:12

Thank you so much for having me today.


Avery – 01:16

Yeah, I’m very excited to hear about this.

So why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and what you do, how that really makes, like how it’s in alignment with your high achiever.


Joan – 01:27


Currently, I am a restaurant, independent restaurant coach.

I help them set up systems and really figure out how to run their restaurant the way they always dreamed it would be.

And I help them build strong teams.

I have, I emphasize teamwork a lot in what I do because you cannot run a restaurant without teamwork.

I have been in restaurants and hospitality my entire life.

I worked every industry, I mean, every department in a restaurant.


Joan – 02:09

I was a host.

I was a busser.

I waited tables, trained, opened new restaurants, did all that stuff.

I, Owned my own restaurant and during the big recession in 2008, we shut down and moved to the Midwest where I have been managing in hotels.

I earned a degree.

During that time when I moved to the Midwest as well and now I just found I just I have a very big heart when it comes to independent restaurant owners since I have been there myself.

I know how much hard work it is and I just want to do everything I can to help.


Avery – 02:55

So that’s what I’m doing now.

I love it.

So I feel like burnout is just rampant in the restaurateur space because it’s sure you’re growing your business and like any other business owner you know it’s so important to you it’s we call it like our baby we’re really dedicated to it but with a restaurant it’s different.

Can you explain to me how different it is?


Joan – 03:23

Well, there’s a multitude of reasons why it’s different.

One of the biggest reasons why it’s different than other businesses is that it’s immediate stress.

You have to answer a complaint immediately right now on the spot, fix it, turn over that bad experience, right?

You have, sure, you had all these reservations that you could handle at one time, but now 20 people just showed up at the door and they want to be seated too.

So there’s this immediate stress.

So it’s not like where some businesses, you’re stressed out about the paperwork and then you take it home and then you worry about it.

Not that we don’t worry about it, believe me, when you get home, you relive everything.


Joan – 04:15

But it’s just this immediate stuff that tends to build up.

And then with restaurants, it’s all about teamwork.

So you have to have a strong team in place.

And when you don’t, so you’ve got a lot of, well, A bunch of vagabonds.

It’s kind of how I describe restaurant people.

We’re all a little bit different.

Most of the people that work in restaurants, they learn differently than others.


Joan – 04:50

They work with their hands.

They’re all about that immediate stress and getting through that moment and moment to moment living.

This is the kind of people that work in the restaurant industry.

It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.

You know, make, you know, having to feed 50 people, having to get all that food out all at the same time, you know, it’s just it’s this immediate stress.

So it’s a different kind of people that work in the restaurant industry.

And since they’re vagabonds, they’re not used to being stuck on a schedule.


Joan – 05:27

So they just nowadays, especially, oh, you know, I’m not going to be there today.

So You end up dealing with having to fill in a lot.

And when you’re a restaurant owner or manager, you end up filling a lot of shoes just because the industry is it’s, it’s a low margin industry.

You don’t make loads of dough on it.

You’ve got to really love what you’re doing.

And so you have to keep your margins low, which means not huge staffs.

So you end up filling in.


Joan – 06:06

A lot if you don’t have a good strong team.


Avery – 06:12

And it sounds really like the perfect recipe for burnout because you have this baseline level of stress and pressure that you’re putting on yourself plus all the little fires that come in all the time every day.

So do you think that kind of showed up for you as a high achiever moving into this industry?


Joan – 06:31

Um, yes, so I mean, like I said, I’ve been in the industry most of my life.

And when I owned my own place, I would go in early.

I found that I needed nobody else to be there so that I could get my paperwork done and get ready for the day.

So I would go in early sometimes, you know, sometimes early, we, we opened for lunch.

So sometimes I would get in about seven and then the first cook would show up around 10, but I would be able to get all my paperwork done and ready for the day and drawers counted or whatever.

And then make sure that the crew members showed up and then and then get through service and maybe have time to eat and then do the paperwork from that shift and then move into the next shift.

And then close through the day and then you’re the last person out so when I first was doing it was just this adrenaline rush and it was something that I got excited about and when I could get this stuff done it felt really good and you know getting through it and There really is nothing like the


Joan – 07:44

high you get when you have a full dining room and you are walking through the dining room and making sure everything’s running and everything’s going great.

And when it is a perfect service, I mean, it is the best high ever.

So, you know, you just it’s that stuff feeds you and helps you stay with it.

Which is very cool and very great, but after years of it or less, it starts to wear on you.

And restaurant owners, as it’s the same with any business owner, we are afraid to let go of our baby because that is our baby.

That’s our baby.

And we don’t trust that someone else Can do as well with it as we can and that is the biggest problem.


Joan – 08:43

It wouldn’t be as bad if it was a 9 to 5 thing, but it’s not a 9 to 5 thing and restaurants never are a 9 to 5 thing.

So yeah, so we end up, you know, in serious trouble.

So I got through owning my restaurant and then we ended up shutting it down.

When we moved after the recession, we moved to the Midwest, I said, I’m never going to work in a restaurant again.

That’s it.

But I just, I love it so much.

I love the industry.


Joan – 09:17

I love meeting new people.

I love talking to the guests and you know, you kind of, you end up having a relationship with these people that you never would have known if you didn’t have a restaurant, but, but you build a relationship with them when they.

I love what you do and continue to come back.

And that is just awesome.

And then when you can build a crew that just fits in so well and you feel like a family, it’s just a great industry.

And then it’s also a very stressful industry.


Multiple speakers – 09:56

So COVID was horrible for all of us.


Avery – 10:02


And so you can feel like you’ve touched on some of the key things there that it’s so fulfilling.

When it’s working.

And so those kinds of things push us forward that fulfillment energy can make it really hard for us to see our physical burnout, our mental burnout, our emotional burnout.

And then we also have that fear of like, I logically know that I should be delegating a little bit more or I need to be Putting more responsibility with the right people, but my body is saying I don’t think so, I can’t let that go.

So it’s kind of those two things that I feel are some of the things that lead to that burnout experience.

So when you were in the thick of this, you had some really interesting ways that your mental and physical burnout showed up.


Avery – 10:48

Can you share about those?


Joan – 10:52

So when it really hit me was COVID.

As I’m sure everyone experienced different amounts of stress.

So I was managing a restaurant, I actually was managing the restaurant and a retail, like a little gourmet market, they were connected.

So I was doing duty in two places, but I had managers, but the burnout One of the managers quit of the restaurant.

So I ended up being the restaurant manager, um, during COVID.

So we, I’m in a, in a vacation area.

And our county did not shut down restaurants.


Joan – 11:40

They restricted how close the seats could be.

And we had a big patio.

So we were able to take people outside.

Everybody wants to sit outside in the summer anyway.

So, um, we were, we stayed open whether we had the crew or not.

um, Navigating that was very difficult.

So I was filling in.


Joan – 12:07

I was a hostess.

I was a server.

I was a bartender.

I was, I would have to jump on the line and help with desserts.

And, you know, I mean, I was in every position and I was washing dishes and realized that my thumbs would not bend.

First, it was just one thumb that wouldn’t bend.

And it was just very bizarre.


Joan – 12:36

My one thumb wouldn’t bend and I couldn’t, I would stare at it and it just wouldn’t bend.

And then I started researching it and found there’s something called trigger finger, trigger finger, trigger thumb.

I think it normally is the index finger, but for me it was my thumb.

And I went to the doctor Um, and it was funny because she goes, so you can’t bend it.

And I’m like, I mean, it’s the weirdest thing when you can’t, you’re like, you know, you don’t even consider having to focus on moving a finger, but so I’m staring at my thumb trying to move it and I couldn’t move it.

And so she goes, she goes like this.

Well, there you go.


Joan – 13:29

And I go, okay.

Now I can’t get it up like I had to do this to move it up.

It was crazy.

So she did give me a shot of a steroid in my thumb.

Because I guess there’s a tendon when there’s a trigger finger, there’s a tendon that they can shoot a steroid in and sometimes it works.

Now the nurse that I talked to when I called to make my appointment said, oh yeah, it usually doesn’t work.

You’re going to have to have surgery.


Joan – 14:01

And I’m like, I think I’m going to do the shot, you know, see if it works.

And it helped a little bit, but then my other thumb also ended up But clearly I can move them now.

I never had to have surgery.

My entire body ached.

I was in so much pain.

My whole body was in pain.

And I also developed a trim where my head shakes sometimes.


Joan – 14:32

And I don’t really know when that’s going to happen.

It just kind of does it.

And I don’t even know it’s happening sometimes.

So all of these things, Started going on while I was dealing with all this COVID and running the restaurant and keeping it open through the horrible experience after COVID, which was trying to find employees.

I mean, it was so difficult, especially in the restaurant industry to get employees after COVID.


Avery – 15:11

Just people who didn’t want to come back.


Joan – 15:14

And the government was subsidizing people, so they would make more money not working than if they came back to work, so they didn’t come to work.


Avery – 15:27

Yeah, that was really common in Canada as well.

The job shortage, even though there was lots of people before COVID.

Where did everybody go?




And so yeah, I really think it’s just so interesting how burnout showed up for you.


Avery – 15:47

When I do talks on this, especially when I go into corporations and talk about burnout, and I share some of the more obscure physical symptoms like locked joints, numbness and tingling, those kinds of feelings, people are like, really?

That’s burnout?

You’re like, Burnout is really a nervous system issue.

It’s an energy management issue.

It’s a not really, can you handle enough stress?

You have to look at it from a bigger picture.

So I think it’s so helpful to hear some of those wacky signs because somebody might be like, I don’t know, I feel fine, but I just can’t bend my thumb.


Avery – 16:24

And then they’ll hear your story and be like, Oh, wait, maybe it’s burnout.


Joan – 16:30


I mean, the thumb thing was so bizarre to me, but my entire body hurts.

And then when my thumbs wouldn’t bend, it was just bizarre.


Avery – 16:40

I was just so mad.


Multiple speakers – 16:41

I can only imagine.


Avery – 16:42


So you obviously recognized that things were not okay and that you wanted to do something different.

So what did you start doing?

What changed to kind of bring you out of that burnout space?


Joan – 16:56

Well, the So even after they gave me the shot, you know, it continued for a while.

And the first thing I did was I actually stopped working for that company, but other than that, there just wasn’t support from my bosses.

So here I was supporting everyone else and they weren’t supporting me.


Avery – 17:21

So I left that job.


Joan – 17:24

But I went to a neurologist about the tremor and the neurologist said you know stress is one of the reasons why it would present like this, that tremor.

And I just, I, I made a decision actually, probably before I went to her, but I made the decision that my health needed to be the number one focus in my life.

I have 20 year old kids.

They’re in their early twenties.

I want to be here for them.

And I want to be here when they have kids.

I want to be part of their lives.


Joan – 18:13

I, Don’t need to be incapacitated because I allowed myself to overdo it, which I have always done my whole life.

I take on everybody else’s issues.

I’m a doer.

I find the answer.

I make it happen.

I some, you know, you want to do this.

Well, let me figure out how we can get that done.


Joan – 18:37

And I take on 100% of the responsibility of Getting you what you need and helping you achieve your goals, which, well, you know, that’s just not a good way to look.

I should take on every the entire world’s problems.

So I had to make health my number one focus.

So when she told me it was stress that helped cause that, I started meditating and journaling daily.

Exercising, so I walk 20 to 30 minutes a day every day.

Now I take yoga classes a couple times a week.

I’m watching what I’m eating.


Joan – 19:26

I mean, I just really, really had to make my health the most important thing in my life.

I mean, So if I’m worried I’m going to lose business, that’s stupid because if I’m not healthy, I’m not going to be able to keep business.

So, I mean, it was, it was, it seems like such common sense, but when you’re just the person who’s constantly going, go, you know.


Avery – 20:00

Yeah, so that’s gonna be my question to you.

For the person that’s listening to this right now that’s saying, yes, Joan, logically I know that I should be making my health a priority, what would you tell them?

What would you say to that person that’s just like, if I know I should?


Joan – 20:16

Guess what?

The world continues to revolve every single day.

Whether you’re showing up where you’re supposed to, where you think you’re supposed to show up or not, That’s the answer.

That’s one of the biggest things.

There were a lot of scary things that happened from COVID, but one of the biggest things that came out of COVID is you need to trust that you’re doing your job so well that the people around you can run your place without you.


So that’s the real, that’s sign of a great manager, right?


Joan – 21:02

The great manager can take some time off because their team can take the ball and run with Absolutely.


Avery – 21:13

And so that is easier said than done.

So why don’t you tell us a little bit more about how they can learn about you and what you do and where they can connect with you?

Because if they’re hearing you and being like, yeah, I’m not a manager, but I need to be like I need to be a better manager for my team.

So how could they reach out to you?


Joan – 21:29

Okay, so you can find me on yourrestaurantmaven.com.

I, I have a blog and I also have a podcast called You Can Do It Too.

But I created a program called Solving Your Restaurant Labor Problems and Saving Your Sanity.

And I it I give people tools and tips.

So if you’re a restaurateur, an independent restaurateur, and you need help with finding labor, which seems to be the world’s problem right now, but I give you some tools and tips to interview right, helping them hire right first time and saving some time that way.

I share some secrets to creating an environment where people want to work and I help Independent restauranteurs build a strong team so that they can step away and they can take care of themselves.

So there is a program that you can get through the website and that’s called solving your restaurant labor problems and saving your sanity.


Joan – 22:37

It’s under programs on my website.

So that’s how you find me.


Avery – 22:41

Sounds great, so we’re going to link to that in the show notes as well.

So is there anything, one little last bit of advice you’d like to give someone that thinks that they might be burnt out listening to this right now?


Joan – 22:51

Yeah, take a deep breath, take a deep breath and know that you have it in you to get through this, but the first thing you have to do is take care of yourself.


Avery – 23:05

Really and truly.

Beautifully said, beautifully said.

Well, thank you so much, Joan.

It was a pleasure hearing your story and for you to share your wisdom.

I’m just so grateful for your vulnerability.

So thank you.

Thank you.


Avery – 23:17

I hope it helps.

Hey, do not press that skip button yet.

Yes, this is the end of the episode, but I still have something else I think you’re really going to like.

I know you’re already an expert at setting goals that push you out of your comfort zone.

Let’s be real.

You’re a high achiever after all.

But how often do you sabotage yourself on the way to achieving those goals?


Avery – 23:43

Perfectionism, procrasti-planning, over committing, holding yourself to a double standard.

All of these things can sabotage our progress by either slowing it down or making it impossible for us to achieve our goals.

Like we talk about so often on this podcast, awareness of what’s causing the issue is the first step.

So take that first step by going to thetruthaboutburnout.com slash quiz to take our free quiz to discover your self-sabotage style.

And of course, I won’t leave you stuck.

Once you complete the quiz and discover your primary self-sabotage style, I’ll follow up with an email giving you ideas about what to do about it so that it stops holding you back.

Go to thetruthaboutburnout.com slash quiz to get started.


Avery – 24:28

That’s it for now, until next week.

On this episode of The Truth About Burnout podcast, Avery welcomes Joan, a dedicated coach specializing in hospitality who works with independent restaurateurs. Joan identifies strongly as a high achiever, a trait she’s carried with her throughout her life, driving her to excel academically and professionally. She shares her passion for helping restaurateurs who often find themselves working grueling 18-hour days, believing that burnout doesn’t have to be the norm.

Joan’s experience during the pandemic as a multi-unit manager is particularly enlightening. She managed both a retail outlet and a restaurant, often finding herself juggling multiple roles simultaneously—from host to bartender, server to dishwasher. The pressures were immense, with labor shortages and a challenging chef exacerbating the stress. Physically and mentally, the toll was evident, manifesting in bizarre symptoms like aching limbs and immovable thumbs.

In her journey to recover from burnout, Joan adopted meditation, journaling, and daily walks as self-care practices. A pivotal shift in focus from herself to her crew members proved transformative. Joan recognized that when her team felt supported, they were more engaged and committed, reducing the burden on her as a manager. Drawing from this insight, Joan created a program aimed at helping independent restaurateurs hire and retain strong teams. This initiative empowers restaurant owners to trust their teams, work fewer hours, and achieve a better work-life balance.

Episode Highlights:

0:00 – Introduction

Avery introduces Joan, a high-achieving coach in the hospitality industry, who works with independent restaurateurs facing burnout.


2:45 – Identifying as a High Achiever

Joan shares her lifelong identification as a high achiever, attributing her ability to think outside the box and problem-solve to this trait. However, it also leads her to feel guilty when prioritizing self-care over work.


4:15 – Burnout Experience During the Pandemic

Joan recounts her challenging experience managing a retail outlet and restaurant during the pandemic. She details the stress of labor shortages, juggling multiple roles, and dealing with a demanding chef.


7:30 – Physical Symptoms of Burnout

Joan shares the bizarre physical symptoms she experienced, including body aches and immovable thumbs, highlighting the toll burnout took on her.


9:00 – Recovery Strategies

Joan discusses the self-care practices she adopted to recover from burnout, including daily meditation, journaling, and walking. She also emphasizes the importance of shifting focus from herself to supporting her team.


11:30 – Building a Strong Team

Joan introduces her program aimed at helping independent restaurateurs hire and retain strong teams. She explains how this approach allows restaurant owners to work fewer hours and achieve a better work-life balance.

Guest links: