29th May 2018 |
How to stop your creative team burning out


Do you have a creative agency? It’s hard isn’t it? Pitching. Difficult clients. Getting paid. Ridiculous deadlines. Things going wrong. At least you get chance to party each night, ease the pain. The problem is you’re a casualty waiting to happen, and so is your team.

There is a weird paradox in the creative services industry (design, marketing, advertising). You pride yourself and are paid for your creativity. But you work long hours, under extreme pressure and give away your ideas for free. Are you really your most creative after all that?

And then the culture of our industry is – ahem – fuelled by stimulants. You win a pitch, you have a party. You drink a bunch of coffee to kickstart your hangover, you pop out for a cheeky pint or two at Glug. Repeat.

Maybe you can keep that up for a few years, maybe five, maybe more. But is it a sustainable way to do what you love? Being creative, innovative, alive? 

I learnt the hard way

How do I know this? Because that was me. I set up a brand agency in 2001 which grew from 2 to 20 people within 3 years with clients like PlayStation, BAFTA, NSPCC. I made a bunch of money. I worked 8 til 8. We threw The Best Parties. And I led from the front (ie drinking a lot).

Sounds cool? It was for a while. But the “success” had a dark side, a shadow which grew longer as I got older. I ignored it, drank more coffee. One day I ditched, hitting rock bottom in time for the birth of my second daughter. I was 32.


Me at 32 with burnout & depression

I thought I knew it all, refused to recognise the problem, to accept I couldn’t cope. On the outside I was living the life of a successful creative entrepreneur, a runaway success. But is it success to be unable to make it through the day, eroding relationships, halting your creativity? 

What I learnt 
It’s taken 13 years (I’m 45 this year) to truly get on top of my self-inflicted creative burnout. In that time I was diagnosed with depression. I also sold my business, built another, invested in startups, taken my event The Tech Off to SXSW, had a third daughter. I have done a bunch of stuff, but it’s taken a decade to learn how.

My advice is: avoid burning out. It’s shit. And completely avoidable. And don’t inflict it on your team either.

Get ahead without burning out
In an attempt to combat this, a year ago I came up with the idea for a festival. A 24 hour celebration of life, from 6am to 6am. A positive focus on a complex and sensitive subject.  I named it “Getahead”, a place to learn how to go for your goals without ending up in a ditch like me.

And now it’s actually happening! During London Tech Week (London & Partners is an official partner) we kick off at 6am on 13thJune, and carry on all the way to 6am on the 14th. The first year of a 25 year commitment to help a billion people and create the “SXSW of mental health, wellbeing & productivity” in London. 


The line-up is incredible and includes:

  • Soul Sisters hosting a pre-work sober rave with The Weaver Bros (their actual brothers!) plus high impact fitness classes 
  • A psychiatrist analysing 4 creative entrepreneurs on stage
  • The world’s number one entrepreneurial coaching programme teaching you tools to stay positive 
  • Live standup comedy & music 
  • One of the world’s leading endurance athlete coaches 
  • The Tech Off aka the lovechild of TED talks & WWE 
  • Radio 1 Xtra DJ Melody Kane hosting a unique dance fitness class 
  • Monster rave up session with some special guest DJs you WILL have heard of (we have an album launching that night)

    See the full line up at


Are you & your team burning out?
Since announcing Getahead nearly everyone I speak to has opened up about how they’re struggling. Some more than others, but literally no-onefinds their lives easy. Their work is consuming them (as are their social media habits & booze).

So even if you feel OK, I guarantee some of your colleagues aren’t. This is a universal problem. It doesn’t matter your gender, race, sexuality, economic background, industry. Everyone wants to “get ahead”. To achieve. To win the game they are playing. And everyone is finding it harder and harder to keep up.

So take a moment....

Are you and your team stressed, overworked, overwhelmed, fried? Do you wish you could rejuvenate and revive your creative mojo? Then Getahead Festival is for you.

Ticket Deal Innit!

We have organised a Ticket Deal for you lovely Gluggers :-)

  • Get a Getahead 24 hour ticket for ONLY 5 POUNDS:  GLUG24 
  • You can buy x10 tickets for your team / mates / family for only £24 (that’s £2.40 a ticket!): GETAHEAD24

So if you & your team are stressed out and overworked, come to Getahead Festival with your team on June 13th. Learn ways to get ahead without burning out, and get those creative juices flowing again.

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