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How Success Happened for Dr. Lauren Hodges and Phil Burton

The co-founders of Performance on Purpose are focused on the health and wellness of all employees at this critical time

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted employee well-being: According to McKinsey & Company, mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression have more than doubled. As a response to these needs, businesses like Performance on Purpose, co-founded by entrepreneurs and human performance experts Dr. Lauren Hodges and Phil Burton, have gained traction and notoriety as the health and well-being of employees have become a high priority. 

Lauren Hodges and Phil Burton

“One of the few benefits of the past 18 months has been that people officers finally have a seat in the boardroom,” said Hodges in a recent interview. “Leaders in wellness, diversity and inclusion, HR, and human capital management are now a part of business-critical conversations, and these amplified voices call for more support and resources for employees experiencing rapid change, uncertainty, fear and more stress than ever before.”

Hodges has been in the space of human performance research and instructional design for the past 15 years, while Burton has been a human performance facilitator for the same amount of time. With a combined 30 years of experience and a client list that included Johnson & Johnson, Accenture, Thrive Global, Estée Lauder Companies, and Reebok, they joined forces and founded Performance on Purpose, a company with a mission to help their clients perform on purpose, with purpose and address the burnout epidemic in the global marketplace.

The company's rapid growth is indicative of the need for its message: In the first year, it tripled revenue despite a global shutdown with continued growth in 2021 leading to an expanded team of coaches and a growing client list. Though its clients span a variety of companies and industries across the globe, one of the most rewarding opportunities has been supporting a large group of school districts in the Central Valley area of California. Performance on Purpose also offered reduced pricing on virtual training, performance coaching and digital on-demand content to teachers, administrators and superintendents on the frontline of the pandemic. The initiative was so successful, a white paper was published in June 2021 by School Administrator magazine on the efforts and other districts and government entities across the country reached out for support. 

“We help our clients identify tools they can use right away to manage stress and show up the way they want to no matter the challenges they face. Through small, intentional shifts in our daily life we can learn to thrive through the hard stuff without sacrificing what really matters to us: our health, our families, our happiness," Hodges explained.

Related: Every Company Today Needs Its Own Podcast Series

The company's team of coaches and facilitators are some of the most sought-after in the world. I asked how they managed to put together such a strong team.

“I think it’s because Phil and I live fully into our values no matter what,” Hodges says. “We absolutely practice what we preach and implement these strategies in our own lives; otherwise, our training and coaching would come across inauthentically and clients feel that. We’re prepared to pay a higher premium for coaches who are not only incredibly talented and globally recognized, but are values-driven.”

When I asked for her thoughts on how to manage energy and stay resilient as an entrepreneur, she laughed.

“It’s so hard, right? Entrepreneurs, we’re a different breed. It takes a certain amount of grit, determination, ambition, forward energy — hustle I guess? — to build an idea from the ground up. It takes awfully long hours, a high degree of risk, lots of energy and effort," she says. “Your greatest superpower can quickly become your kryptonite if not managed well. Qualities like ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’ that we often wear as a badge of honor can quickly send us spiraling into burnout and disconnection from family and friends. So, knowing how to tow the line is a critical skill."

She offered some suggestions on how to take care of your well-being and energy while building a business:

  1. Recover often. Taking breaks (even small ones) is great for your mental and physical health. It also improves focus, memory, decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation. Get in the habit of intentional and regular breaks during those long workdays. Try meditation, movement, check-ins with loved ones or a healthy snack. Set reminders — you’ll need them.

  2. Identify and fiercely protect boundaries. Make a list of non-negotiable boundaries — things like a good night’s sleep, regular exercise or turning your phone off at a certain hour to be fully present with family. 

  3. Stay true to your values. Get clear on what matters most to you: not just your business’s values, but your personal values. Write them down and read them often. 

The future of business is people-centered. Forward-thinking leaders are using the pandemic to reimagine the way we’re working and managing teams. Small businesses like Performance on Purpose are rapidly finding their footprint in this new values-driven, people-centered environment to help us all thrive.

Related: Listen to the How Success Happens Podcast with Robert Tuchman

Robert Tuchman

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Robert Tuchman is the host of Entrepreneur's How Success Happens podcast and a founder of Amaze Media Labs an agency that creates podcasts for companies and brands. He built and sold two Inc. 500 companies: TSE Sports and Entertainment and Goviva acquired by Creative Artists Agency (CAA).