Upon entering the online casino market, Codeta enjoyed much success, however a combination of high targets and an immensely pressurised marketplace led to Edward Ihre, co-founder of Codeta being forced to recognise that he had hit rock bottom and take a step back.
Ihre shared with CasinoBeats his personal experience of burnout and exhaustion after forming the online casino brand, he also revealed the measures he has put in place to help prevent burn-out for both him and his employees in the future.
CasinoBeats: Hi Edward, thanks for talking to us, could you tell us a little more about the situation that led to you taking a break from Codeta?
EI: “There were a number of factors that culminated in a sort of perfect storm. When launching Codeta, I was going through a divorce from my then wife. Because I was so consumed with getting the business off the ground, I didn’t have time to process the emotional turmoil I was going through until a later date. At the same time, I also underestimated the work required to launch a new online casino brand, including sourcing outside investment and the expectations investors had – I realised they were not only investing in Codeta, but they were also investing in me.
“After a few months it became clear that carving out a niche in the online casino sector was going to be much harder than anticipated, and I took this very personally. I believed that if the business failed then I failed, too, and not just as a businessman but as a person. By the time we completed our second funding round in May 2017, I felt completely exhausted. I was losing my memory, I had a bad temper, and would start crying during meetings. Then, one day, I hit a brick wall and simply couldn’t get out of bed. I called my ex-wife and she, along with my brother (also a founder of Codeta), intervened.
“They cut me off from all work-related activity – literally everything – and instructed me not to return until I was properly rested and had recovered my mental health. It took me seven months to get back on my feet and to the point where I could return to work.”
How important do you feel it is to separate work from home life, how much does it improve your quality of work?
“This is a tough question, even after what I have been through. As an entrepreneur, I have never really made a distinction between the two, and that is where I went wrong in some respects. My home life is now very different to what it was before my burn-out. I don’t think it comes down to keeping work at the office and home at home; it’s more about being able to separate the two mentally while also allowing them to run side by side.
“For example, if you are working from your office at home and your kids interrupt, you need to be able to drop what you are doing and mentally switch to your role as a father.
“For me, the breakthrough has been in disassociating the success of Codeta with my success as a human being. Just because the business has taken longer to establish than anticipated in no way makes me a bad person. Realising this has been hugely liberating.”
What strategies and methods would you advise people to put in place in order to ensure they continue working hard, without overdoing it and draining themselves?
“I think this very much related to the above question, i.e being able to be present in the moment and in different roles (worker, human being) and quickly adapting to the one that requires your attention. When you can’t distinguish between the two and jump from one to the other, you are risk of burn-out.
“I expect people to work hard and do their best but their family and personal life always comes first. One practical method I have started to use is that once I get home, I put my phone on silent and place it on top of the fridge and pay full attention to my kids until they have gone to bed. Then I can start checking emails having been fully present in their life and in my role as a father to them.
“I would also encourage people to share their feelings and problems with their managers and bosses; they are the ones best-placed to help at work and can manage expectations from both sides.”
As the owner of Codeta, how would you intervene if you felt one of your employees was overworking and becoming either mentally or physically exhausted?
“I would immediately talk to the person in question to find out their work/personal situation. Burn-out and stress often come about due to lack of communication and sharing. Perhaps the person in question has (wrongly, as in my case) put unnecessary pressure on themselves to solve a specific task or situation. Perhaps there is a combination of work and personal factors that have built up. It is important to talk about them so the necessary measures can be put in place.
“You then have to assess how best to overcome the issues at hand. I had one of my employees experience this quite recently and, after discussing it with him, I felt he was in a bad place so took the same measures with him as I had with myself. We pulled him out everything; emails, phone calls, Skype and allowed him to have three months off on full pay.
“I mention that he was on full pay because it is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to recovery. If a burnt-out employee is not on full pay, they are likely to return before they are better due to the financial implications of being on sick pay or no pay whatsoever.”
Now you are mostly back, what are some of your aims for Codeta moving forward, and have you reached a stage where you are enjoying your work again?
“I have decided to move back into the business slowly, meaning I work at the office from 10am to 2pm every day – routines are good for someone that has hit the wall – and have involved myself in the parts of the business I enjoy the most and provide the most value.
“This is things like management support/advisor, affiliate team-support and product development. The big difference is that there is someone else in charge of Codeta and its various departments, while my role now is to support and advise management to make the best possible decisions on my behalf. This takes a lot of pressure off me.”