Stress, Burn-Out & Over-Confidence Floored Me
I made this video to present my re-branded blog – miketflanagan.com – and explain my Corporate Survivor Shield and my corporate burn-out story behind it. The first part of the video is scripted and I explain, in some detail, individual components and the significance behind them.
- I discuss my ‘Stairway To Success’ philosophy – visualized in the banner – and how it enabled me to rise up through the corporate world and achieve great things in my own consultancy business.
- Also how the ‘Stairway To Success’ can be applied just as effectively in the world of Internet Marketing.
- I talk about the last 5+ years of my recovery and how they have been a struggle and how I am slowly emerging as a completely different person, as I strive to to re-invent myself in Internet Marketing.
- I speak of my rise to the top of my field, how I took on an incredible challenge and designed a fully scale-able enterprise IT system from a wish-list typed on a scrap of paper.
The part of the video where I am in front of the camera was done in one take. It is not scripted and it is uncut, with umms, aahhs, repeated words and mistakes left in.
I wanted it to be real and off-the-cuff and apart from the images I put in afterwards, to match what I speak about, it is totally un-plugged.
Presenting the new banner on my blog may seem a little strange to you, but I like to have a banner that tells a story and presents something I hope visitors will find instructive, inspiring and relevant.
The idea behind the design of this new banner adopts that same philosophy.
But I have to tell you that the reason why I have pasted an image of it below, is because it may soon change again, as I have received feedback indicating the style of it to be old-fashioned – well, I am relatively old myself 🙂
However, I do accept and take account of any suggestion. Especially when it is from someone whose opinions I respect as a proven marketer, with far greater on-line experience than I and who is more in-tune with current styles.
I’ve also been told that the red bird shown in the shield does not look anything like a phoenix, which it is supposed to be.
I’ll let you into a little secret about it, in fact it is a photograph of an actual phoenix statue that I have stylized myself in Photoshop! But, I suppose that people viewing it aren’t to know that it is a photo of a real statue.
So I intend to bow to majority opinion and look for an image of a phoenix that most people will immediately recognize.
This is the banner that is the subject of the video:
For people who have read my About page, you will know that I suffered a severe breakdown on the second day of August 2010. It’s something that takes quite a while to get over and for some people, they never do.
In my case progress has been steady, if a little slow. I make no apologies for covering this subject again as there are still things I feel that I must express in public before I can move on to properly grasp opportunities and give them my full focus.
With that said, I hope that you find some value in this post, whether you watch the video or read the transcripts.
Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
Scripted First Section – Explanation of Banner Components (Transcript)
00:00:00 to 00:01:14
Like the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes, I’m also rising from the ashes of corporate burn-out.
Once a casualty of large corporation dogma I am now a survivor; a Corporate Survivor.
This shield now represents those dark days as I strive to reinvent myself in the world of Internet Marketing.
So, welcome to my newly branded blog miketflanagan.com. I’m a technical guy and an entrepreneur.
I was successful in the corporate world because I had enormous self-belief.
Note: My Stairway To Success philosophy works well in any field, including Internet Marketing
- Your aims, Your goals, Your desires will become reality as You start to achieve them one after the other.
- Achievement will come.
- Make it real in your mind.
- Believe that you can and you certainly will.
- Strongly believe in yourself – Your capability – no one else will fully understand Your dreams, Your desires.
- Keep setting Your goals higher, achievements bring greater confidence.
- You will succeed in what You do, success after success will follow as You continue to aim higher and higher.
This is my Stairway To Success, which has served me well in my previous career.
Un-Scripted Second Section – Off-The-Cuff, Un-Cut & Un-Edited (Transcript)
00:01:14 to 00:22:36
Note: I have added words in square brackets to improve the transcript’s readability
Hi, my name’s Mike Flanagan and this video is unscripted, so I’m just doing it off the top of my head.
I’ve changed the banner on my website, it’s now a plain sort of banner.
The other one, I guess, was a little bit too busy, maybe a little bit too confusing for people.
This is what it looked like:
But, I did that at the time I was still recovering from my breakdown. In fact, I am still recovering now, I’m not yet fully recovered.
But that [original banner] was really more of a statement about what I thought; where I was; I was in a very busy, grey; industrious type environment.
The weight of responsibility was on my shoulders. I worked at quite a high level, I was a Senior Architect for an IT systems [products & services company] – I’m talking about large systems, I was on a lot of major projects; multi-million dollar projects, that involved large corporations who wanted their I T system making better; making more sleeker; overall to be able to do a lot of things that it wasn’t doing at the time. Which is why they brought us [the company] in, to make things better; to make things more efficient; more powerful systems.
So, I was involved in that. In fact I was in charge of a team of designers, people with various skill sets. Subject Matter Experts who knew all about their particular area of specialization. Such as Data Encryption; other security; Network Attached Storage; Network Storage Systems – all types of things.
It was my job to bring these people together. They were all architects as well, with skills in specialist areas. I was in overall charge of it and had various titles depending on what project I was working on at the time.
The reason I’m telling you this – and you can read about this in my About Me section on my website, which is www.miketflanagan.com, as shown here [in the video I point to a background image of my Blog]
It was the responsibility of all of that and it wasn’t just one project, it was one of many that I was responsible for, indeed a lot of projects.
In my time, I’ve done a lot of my own design work on major projects.
In fact, I worked on a design proposal that was no more than a scrap of paper. And this was from Manchester Airport, in England. I’m going back a long time now, back to the late 1990’s. They wanted a system which they could control from one central point and they didn’t want to have engineers going out fixing things; going to people’s desks and fixing desktops. They wanted it doing all remotely and to be able to control them [desktops] remotely. Now, this is all simple these days, but going back then it wasn’t so simple; it wasn’t so easy.
But this is what they wanted and they gave me a scrap of paper. Yes, I applied for it [the job] and I got it.
[Manchester Airport called the project ‘NT Rollout’, because the desktop PC’s would run NT4]
As a freelance consultant, I said yes, I can do this – I can do something that’s never been done before – and I was really terrified, I don’t want to make you think that I knew what I was doing at the time, because nobody had done it! Anyway, to cut a long story short, I actually did it and it got featured [in a Novell magazine]:
I used a Novell system that really didn’t exist [as a product] at the time, I was using early prototypes of a system [software] they called ZEN.
Microsoft just didn’t have anything at that time that was suitable. They weren’t that far advanced.
They [Manchester Airport] had someone working on it from a Microsoft perspective, But, there was no way they could ever achieve what was wanted – it just wasn’t there with Microsoft. It wasn’t [officially] there with Novell either, but they were a bit further down the road [with the technology]. I used what was an experimental system [software] and successfully designed something that just worked, quite amazingly! And worked across the whole site – the whole enterprise; the whole airport – the thing just worked!
It delivered applications centrally and engineers didn’t have to go out. It achieved everything they wanted, all from a small scrap of paper with a few things on it. Really just a wish-list.
That’s all they had and is all I had to work from.
Note: Manchester Airport called the project ‘NT Rollout’, because the desktop PC’s would run NT4
But from that [scrap of paper] I built a team of engineers and a team of other architects, as well as a team of people who would go out there and stretch cables where they needed to go. I was responsible for everyone that was required for the project.
A project that came into existence because I said “yes, I can do it”.
But in my mind I didn’t know whether I could really do it or not.
That is the type of person I was, back then. I ran my own Consultancy Business.
[When I set up the business] I went out into the wild, as it were, on my own; freelance – a big risk for anyone.
Prior to that, I’d worked for large corporations, designing systems.
My background is electronics and I used to design control systems for a living.
Then I went into large Data Systems – wasn’t called I T back then – it was mainframe systems.
Things just progressed on from there and it became [known as] IT and I became very good; very proficient at it because I came from that electronics background. I basically knew what was going on inside the ‘black-boxes’ [mainframes & peripheral equipment] more than any of the programmers ever knew, they just wrote a program and it worked. They didn’t know how, why, what, when, they didn’t know anything [outside of programming] but I did know and it all came quite easy to me
So, I used that skill and jumped in with both feet at Manchester Airport and said “yes, I can do this” – from a scrap of paper!
I went home that night and told my wife. I was terrified and didn’t sleep that night, or for many after that, even after I’d started [work] there. I was wondering [to myself] “what the hell am I going to do now; how am I going to do this?”.
But, I did it and Novell were interested.
They came to see me and to see what I had done.
They were quite amazed [at what I had achieved with their experimental software] and used my design as a Case Study.
A lot of the solutions I came up with during that design, were actually incorporated into Novell’s own systems. My documentation became White Papers and because it was very successful, I was invited to present at one of Novell’s annual BrainShare events, where people come from all over the world, who had done incredible designs with Novell’s systems [software products].
Or, as in my case, an experimental software.
I was featured in one of the trade magazines that were around at that time. A full center spread of everything I had done and problems I had encountered and overcome. And how a lot of my design solutions were officially incorporated into the released Novell product. [It became known as ZENWorks]
The way I approached this challenge is the true me, It’s how I have always been; how I was [that is] right up to August 2010.
I was a high-flying executive – I was at that level – and I was earning incredible money, 6 figures plus easily.
And this was [my regular] job, not what we do in Internet Marketing. I had a car, expense account and brilliant private health cover, which was the thing that really helped and kept me going when I had the breakdown. Everything became too much and I guess age as well – that plays a very important part in these things. You think that you can carry on and [keep doing] the things you did when a lot younger, [but] it becomes increasingly difficult.
And that’s what happened to me.
I was [actually] at a customer meeting at the time, [sat] around a table about to start the meeting.
When it happened.
It just happened.
That was it – Bang! – that was the start of it and that was in August 2010. I didn’t go back to work and I was looked after very very well [by the company’s medical plan].
The company knew very well [the underlying reasons] – I guess the amount of work I was doing; the pressure; the responsibility; and everything [else] piled on top.
[But] just like everyone else, I thought I was invincible and could handle all of it. [I was like] “give me more, give me more, I can handle everything you throw at me”.
That was my attitude then, I was very self-confident; very self-assured. I could do anything and I could speak to anybody [regardless of position, status etc]
At the end of the day, [though] we are just human beings and I guess my body [and brain] were just telling me “that’s it, that’s enough, I can’t take anymore of this. I don’t need this stress; this hassle”.
I didn’t realize that I was stressed, but I must have been very stressed, because my body just gave up. Bang! and [then] breakdown.
[That was in] August 2010 and I actually never did go back to my job. I went to Rehab [specialist hospital] and had all types of therapies you could think of – CBT [which is] Cognitive Behavior Therapy; Mindfulness; I was hypnotized – [there were] so many things, I can’t think [now] what they [all] were. I was under that hospital [care] for a long long time. I was in there [as an inpatient] and couldn’t get out, [although] I wasn’t sectioned, I was put in there and was very well looked after by the nurses; psychiatrists and everyone in there.
I was amazed at the kind of people that were in that place. I can’t believe it [when I found out]; it was anybody and everybody. You name a profession and there was someone there from that profession, who was in that place with me.
I spoke to a guy – let’s call him Tony. I was in a sitting room next to Tony and a psychiatrist walked through the sitting room. He stopped and said “Tony?”. Tony stood up and said “how are you – Malcolm?” Or whatever his name was. ‘Malcolm’ said “how are you doing?. I didn’t think you’d be working here” Then Tony said “hang on a minute, I’m not working here. I’m actually a patient” [in here].
[I found out that] Tony was a psychiatrist. [Apparently] he was a brilliant psychiatrist. But, just like me, everything just collapsed around him – his whole world; everything he knew; the confidence he had – gone.
He’d suffered the same kind of breakdown as I had.
[Now], these are the [kind of] people that help us [people like Tony]. Us that breakdown and have addictions. I didn’t have any addictions, but there were people in there that did. They help these people. But they are not immune to it [themselves], not at all.
All the group therapies I had been to, [with people from different professions] I found out that this is quite a common thing – certainly in the time that we live in. Stress, there is a lot of stress about. A lot of people working at such high levels and taking on too much. It becomes too much for them.
They don’t take the hints from their body – and I guess I mustn’t have done either – and the body just takes over. That is it. I guess the mind says “Whow, no more. you cannot take any more of this and if you carry on like this, you’re going to be dead”.
So, I guess that’s what happens. My body/mind took over, but since then I’ve become very interested in the mind. I bought lots of books and lots of CD’s. I [also] downloaded videos & audio; all sorts of things. To find out about the mind [and an answer to] why did this thing happen to me? Mister Confidence himself. But, it did [happen to me].
I’ve read, watched and listened to a lot of things and gone into various areas of this, as well as into the more surreal side of things [although] I don’t think they are so surreal now that I’ve been through it myself.
I’ve seen things and had visions, when I was in the worst of it. I did see and hear things that weren’t there, [at least] most people say they’re not there, but they were very real to me.
From what I’ve read and the things I’ve learnt, I [now] think they were real, but [maybe] real in a different plain I guess. I was seeing things that we can’t normally see, but they are there and I think there’s a lot of truth in it.
Now, if you had said this to me prior to August [2nd] 2010, I would have laughed at you [and said] “Get off! Come off it! Haven’t got time for this! I’m busy! Got all these project’s to do! All this work has got to be done! Got a deadline to meet! Look, if we miss this mile-stone we’ll miss a payment of $1.5 million! We got to do this now guys! Come on, no time for all this crap!”
That’s the kind of person I was, I didn’t believe it – not at all. But now I do.
I’m now talking over 5 years since this [breakdown] happened to me and I have now experienced and seen of things, which I just wouldn’t believe anybody who had said that to me before August 2010. I wouldn’t have believed these things existed – but they do. I’m not going to go into any great depth here
The reason why I am making this video – [actually] I’ve made another video, which is more of a joking type [of] video of what had happened to me. But at the time, I had to make that [type of] video. You can see that video on my YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/user/miketflanagans) [It’s called Breakdown In 2010 That Changed Me – And A New Start]
Also go to my website [miketflanagan.com] and you’ll find a link to it there. [Although] it’s more of a jokey video it’s based on truth. What I just told you [in this video] is more factual [and serious] which is why I wanted to make this video.
I’ve [now] got rid of that [original] banner I had and now have a more professional type of banner.
I’m coming to the stage, in my mind where I’m coming out [of it]. I was withdrawn – very withdrawn – and am now coming out; coming back to the type of confident person I was. But not the same person I was. I am not that person that existed [over] 5 years ago, I’m not that person anymore. No, no, no.
I was clean-shaven and didn’t I have all this facial hair. I had this [beard] from being in Rehab, in the hospital, I couldn’t shave, they took everything sharp away from me. They took electric shavers away from me [as] I couldn’t have the [electrical] cords.
[So], I grew the beard, which is representative and a [constant] reminder of what happened to me [and] I’ve had it ever since. I’ve said that [when] I’m better again and come back to the way I was, I would shave the beard off. But now I think it represents me, it’s part of me and I’ve got used to it now, so I’ll be keeping it.
[Although] it’s a bit [scraggy] at the moment and could do with trimming. But [as It’s] near Christmas, my wife doesn’t want me to, she wants me to wear a big red costume and a [red] hat, for our little granddaughter who will be going to see Santa again tomorrow. [Although] it’s a different Santa; a different place; she’s going to, [but this time] with [both] her mother & father. She’s seen Santa twice and we’ve been there with her [and her mother].
But it’s going to be my turn to play Santa – and why not! When I was in Rehab, there was a girl there who said [to me] “oh, you’re Santa Claus! You’re Santa Claus!” Because my beard was long and straggly, because I couldn’t cut it.
I’ll be glad when Christmas is over and I’ll be trimming it, as it does get a bit annoying. But it is part of me – it is me.
What I’ve also done, during this time when I’ve got involved with Internet Marketing, is to write a book.
[My book is called Internet Marketing Entrepreneur Kick-Start (IMEKS for short)]
The book can be downloaded [free] from my website
It represents what I have been through as far as Internet Marketing is concerned. How I got involved; got it to work; how I’ve done it – from my perspective of course.
It took me a long time to write the book, because, in my mind it represented a project. That’s the problem I have. When I see something that resembles anything like the kind of work I was involved in, I start to go into a sort of shutdown state again.
But I’m gradually getting over that [and] that’s why it took me a while to write the book. I kept telling myself; “this is not a project, there is no deadline. There’s nothing here to worry about. Just write a few words, that’s all you have to do. And then forget about it. Go back to it when you’re ready”.
That’s how I’ve treated this whole Internet Marketing thing.
If I was the old me doing it, I can’t imagine how far along I’d be by now. I really can’t imagine it – certainly a lot further than I am at the moment.
But, like I said, I’m taking things at a much slower pace these days. I’m not thinking of anything [like] “Deadline! It has to be done Now!”
I try not to [do that]. Well, for a start, I’m on medication that prevents that kind of thing [panic] anyway. Ive learnt…
[It ends abruptly at this point, because the camera toppled over!]
I felt that I’d said enough anyway and ended it there with a big Thank You displayed on screen.