Go from Surviving to Thriving Personally and Professionally with Alyson Caffrey

View Transcript

This transcript was created using AI. Please forgive any discrepencies.

[Intro] Welcome to Easy Style with Sami. I’m your host Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each episode, I invite a friend, family member or colleague or just someone I’ve met on this journey called life to come and share their personal style and approach to business, parenting, life and everything in between. You’ll hear motivational and inspirational stories that will help you refine and build your own personal style. Remember, style is easy when it comes from within.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hello, hello. Welcome to another episode of easy style with Sami, I am so excited to have Alyson Caffrey. Join me on the podcast today. Thank you for being here.

Alyson Caffrey 0:38
Thanks, Sami, I appreciate you having me. I’m really excited to be here as well. Yeah. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So normally, most of the people that are on this podcast are people I’ve known for years, there’s been a handful of people that are newbies to my world, and you are one of them. And so I am so excited to have you here, because what you’re coming to talk about just kind of hit home for me so hard that I was like we got to have this conversation, because I think it will be something that a lot of people need to hear. So thank you for that. Yeah, thanks. So why don’t you start by just maybe introducing yourself to everybody and telling them a little bit about who you are?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, sure thing. So I’m Alyson Caffrey. I’m the founder of operations agency. And I have about five years in OPS agency and about eight years industry experience in small business and medium sized business operations. And it wasn’t until I actually had my first kiddo that I really realized the weight that operations carry behind the scenes in a business. Meaning that if you want to build an asset that is independent of the founder, independent of any one person, this is a really critical piece to get right. And ultimately, it ended up kind of hitting me over the head when I was actually sitting in the hospital bed with my firstborn son. And my husband had just snapped this really lovely picture that I still to this day cherish of me and my son. And the very next scene, which we don’t ultimately end up documenting some of the challenging times was me on my phone on my email answering client questions, you know, getting my team next steps and making decisions. And I think whether or not you know, this is true of, you know, listeners who’ve had kids or listeners who’ve tried to take a vacation or listeners who just honestly need a break from things that are going on in their business, I find that lots of owners get reluctantly pulled back into client fires and team issues. And it’s just really, really, really reactive. And so that’s one of the reasons why I exist is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about what I do is to make sure that businesses not only have the longevity that they want, but also the day to day enjoyment of running a business because this really is such an opportunity. And I think operations unlock the door for both of those things. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, because operations isn’t necessarily a sexy thing that people want to talk about. Freedom, right?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, so funny. I said that all the time. I’m like, ops isn’t sexy, but like, neither is like getting sweaty and working out in the gym. Right. But you, you’re committed to your overall health. And we know it’s a core component, right. And we can do some small things and create some small wins and small habits, right? We don’t need to do the operations equivalent of training for a marathon right out of the gate, right? We could just go for a walk around the block, get some sun on our face, right, really experience some of the benefits there?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, so let’s talk about the subject of burnout, because I think it has looked like so many different things since 2020, and COVID. And now coming out of it and now remote hybrid, we go back to the office, you know, how do we still communicate with our peers? Colleagues? How do we work as a team operations has changed dramatically in these last three to five years? So like, what’s your take on burnout? Is it getting better? Or is it getting worse? Is it just changing? Like, what’s your kind of high level view on that?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, that’s a great question. And honestly, I think burnout is getting better, like holistically, right, since COVID, since folks have been really into work life balance. So since folks have been seeing their employees and their people as more like 360 people, does that make sense? Right, like we’re also moms, we’re also sisters, we’re also spouses, right? Like all the things, I think that the discourse around, you know, work life balance has been at least spoken about more. Now. I do, however, think that businesses want to provide work life balance for their employees, and to support them through things like taking breaks, like taking vacations, but they don’t know how to access that tactically, right. They have these really high hopes they want to provide incentive programs, but they don’t know how to structure things behind the scenes to be able to allow somebody to go on a two week vacation with their family uninterrupted, right or sign off at 5pm event right and not be pulled back into things at eight o’clock after they put all the kids down and they do dinner. So that’s the thing that I think it’s the tactical piece that’s missing there. And it’s one of the reasons why I think talking about this and just you know how it can be such a unique approach for each and every business right depending on the size of your team. Even depending on what you guys want to do, I know so many businesses now who are experimenting with the four day workweek, which is so excellent and such a great way to keep folks engaged and to make sure that we are balancing kind of that those rest periods along with high performance periods. Pardon me. But I think what ultimately is happening is that the lines are getting blurred ever so slightly. And I want to stop that. Because I think ultimately, everyone, now if we’re working from our home, I mean, I’ve always worked from my home. So I know how to kind of create some of those boundaries. But I remember when COVID first happened, I was getting interviewed constantly about working from home, and what that looked like and how to increase productivity, and make sure that we didn’t have like dogs and cats and babies and things like jumping into the picture on the screen. And, you know, and I think we’ve all kind of come around to the fact that this is going to be a little bit more standard in the new landscape that we’re operating in as a business. But I do think that there are going to be some challenges right in creating some of those boundaries,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] right, like, I think my husband was just down here making food in the kitchen. Because my office is right off the kitchen. And I usually warn people when I’m recording because my mic tends to pick up more, but there’s dogs barking all the time in the background. And I will say not to like make this a gender thing. But one of the things that I’ve noticed since more people are working out from home is more of the male counterparts in the office are also experiencing that and almost feeling like getting it a little bit more like I’ve had just as many interruptions from kids, when I’m on interviews with, you know, with males, podcasts, or like consulting, calm, whatever, as I have with, you know, with moms and dads. And so it’s been kind of like an almost like an equalizer of like, okay, we get it, it’s not just you saying it’s not just you not prioritizing work, it’s your life.

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah. And it’s funny, I talk about this a lot with moms because I also own a company called Master maternity leave for mom, producers and companies with expecting employees like how to really extract somebody and be able to still function. And honestly, a lot of the time, when we talk about this, right, we want to make sure that folks feel supported in their time outside of work. Because if you’re leaving kids, if you’re leaving things that you’re really excited about, you’re leaving your spouse, you’re leaving your home, you want to step into what you’re doing and feel enrolled in that vision. And part of that is this place supports me and I support that, right. So that’s the thing I think that I talked a lot about with some of my executive level folks, as we’re like, hey, look, how can I really help my team become more enlisted in what we’re doing and really show up and do their best work? Well, that means checking some boxes behind the scenes, right? I need to know my kids are taking care of I need to know my spouse and I’s relationship is good. I need to know my personal health as an order. So that I can stand here in front of you and be the best version of me contributing the most I can possibly contribute in my role. So you can show up ready to show up? Yes. Okay. So I want to talk about the small to medium sized businesses really quick. And like how do we engage. So like, if you are a small, medium sized business owner, or if you work for a small, medium sized business, and you want to advocate for some things that you might need that might support you in your role?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think a lot of times in operation some of these quote unquote, perks or benefits, we automatically assume well, we can’t do that, because it’s going to be expensive, or it’s going to, you know, we’re gonna have to pay out all this extra money in vacation or like, we can’t afford to do these things. And so like, that’s kind of the way they just get out of saying, well, we just come for too small, we can’t afford to do the things that the big guys do. So what would you say to those business owners?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, so these owners, I mean, I see it all the time, right? They don’t understand what the costs actually might be in terms of losing a person, right, until they actually go through it. And I know so many owners who are so burnt from hiring, I mean, listen, PETA are by far going to be the biggest expense in our business period. Right? And we all need to just digest that and take it one bite at a time, right? Don’t be so frivolous to hire folks that you’re constantly expanding, contracting, expanding, contracting, right, we got to make sure that capacity is great. And we also need to understand to what are the individual contributors in our organization even doing right, so let’s begin with some key performance indicators. Let’s begin with outcomes, right? Stop managing your people based on a 40 hour work week, right? It’s really antiquated. It needs to get the heck out of the way. And I look at my team and I say, Hey, listen, you’re responsible for this outcome, and it takes them three hours to do that, versus 40. That is a win because now my organization has more capacity. We don’t need to just fill this ambiguous time, we really need to focus on outcomes. And so that’s usually where I encourage my owners to look first. If you’re managing a team. If you’re in a position where you yourself, right, the founder, I know a lot of founders who wear multiple hats and have multiple places in the org chart and occupy multiple boxes, define each of those roles. And I talked about this all the time too. There really does not need to be a negative stigma around wearing more than one hat in the business. And I say this, especially for my small lean teams, what we need to make sure of are two things. First is that all of those hats aren’t all on at one time. And second, that we define specifically what they are so that I know when I’m wearing hat number one, I’m supposed to be generating specific kind of outcome when I’m wearing hat number two, that needs to happen. And then further, when you start crystallizing these outcomes, what ends up happening is probably the baseline foundation of operating is your standard operating procedures start to come out of those things, right? If I’m looking for X outcome, what’s on the other side of the equation, right, it’s these five or six standard operating procedures, the more transparency you have in your organization, the less expensive people will get, because the knowledge transfer will be smoother period. So if you have somebody going out on vacation, you can support them with that small term, you know, short term expense, but over time, as the team comes in to support that person, and then that person supports the team as another person goes out, you have a really fluid supportive way of operating. And there’s nothing that is really living inside of a person’s brain, that is going to be the biggest lifesaver.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] When I think when you’re in a small organization, like I took my first vacation in August, I turned 40. We had a big couples trip. And I was like, I am not having like, I’m five days, I’m not going to have my computer. I didn’t bring those first time. I think I’ve traveled in years where I didn’t even bring my computer. And some congrats. It was a beautiful thing for the world did it fall apart was a little crazy when I first came back. Sure. But I think, um, I think it’s so critical for us as individuals to also own that piece and say, Okay, this is what I want for my life. This is what I want as an employee or as an employer. And then make sure that you’re setting up the systems like we can’t just be innocent bystanders in this and just expect somebody else to set this up for us and be like, well, they’re not doing it. So like leaders come in at all levels. You don’t have to be the CEO to be a leader in your company.

[Alyson Caffrey] Absolutely, yeah. I love that, that reframe because I do agree that it’s your position to advocate for yourself. And it’s also your position to be as open and transparent with your team as possible, right? If you see all of you guys working together as a collective whole, right? That means access to information that means clarity of priorities, right? It means clarity of role, it means open and honest discussions about pay incentives, right? Because what you might incentivize one person with looks totally different for the other person, like I’ve had employees in the past who are like, Nope, I just want to make more money. And I’ve had employees in the past or like, I’d actually love to cut out at three to go pick up my kids from school. And that was really important to them. And so it’s different, right? It just is. And so we don’t have that unless we can communicate openly and be really honest about outcomes. Because my opinion is is really as an owner, then what decision I need to make is, am I willing to pay X amount of dollars for this outcome? And if the answer is yes, because it’s a driver of my business, then like, does it matter? What the kind of minutiae is between things? It really doesn’t, right. And I think that simpler approach to operations is, I think, what’s been missing in the discourse a little bit, right, everybody thinks it’s red tape, everybody thinks it’s traction, or Eos, or this one size fits all thing. But really, if we just start repositioning things in terms of outcomes, and what we are willing to work toward, or what we are willing to spend on those things, we can start to fill in the gaps a little bit easier. And just to start to make momentum in the right direction.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Why is the beauty if you’re a smaller organization, or if you’re, you know, just starting out, you have a lot more flexibility to be more nimble, and to be more personalized with your team, and to support people where they’re at. Because I’d also think, if you’re a smaller team, that cost of losing an employee is exponentially more expensive to your business, then, you know, the apples of the world or the Googles of the world, like yes, it still costs them money. But it’s way easier for them to fill in that gap than if you’re a team of three, or a team of five and you lose somebody that’s a pretty

[Alyson Caffrey] big deal. 30% of your staff if you’re a team of three, right, yeah. Yeah, I think that would hit Apple pretty hard if they lost 30% of their staff.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Right? Well, and so what really hit me when you emailed to reach out about being on the podcast was the sabbatical method. And when I hear sabbatical, I immediately think about, you know, professors that take six months off to go do research or like, you know, somebody who gets to take, you know, a year off and go travel, because they put in 20 years at the business. And so they’re giving them like it’s almost a reward for tenure. And so you approach it from a very different space. And that like sabbatical can kind of happen in our everyday life. It just needs to be a part of our everyday thought process. And just how we approach works that we don’t burn out and we don’t lose our employees. So could you talk a little bit about that?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, yeah, I love this method because I think it’s been an unlock not only for me, but for a lot of the clients that we work with and really I think I love your description of sabbatical because it does it has this like, very like Parisian tenured vibe, where you’re just like, on Do Not Disturb and auto respond for six months or whatever. And it also has a very negative connotation. Right. So a lot of folks who have sabbaticals either have like some sort of mental crisis or a health crisis, right? And they’re out on sabbatical, right? So we have these like two really solid extremes, where we either feel like one is super unattainable, right? The like, kind of slow paced, really long sabbatical that correlates with tenure. And then we also have this other one that’s kind of like that looming. What if like, what if I drive myself to the brink of failure, and I have to take off for my business? What if I go get a checkup from the doctor and they tell me I have some sort of adrenal fatigue and I’m not going to be able to get up like, some folks, if they don’t have enough rest, like physiologically, it ends up shutting their organs die. I’m one

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] of those people, oh, nine, maybe not as extreme to shutting my organs down. But if I’m not getting good sleep, I am a nasty person. Nobody wants to be around me. And it’s like, I’m not productive at all.

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, and it’s one of the most overlooked pieces of high performance, right? So it was actually in the research around this method and and kind of crystallizing my frameworks and things. I came across a lot of research around folks who summit Everest, and I think it’s something on average, like 800 people a year seek out to summit Everest, and the number one reason why they fail is because they do not rest for long enough periods at the base camp to acclimate to altitude. That makes sense. Right? So it really is and I mean, think about it, you run a Saharan desert marathon, you do any sort of high performance training, every single one of them includes periods of rest strategically to help you with longevity, with muscle growth, with rebuilding with hydrating, right. So why do we include that in our business? Why is the discourse always just hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle? My opinion is is that just like with parenting, right? For example, right? The boundaries are a little unclear, right? When we should be letting our kid walk to the bus stop on their own or allowing them to sleep over a friend’s house and attended. But isn’t our goal to raise competent adults that thrive externally of us? Isn’t that the outcome. And I think the same is true with our business, right? We whether your goal is to keep it forever, and grow it and leave it as a legacy to your family and all of those things. Or if your goal is to exit, we need to make sure that we as founders are completely extracted from all of the outcomes. And that doesn’t mean that we need to take a six month sabbatical and get out of the business because that’s not attainable. For some folks, we need to start with this methodology in a small enough increments as humanly possible to build the muscle over time and create that longevity. But I

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] love the two examples that you talked about with work, whether you’re trying to, you know, build it to sell or build it for legacy regardless, either way, if you don’t take care of yourself, you take yourself out of the equation, your business isn’t going to be able to do either of those things. Yeah, so

[Alyson Caffrey] it’s so it’s so simple, right? But I think it’s so overlooked, right? So we have we have this, were able to come in and do some rest periods. And those also include, again, just strategic input, right? So where are we going next? Allowing thoughts allowing things to come into your brain to really incubate the team on okay, what is the next step, right. And those I mean, personally, I know, and for a lot of folks that we work with, a lot of that stuff comes at rest a lot of those breakthroughs.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and you see this a lot too in larger companies, where they’ll say, as a perk, we do one day, a week or one week, a month of just creative, you can work on whatever project you want, not related to what your requirements are, or we have an afternoon of creativity, or we do X mutant you have time built in for learning. You know, and I think that’s speaking to what you’re kind of saying in that opening ourselves up allowing ourselves to be creative, allowing ourselves to follow our passions, which is ultimately going to drive innovation, for your business in ways that you wouldn’t even know.

[Alyson Caffrey] Exactly, exactly. It’s accessing same thing as our previous conversation, right around operations and having access to some of these things that larger companies have access to, we can access the benefit of sabbatical without being super in the whole you know, costly six month vacation, we don’t have to groom you know, C suite level people and grow our organization to 1000 Folks, right to be able to give only the top five people access to this type of innovation, right? We can be in a position to really weave this into how we operate and into the culture of our business, so that our people constantly feel like we care about them as whole people and we also care about the overall health of the business and you’re contributing to it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And there goes my dog because we can’t talk about nothing podcasts without her. Loving the renters that are outside right now. I want to touch on then it kind of one more thing before we kind of get into the questions that I asked every guest because I think this is so good question, but the what you’ve already shared. But how might we start to kind of flex this muscle? So if we want, if we’re feeling a little bit like we’re close to burnout, or if we want to have conversations with our bosses or with our teams, like what kinds of things might be a great entry point into flexing this sabbatical method muscle?

[Alyson Caffrey] Oh, great question. So I have this piece in my book that’s coming out. It’s called the SR. And so you can kind of channel of this mindset around the type of sabbatical that you take, and one of them is called the assister. And I use this example of one of the most successful NBA players that probably ever played, he had the most assists and the record for assists in the league. And he had a really, really great career at the Utah Jazz, and all these different things. But he was super overlooked, right? But he assistant one, some of the best teams of all time, right, some of the most record breaking teams. And so what I like to do is I like to try to change the perspective of the owner or of the team leader or anybody contributing in the business to become an assister. How can I help somebody else generate the results that I am generating? Right? How can I tee this up for them? Right? We use a lot of screencasting methods, we use a lot of, hey, listen, what do you think about this? How do you feel like this might be helpful, and even just opening up the conversation or possibility right of someone else, being able to own this, we start to create alternative opportunities to make a process that lives outside of our own brain, right? And we can surely come in with more assistance and say, Hey, listen, these are the non negotiables, right, we have to run this play. But this is a little bit, you know, up for grabs, we can exercise our creativity here. But just shifting the doing to the assisting is the very first step.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] This is genius in this, like now my brain is going and we could talk about this, I think for our love to do an ongoing. This just gets me so excited. Because I think to like if if we show up and start that conversation, and we’re trying to assist others, you’re building a community, then them saying, Okay, well, now I can assist this person, and I can assist this person. And then because you’re kind of putting it all into operations, and freeing up that headspace of like, well, I’m the only one who knows how to do it. So if I don’t get this done, then like, everything’s gonna fall apart. Like you’re, you’re then creating all of this headspace for the whole team to just work in, like fluidity and kind of, like you said, maybe get things done in three hours and then rise to the occasion, then what else can you incorporate? What else can you incorporate? And that growth in your business? You know, seems like you just opened up so much more potential.

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, absolutely. And it also shows your team that you are confident in their ability. They’re not just doers. They’re also thinkers, right. And that’s what we want. We don’t just want to build a team of doers. We want to build a team of doers and thinkers, right? So do during these periods of time think during these periods of time, and make sure that we show our confidence, right? I don’t know about you, I mean, I’ve been managed in the past, you know, I was an operations manager at a high growth company for years. And I literally remember every time one of you know, the C, C level folks came in, and they were like, oh, no, I’m gonna do this instead. Or I’m gonna take this over and totally, you know, push my confidence level down, right? Where if I were in a position to have been assisted, right, and I could have gotten the end result, but I was assisted, I think that it could have built confidence in my ability, which ultimately ended up helping grow that business to over 2 million in our first two years. So I think like, really, what you want to do is you want to say, Hey, listen, team, you’re here for a reason. I know, I currently do this, but let’s explore the idea of how you might do it. And honestly, some of my folks that I helped through this process end up coming back to me, and they say, well, they actually did it better than I did. So it’s perfect that they took it over. Because ultimately, right? You’re not You’re You’re a founder, right? If the founders are listening to this, or if you’re a team member who has a specialization, right? Like you can’t be amazing, at every single thing, right? We want to sharpen our axe and a few key areas and make sure that we’re really effective in a handful of ways. But you know, businesses need a lot of different things, right? They’re an ecosystem, right? And we can’t expect to be every single thing in the ecosystem because guess what, you can’t remove yourself from an ecosystem if you’re every single thing.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and how much does creating an environment of ability to fail permission to fail? And dropping ego like that is seems like a critical component to this methodology as well.

[Alyson Caffrey] Oh, absolutely. I mean, listen, everyone has their own secret sauce, their own special gifts to bring I totally believe that. I do also believe that we need to be okay. We meaning business owners and I’m speaking specifically to business owners here. We need to be okay with letting our perfectionism go, period. And I have a mentor who is amazing. His name’s Dan Martell. He just wrote a book, it came out earlier this year. But he says 80%, done by someone else is 100% freaking awesome. And I stand by that I 100% do. And I think that 99.9% of the reason why folks have issues with delegating, or issues where they’ve been burned by hires in the past is because they’ve expected this complete 100% delegation, and it comes back to them with a big, shiny bow on it exactly the way that they want it. And that is a pipe dream, we cannot expect somebody who’s never done something the way that we’ve done it, without the brain that’s between our two ears to be able to get the same exact results. This whole clone yourself fallacy. It’s just not realistic. And I think what we need to do is just be honest with ourselves and say, Hey, listen, what is the 80%, that’s non negotiable, so that I can now free up my time to focus on other growth initiatives and do some things that are really going to propel my business forward, or really invest right in my family. So if that’s the case, if you’ve been in a position where you’ve been neglecting your personal health, neglecting your personal relationships, right? Can I get this 80% of the way off my plate so that I can go have dinner with my spouse? For some at some point during this week? Right? So those trade offs, I think, really do pour into our cup, and we don’t realize how much of an impact they make until honestly, we don’t have them?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I think that communication is key. That was the hardest lesson I had to learn when I started my own business, because I would like, my brother works with me in my business, I would send him stuff. We you know, we have project management tool we have, you know, we’re working on our apps working on it. But I would send him stuff. And it would come back to me and I’m like, but no, like, why didn’t you do this? And like, I started to realize all the things that I don’t include in that comp communication, because I just was like, well, you should just know how to do this? Well, no, he should not just know, he knows the technical side. But he doesn’t know what my expectation is. He doesn’t see what’s in my head that I’m looking for. And so it was definitely a lesson in over communicating so that expectations are there. And that also gave him a better ability to ask better questions. So while it took me a little bit more time on the front end to put, you know, the things into our project management tool for him to complete. He was it still made it faster in the long term for us to get things done, because he could ask better questions, and he could get his work done faster. And then now, you know, we’re seven years in our business, things have started to get a little bit more streamlined, but it takes time and practice and effort on my part.

[Alyson Caffrey] I love that example. I think that’s that’s beautiful. how that worked out for you and your brother?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, you know, we’re lucky because you know, working with families working with family well, um, I think so many good things for people to think about. If if there was kind of any last thing you want to say about your method, or taking breaks and avoiding burnout, kind of what’s one last piece of advice you would give folks?

[Alyson Caffrey] Oh, absolutely. So actually, I talked about this this morning to my community. So the number one thing, if you want to kind of strip away everything that we’ve talked about, is, in order to build competence in how you operate, make sure to prioritize your physical health. And so if you’re so tied into your business, that you actually can’t feel like you can nourish your body with whole foods, you can drink enough water, you can sleep enough you can move your body at whatever cadence you feel comfortable, start to assess how you can make those things happen as soon as humanly possible. And you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, right, we need to just do really critical things to make sure that we are nourished as a person. And that’s kind of like the first level of accessing the sabbatical method life is making sure that we have our basic needs covered. And I think we show up as better professionals, better spouses, better fathers and mothers and better partners and better everything. If we have those basic needs covered. And I think from there, I have so confident that you will have the capacity inside of your decision making brain to be able to get to the next step from there but begin there, begin with that confidence a you know, a person who is rested and fed and you know, have moving their body, right, someone who is at a baseline healthy can move forward into larger projects and high performing projects and high performing businesses with competence. So it’s such

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] a good reminder. Yes, and something we all need to hear over and over and over again. Because when we use the hustle mode, it’s like the first thing to go. So thank you for drilling that into our brains. Okay, so the last five questions that I asked every person on this podcast just because I get so many good nuggets of wisdom and I love it so much. But when you are working on your own personal growth or personal development or learning, where do you go? What’s your resource and tool?

[Alyson Caffrey] Oh, I love books. I’m a voracious reader. Surely you can maybe see above me, but like my books are my lifeline. I really, really Do appreciate all the knowledge and wisdom that you know is there. A podcast that I specifically also listened to a brand that I really like is called Family brand. They talk about how to approach your business as intentionally as you approach your family. So a lot of folks have like business friends, but they don’t have family brands. So I really, really enjoy that podcast as well, when I’m looking for a quick injection of excitement and endings.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Do you have a current favorite book right now? Totally, what did I just finished,

[Alyson Caffrey] I just finished essentialism for a second time. And I have two little boys under three. And I read it back in 2014 when it first came out, but I just read it again. And it’s taken on like a whole new perspective since I have become a mom. And I’m like working through all these things. So essentialism is what I just read. I really love it. One of my favorites is atomic habits by James clear. Yep,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] that’s a good one. That’s good one. Okay, would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

[Alyson Caffrey] I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies, I can surely hold a fun conversation and be light and bubbly and all the things but I go home and I crash super hard. So the way that I recharge is totally with my nose in a book hanging out, you know, at home with my kids and my spouse. That’s awesome.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And the same way, I had to rear my second podcast recording, and I had a client meeting today. So like by after this call, it’s going to be like, mundane tasks for the rest of the afternoon. Oh, yeah,

[Alyson Caffrey] it’s lights out. It’s like, I’ll respond to this email, but I’m not making any more big decisions. Totally.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yep. What is something that you have on your goal list for this year, either personal or professional?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, my goal is for this year is Lauren on my team love her to absolute dad, she’s been with me for over three years. She’s currently like head of our Client Services right now. And I really want her to be Chief of Staff and just be like our super duper champion for our entire team. So we’re working on that transition. She’s super excited about it. And honestly, I think she’s going to crush it like absolutely more than anyone’s ever crushed her role. So yeah, I’m excited to uplevel Lauren to Chief and stuff,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] that’s exciting. Piece of advice that you’ve gotten from someone that has stuck with you.

[Alyson Caffrey] I heard a talk one time, it was a gentleman who used to train Special Forces up in Canada. And he had this really amazing quote, he said, Don’t chase your dreams, hunt your reality. And I loved it. I think it was just so enlightening, because I think, you know, it kind of goes with that whole, like life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you kind of thing. And it really does put you in the seat of being able to control the outcomes in your own life. And I love just also the intentionality behind it. Right? Like when you think of a hunter, you think of like, days of preparation, and like, you know, rustling through the leaves, and like, you know, stocking and doing the whole thing, right? And that’s how I feel like we should prepare to live our lives, right? So that when something when we have an opportunity, we can capitalize on it right away, right? And jump in and say no, no, I’ve been preparing for this, right? Versus just this like hamster wheel of chasing your dreams, right? This thing that might happen at some point, right? Well, let’s just like make the landscape the best possible way it can be for us to be able to hunt our reality. So I love that quote very much. And I actually frequently think about it. Well, because

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] we’ve talked on this podcast a few times about like, how I think we are a culture of comparison, and assuming overnight successes. So we see people, whether it’s in, like, well, how is that person able to afford that house? What do they do for a living? Or like, how is the coach doing so much more than me? Like, how do they have such a bigger audience? I’m doing all the things. Instead of just like, like you said, preparing for exactly what we want, because you don’t know what they’re doing. And maybe they’re working towards the goal. That doesn’t even make sense for you. Maybe your family is your biggest priority, and they don’t have kids in the span. Like maybe, you know, like, working for what you want. I love that. That’s such a great reminder.

[Alyson Caffrey] Thanks. Yeah, I also think, yeah, that comparison thing is a challenge. Because you also don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes of other people, right? Maybe somebody has a huge following, but maybe they have a terrible relationship with their family and friends. Right? So you really don’t know like you really don’t know. And so I think focusing on your own thing, focusing on adding value to the communities and adding value to the ones that you serve. And then obviously adding value in your personal and professional relationships. And just keeping those blinders on is going to serve you I mean, it’s one of the most old school tactics and honestly, that’s one of the reasons why I love operations is because there’s no like newfangled fancy ways of doing things, right. This is all like tried and true methods, right? Like the things that are non negotiable. I love it. I love the basics. It’s just so freeing to understand that like, we don’t need very much more than what we’re already equipped with to have the life that we imagine.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yes, that’s so good. Okay, what is a non negotiable in your life? Speaking of non negotiables

[Alyson Caffrey] Ah, I love my family. I love to spend as much human like humanly possible time with my two young boys. I have a lot of bruises to prove it And my spouse, like he is just my biggest champion of all time, like anytime I’ve ever had a doubt about me about business about anything in life, he’s always been like, No, you are capable, you can do this. And so non negotiables for me are like, such consistent time with my family. And even more tactical than that, like, I don’t miss lunches, dinners or breakfasts, like any meals with my family, if I can help it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Are you all work from home household? Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, we, um, and that is something I’m trying to practice is actually taking time to eat lunch. So I’ll work on that. And then I’ll get to the other piece. But I think it’s a beautiful thing because mealtime is when so many amazing conversations, like just happen off the cuff like, you know, you don’t you’re not missing anything. And with a three to one or three, I’m sure those are very animated meals.

[Alyson Caffrey] Oh, my gosh, sometimes at points frustrating, I’ll admit, I will say to that, like, I think the act of having something else to do, right. It’s like, you know, when you’re meditating, and there’s something that you’re doing like for me, I’ve never meditated just sitting still, I’ve always been like doing yard work or like doing something else with my hands. I feel like we access a level of like creativity while we’re eating our meals, because we have something else that like our one side of our brain is focusing on. So then we can just say the craziest things. So my kids will just like out with, like my older son, specifically, because the younger one just screens quite a bit. And he’s just like yelling and wants to be, you know, having lots of attention. But yeah, Frank will be saying the craziest things at dinnertime. And honestly, it is just the sweetest, most fun experience ever.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That’s so great. Well, Alison, thank you so much for being here for sharing all of your amazing wisdom for inspiring us to lean in to what we need in supporting ourselves and our teams. If people want to learn more about you make sure they can get notified when your amazing book comes out. How do they do that?

[Alyson Caffrey] Yeah, operations. agency.com has all the goodies ways to get in touch with me, you can purchase the book from there as well. And also Honestly, I really, really just love connecting with folks. I’m most active on LinkedIn. So if you want to send me a message, I will likely respond within the day or two. And if you have any specific ops questions, I really pride myself on being very accessible.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Well, thank you so much for being here. I don’t know about you. But I needed to hear some of those things today about taking care of ourselves, prioritizing ourselves, avoiding burnout, supporting your teams like really looking holistically at our work and how we show up. I think I love the way that Allison really reframed all of that for us so that we can show up as our best selves, not just for the people around us, but for ourselves as well. You can grab all of the resources and information on Alyson’s book at https://easystylewithsami.com/19. I really think that you’ll find some of the things that she’s sharing in those resources to be super helpful for you. And your approach and rethinking and reframing or even just talking with your management and your team leaders on how you can rethink the way that you show up in the way that your team is fully supported. So, again, the shownotes https://easystylewithsami.com/19. Check us out on YouTube at Easy Style with Sami as well. If you want to watch video versions of these podcast episodes. Make sure you subscribe whether you’re listening or watching so you don’t miss out on a single episode. They come out every Thursday, and I thank you so much for listening. Share it with a friend and I’ll see you in the next one.


Burnout is real, but it can be avoided. When it comes to work, people usually have the best intentions but don’t know how to support their teams or employees. Yes, perks are great but it often starts with systems so that people can take advantage of those perks and the work doesn’t suffer. 

As a leader, having the right systems in place ensures that your work can carry on, even in your absence or if your staff changes. Alyson Caffrey shares some amazing insights for how we can live our best lives, prioritize our needs and support each other win the workplace, all at the same time.

In this episode we discuss

  • What employees are looking for from their leaders.
  • How systems can help alleviate stress and pressure.
  • Why the work day doesn’t look the same as it used to.
  • Personalizing incentives.
  • Building in a sabbatical thought process to you daily work.

Want to skip ahead?

[1:10] Who is Alyson Caffrey?
[3:49] What is the state of burnout post COVID?
[12:06] Why a one size fits all approach doesn’t work to workplace benefits.
[14:52] Rethinking what a sabbatical means.
[29:52] Where does Alyson go for personal development?
[30:48] Is Alyson an introvert or extrovert?
[31:26] One goal for the upcoming year.
[32:08] Piece of advice that has stuck with her
[34:52] What’s a non-negotiable?

Alyson Caffrey

Alyson Caffrey

Founder, Operations Agency