Retired CEO Jinny Oh Unveils How Burnout Can Ruin Your Health | Podcast 24

Retired CEO Jinny Oh Unveils How Burnout Can Ruin Your Health | Podcast 24

Interview by Vianca Meyer
Published: December 08, 2023

Welcome to the 24th episode of the DesignRush Podcast.

After months of silence, WANDR owner Jinny Oh talks about her entrepreneurship career, the effects of burnout on her health, and what decision-makers should do to maintain a work-life balance.

Our host Vianca Meyer and Jinny covered a wide range of topics during their hour-long discussion, including the importance of productivity in the workplace and the benefits of remote work.

Jinny also announced plans about her future goals, including shifting her focus from design to her music career.


Who Is Jinny Oh?

Jinny Oh is an accomplished entrepreneur and innovator with a history of steering businesses toward exceptional growth. As the founder of WANDR, an award-winning product strategy and UX design firm, Jinny has established herself as a leader in creating user-centric digital experiences. Jinny is also known for her advocacy for remote work and digital nomad lifestyles, demonstrating that high-quality work can be accomplished outside traditional office environments. Beyond her professional achievements, Jinny is a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the tech and design community.

Vianca: Can you share how you recognized the burnout you were facing and the strategy you used to step away and allow others to take the reins at WANDR?

Jinny: Recognizing my burnout was a process.

When you're an entrepreneur, you often find yourself in survival mode, with work piling up non-stop. It felt like being dragged on concrete, unable to stop.

Entrepreneurs often choose this challenging path, but it can lead to exhaustion. For me, the realization came one day when I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize myself. I noticed how much I had aged since starting the company.

Another sign was my constant unhappiness.

I tried everything from retreats to self-help books to find happiness, but nothing worked. The turning point was a health crisis – I had to be rushed to the hospital.

This was a wake-up call about neglecting my health due to work pressures. After coming home, I knew I had to make drastic changes to avoid heading down a path that could end my life.

How did you deal with the burnout while undergoing this transition?

Dealing with burnout while transitioning was about taking it day by day. Some days were extremely hard, especially seeing the workload and not even wanting to get out of bed. Everyone around you needs something, and you barely have time for yourself.

After my health incident, I had a profound realization that I needed to prioritize myself.

It was about finding a balance and understanding that without personal well-being, everything else loses its significance. So, it involved making conscious decisions to take better care of myself and learning to delegate and trust others to handle responsibilities at work.

What were the hardest parts of managing a business, and how did you pivot to a company structure that better supported your well-being?

Embracing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) framework was a turning point for me.

It's a system designed to help structure a company where everyone, from the leadership team to the entire organization, takes full ownership and accountability. We started working with an EOS implementer who conducts quarterly workshops, helping us stay on track with our goals and vision.

This structure has been a game changer, providing clarity and direction. It's been crucial in teaching me how to manage, organize, and lead a team effectively. I've learned a lot about focusing on what's important to achieve our larger vision, rather than getting lost in day-to-day details.

The hardest part, I'd say, is learning to let go. As a leader and founder, you often believe your way is the best.

But true scaling and growth require trusting your team and stepping back to let them do their work. It's about understanding that things won't always be perfect or done in the way you envisioned, but that's part of growing a successful and scalable business.

Do you think the 80/20 Rule allows entrepreneurs to still achieve success, even when they move away from perfectionism?

It's crucial to understand what matters most to you as an entrepreneur.

Some creative entrepreneurs prioritize perfection in their craft, and that works for them. In my case, while I appreciate the creative aspect, my focus is on running a business efficiently.

Striving for 80% perfection has been my approach, recognizing that complete perfection isn't always scalable. It's more about creating a viable business model rather than just crafting a vision.

Embracing this mindset is essential for scalable growth, especially for entrepreneurs who need to move beyond perfectionism to achieve broader success.

In your view, what encapsulates the essence of being a great leader?

Reflecting on my decade-long journey, my understanding of leadership has evolved significantly, especially given my early start and struggles with imposter syndrome.

I just to equate leadership with working tirelessly and setting an example through relentless hustle. But now, I believe true leadership is about personal expansion and growth. It requires a degree of self-focus, which can be misconstrued as selfishness but is essential for holistic development.

In our social media-driven world, where hustle culture is glorified, I've learned that this approach has limitations. To elevate a startup or any venture to new heights, a leader needs to invest in personal growth as much as in the business.

It's not just about the hours put into work; it's about understanding who you are, learning from your experiences, and being able to empathize with your team on a human level.

People look for leaders who can relate to their life beyond work and who understand their struggles and aspirations when they're away from their desks. Leadership, therefore, is as much about being a guide in the personal aspects of life as it is about steering professional success.

We thank Jinny for this exclusive conversation. If you enjoyed it too, be sure to follow her on LinkedIn and stay tuned for more of our interviews with industry experts!

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