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Getting Out of Your Head as a Leader
Sean: Hey, guys, welcome back. It’s another episode of Leadership Stack Live. And tonight I do have a special guest. I am going to introduce my co-speaker, my co-host today, and her name is Le-an Lacaba. If you don’t know, she is the CEO of 2XYou Executive Services. She is a career coach known as the ‘virtual ate’ on YouTube. She is also a content creator like myself. You might want to check out her website and her YouTube channel. Her website is leanlai.com. That’s her website. You might want to check her out there, or just search for her on YouTube. – ‘The Virtual Ate’, very patriotic, yours truly. And she’s also a published author of her own book. Hey Le-an, welcome to the show.
Le-an: Hey, Sean. Hi, everyone. Super excited to be here.
Sean: All right. And we got an hour and I know an hour may not seem like it’s long enough for the slew of different questions that we have right now. So we’ve got to jump right into it.
Sean: The first question is, how did you figure out the kind of leader that you want to be? Since a lot of people are probably tired of me answering this in my own show? I’m going to let you go ahead.
Le-an: So this is such an interesting question. I’ve never actually thought about this. So more background – the reason why I’m ‘Virtual Ate’ is because I’m the eldest of four and eldest of ten cousins. So I’ve always been used to being the leader, used to be always being the person who’s right, just because I usually was because I was ‘ate’. But then when I started actually managing people, it was such a different experience of having to acknowledge that I really need to hire people who are smarter than me. I can’t be the smartest person in the room.
Le-an: So I did start off as kind of really an admitted person. And people who I used to manage, I’m so sorry because that was my mindset. I just used to be a really bad manager. I was just like, ‘Oh, you just do this because I say so.’ Or I would be – I never really did the micromanage part. I’m glad I didn’t, but I went through having to see myself as a bad manager or a bad leader before I made the switch of like, ‘Okay, no, I don’t want to be this.’
Le-an: I also studied a bunch of books. I’ve studied like Mind Valley. I studied Simon Sinek, I studied so many mentors of mine that I love. I still study them now to decide who I wanted to be as a leader. And that’s basically becoming a person who just keeps in mind that people are human. The people I work with are human, and the people I hire and manage are human. And I kind of just start coaching like, ‘okay, this way, this way, this way. I’m like, Oh, you can try this one.’ And like, I’m helping them out along the way wherever they want to go.
Sean: That’s a very good answer. And I would answer it probably in the same way. Just read and listen to people who you want to emulate. So mine would be Dave Ramsey, John Maxwell. It’s not as if we want to be – one is to one them. But there are principles in their leadership that are just, something to behold and something that you can’t just turn a blind eye to because it works and it’s human and it’s what people are looking for in a leader today. So really good. That’s a good answer there.
Sean: Next question. Do you separate your personal values from the values of the company you’re managing? How do you prevent burnout as a leader of of a young company? That’s two questions right there for you.
Le-an: Yeah. So that was the other interesting lesson that I had to learn also very early on when I became CEO of a different company. I became CEO of a US publishing company before. And one of the things that I had to learn was that I did have to do that separation of my personal values and the company values because they had to be two separate things. So when I started 2XYou, I kind of grabbed the same thing of my values are this, but everyone else doesn’t – I had to put in the flexibility to have other people be open to being themselves.
Le-an: For example, right now in 2XYou, our main five company values are someone who is kindly confident, you know who you are, but you have the empathy to show up depending on who you’re talking to. We have passionately curious. You know, you’re an FBI and BDO same time, you’re finding information and you find ways to get that. We have someone who’s passionately curious. I am now repeating some of them. For some reason, my brain just went blank. We have five superheroes. Basically, I picked five values that I knew that if these are the kind of people that we have, we can succeed no matter what other values that they have. And for me, my own values are curiosity, passion, and creativity. I didn’t have to put all of that inside of 2XYou. Because I needed to have that gap of knowing that there’s going to be a lot of different people who are going to come across our company, whether that’s going to be our clients or the people that we hire. And I had to make that space.
Le-an: And then how do you prevent burnout as a leader of a young company? Very interesting question as I’m currently going through burnout, but how I manage it is usually I just take a break. That’s like, next week my calendar is literally ‘do not book a meeting.’ That’s more a reminder for me, not for anyone else, because I keep doing that. I’m like, I’ll take a day off. Like, ‘No, I can add one more meeting.’ So a really bad habit that I’m trying to break. But how I manage it is to take a break. I read I go for a walk, I watch funny videos, or I play the Sims 4. So find the things that you love to do. Like one of the things that I have now, and if I can find it would be really cool. But I have a post-it note where I just roll a Dungeons and Dragons dice and it means something to me. Like if I’m really burnt out, I roll it and I’m like, Oh, read a book. So I just actually plop down and read a book, or play The Sims 4 and I actually play it. So it’s finding the things that you love and making time to actually do them is just the simplest way to avoid burnout and of course, surrounding yourself with the best people.
Sean: That’s a really fantastic answer and I couldn’t agree more. And this is why doing AMAs with a co-host is very good and very interesting because we have different perspectives. So my take on the first question is with SEO-Hacker. When you say personal values and the values of the company you’re managing. With SEO-Hacker since I’m also the founder. All of the values stemmed from my values.
Sean: Now, like Le-an, I didn’t import all of my values into them. But what I really wanted to affect the culture of the team, that’s what I injected. So we hire by them, we fire by them, we reward by them, we penalize by them. So everyone has to uphold them. Now, not everyone is perfect. In all of our six company values, some people are stronger in some of them, some people are weaker in some of them. And that’s okay. That’s what makes a good team when we’re strong, where other people are weak and vice versa. So in my case, that’s how we did it and we do expect that everyone on the team would uphold it. In fact, I’ve shared this before. We memorize our core values and we recite them every week like a football or basketball team because we’re playing to win.
Sean: A burnout, I’m the same as Le-an. Just take a break, take a breather, and block off a specific day or weekend. For me, it’s probably a weekend. And what I do like is going outdoors, going out camping, being in the water, swimming, you know, being on the beach, and the sea, and the lake, whatever it is, just going out there in the sun. That’s what refreshes me and what keeps me in my game mode come the workday. And for me, that’s a good way to put it because if you’re burned out and you feel like you just don’t want to work anymore. It’s contagious. And you might spread it to different people in the team. And if the CEO is doing that, then that’s pretty dangerous, right? So good stuff. Good stuff.
Sean: Alright. Next question. How do you prevent the power of being a leader from getting to your head? Alright, this is about ego.
Le-an: Yeah, that goes back to the beginning of my story of like – when I became CEO, I was 20 years old when I became CEO. And I let the power go into my head immediately, and I had to be brought down also immediately. Basically, the fastest way to do that is to realize that you are not the person anymore who is going to create the results. You’re actually the support now for the people who are creating the results. So that’s the biggest thing that I still carry to this day is that I am only as good as the people that I support that I work with. That was the one that brought me down of realizing, ‘oh, no, yeah, I might have been this amazing employee when I was still the employee. But now that I’m the leader, I can’t think that way anymore. It’s going to hurt me more and it’s going to hurt other people as well.
Le-an: So that was the biggest one of like, I was no one, that was kind of the thought in my head. I was really no one. I became CEO. Yes, because of hard work, but I still had a lot more to grow and improve. And also just keep that in mind of like – I can only be or the company can only be as successful as the people that I work with and the people I support.
Sean: That’s very good. And we have a lot of things in common, how we think and our weaknesses. So there were points in my leadership when it gets to my head, especially when people are just straight up going against the tide, you know, it ticks me off. So those are the times that I snap and it gets to my head and I just tell them off. I’m more of a straight shooter, so I could really pierce some people and upset them with my words. And those are the times that I would say, if I could turn back time and change them, I would change them and handle it very differently.
Sean: And you’re right in saying that if you realize that a CEO, the endgame is you’re going to be helping your people and serving them rather than you being served rather than you doing the work. Then that really changes your perspective and helps you to realize that, ‘Oh, okay, if I let this get into my head, I’m going to be doing this all my life until the day I die. I’m going to be working like a horse.’ And that’s not the future that I desire. Right? So we have to change and adapt and humble ourselves there.