Sanity Notes #012- A surprising tool for preventing founder burnout

Looking to navigate or prevent founder burnout? Here’s one helpful rock to look under.

Matt Munson
3 min readMay 31, 2023


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Looking for some support? If now is the time to consider coaching (or a CEO peer circle) reach out here.

When I first considered CEO coaching a decade ago, during my time as a venture-backed founder, I found every coach I met with too ‘crunchy’ and non-tactical. At that time, there were few if any ex-CEOs working as coaches, and the coaches I met used wonky language that made the hair on my neck stand up.

Largely as a result of this initial exposure to wonky coaching, the tagline on the Sanity Labs website, since we began, has been Enough With the Fluff.

That tagline is not meant to imply we are in some way above applying any number of popular coaching modalities or creating a safe space to explore feelings, childhood experiences, or lifelong patterns we all carry from our families of origin. On the contrary, when helpful, we get after all of that!

It is meant to imply that we are committed to bringing situational awareness, not only those tools: awareness of what it is to be in the CEO, founder, or leadership seat.

We get it because we have been there ourselves.

So when I tell you today about a tool for increasing your efficacy in your work and for helping you increase joy and prevent burnout, bear with me if it sounds a little woo-woo. (As a friend of mine likes to say, we are aiming for one ‘woo’ here no more, I promise!)

The tool I am talking about, which I have been playing with in my own life of late, is using your sense of your own energy as a major data source in decision-making.

When you are considering what to work on, which parts of your role to lean into, or two paths of a fork in the road, in addition to thinking through the options, take a moment (or a day!) and consider:

Which of these paths cause me to feel more energy in my body?

Which option causes you to feel your shoulders lift, your breath ease, or your face open up?

If you have a hard time tracking this for yourself at first, have a trusted friend watch you. Walk through each of the options, and then ask your friend to share what she or he observes in your energy, posture, and expression.

Often, in coaching work with CEO clients, we spend time looking at their role and how they spend their time in the week-to-week. There are many downsides to the CEO role, but one upside is the opportunity to shape your own role as the company scales.

Great CEOs take this opportunity to lean into the parts of the job that bring them joy, that they are great at, and that therefore benefit the company most.

Believe it or not, you can shape this role into a better role for you (if you are willing to slow down and consider the question!)

Slowing down, and looking at your energy around certain areas of your work, is a great way to design your own role (CEO or not!) or to assess ways of spending your time in life.

Give it a try. I would love to hear how the experience goes for you. Replies to this email are open. 😊

Big hug from LA!


Looking for some support? If now is the time to consider coaching (or a CEO peer circle) reach out here.



Matt Munson

CEO coach @ Angel investor. Startup founder. Committed to helping leaders feel less alone in the journey.