Batoul Ajlouni From Workaholic to Burnout to a Life reinvented.

architect burnout entrepreneur reinvented resilience resilient workaholic Jun 06, 2022

Hello and welcome back to KimTalks. I'm your host, Kim Hayden, and I'm super excited as we talk. Resilience and moving forward. Growing forward, leaning forward and just loving life. And you know who better to help us today is Batoul. Batoul is here to share some of her insight around her book that she has written is ditching success. I love that ditching success so she's going to have a very different kind of perspective on how to live a full life and and everything that she's learned in her journey. Now, do note she is a through and through entrepreneur. Even though she received her architectural degree and worked for a few years, she got kind of like, what's next? So at 24, just 24, she dove into entrepreneurialism and co-founded her first company. And then she helped grow into a multi international I.T. corporation before having to ditch her career at the very height of it. But to all is passionate about sharing her 30 years of experience as a career woman in a male dominated business world and a professional who moved from workaholic to burnout to life reinvent it, she hopes, by sharing her own journey, she can help others struggling to find their answers. Hello, Batoul. Welcome.


Hey, Kim. So happy New Year. Thanks for having me.


Absolutely. So did I get all that? Did I? Did I get it all right?


That was pretty good.


Awesome. So this is, again, the beauty of our global world and where we're moving in. And the age of knowledge is that I'm here in Calgary, Alberta. And Batoul where are you?


Well, I am in Amman, Jordan, a small country in the Middle East.


Amazing. You're born and raised. Correct.


Born and raised in Jordan. That's true. I've done quite a bit of traveling business, and as a tourist, I love traveling so I've been around for a while. I've been in the U.S. as an exchange student when I was 16 and stayed there for a year in California. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. Now, I had a great time. And since then, I'm here now. But I've done quite a lot of travel.


Amazing. Now you. Okay, so let's go. Let's give me what we're going to frame up. What brought you to becoming a published author. So let's take a step back. Take us kind of on that journey of who and how you moved through the last 30 years and what has brought you to this point in your life. So share with us a little bit about your background.


Okay. So as you said, I'm an architect. Oh, worked as an architect for about just a little less than two years before I figured out it was not quite as challenging as I wanted it to be. Although architecture is challenging in general, but in Jordan at that time and I'm talking and the eighties there were still quite small projects here and there, so I wasn't quite challenged. And I've been known to love a challenge. So I got an opportunity to work with a few colleagues to start a new company, and I just jumped to it. And the funny thing is that the company was in computer graphics and animation, which has nothing to do with architecture other than being in the design field. And it was, that was, that was in 1989.


Yeah. And now I've been back before. That was part of our lingo. That's when I've been cutting edge at that time.


And it was, and it was actually that company was the very first professional computer graphics and animation company in our region in the Middle East. So that was quite a challenge because we had to do a lot of educating, educating the public and to the clients and what computer graphics and animation can actually do for you. Working with that, it was quite a trip a few years later. Are the company got acquired by an I.T. company that was also just started around the same time and are you went along with the package? Sort of the package of the company. And then I started working my I managed to become a member of the group. I managed that group for a few for that sorry that that member. So my company for a few years and then I moved to sort of handling the business development for the whole group. And this is when we started working and as a group growing internationally in several countries or into different products. It's a software company. So it is a solutions provider. That's again something completely new to me. But I enjoyed doing all the business development. I always enjoy learning. I love learning. It's, it's, it's always, you know, it is I've always been so excited about everything new that I can come, you know, to. And so that was that and 30 years into that lot of work.


So you jump from architecture, which is finding the issue and creating a solution. Architecture is pretty robust. And then you go into the first field and then that emerges into the second field and this is all front line. And so how do you go from. I want I want to consume everything. I want to grow. I want to challenge the world. I want to, you know, have all this energy and make stuff happen to burnout and that like seriously like what is how do we how do we like what is that what does that look like? So. So that way I know if I'm there.


Though, I'll give you a few tips to know if you're there or not. In a world you do a lot of that non stop what you just said for 30 years, day and night weekends, vacations, holidays. You work, work, work all the time. And if you're committed, as I am I was and I still am committed about anything I do it gets there. It gets to you. I did not know. I didn't I didn't realize what was going on. This is the whole thing. You don't realize what's going on. You just think you're just tired. It's just fatigue. It's just, you know, I just need a weekend off. I just need a few days off of vacation. But when it doesn't happen. What? It doesn't do it for you time after time after time and you start suffering from so many different symptoms of burnout. It just gets to you after a while and you lose it. It changes you. It really changes.


You. What were some of the symptoms that you identified? And then I want to dove into the book and how the book helped move you through. So, so tell me what some of the symptoms were for sure.


Well, this if I can just summarize them in five points or fight different categories. So one is emotional, and I think this is one of the triggers that hits you at the beginning that when you when you start figuring out something is just not right, it's just more than that. That's when your mood swings. You're angry. You become a different person. You're not happy and you feel it. All these emotions just are all over the place. There's a physical aspect, of course, the physical aspect can take you from continuous headaches to high blood pressure to sweating all the time. Cold sweat. You can't sleep anymore. Your heart rate goes up the roof. It's all the time. And you're just not feeling the fatigue. And everything is just everything is wrong inside of you. Okay. But again, it's just, you know, there's nothing really wrong there. Okay. And then there's the mental aspect. So the mental aspect is when your memory starts to deteriorate, deteriorating your short term memory for sure. But we start speaking talking in a sentence, and in the middle of a sentence, you face a block, have no idea what you were talking about on a continuous sentence block right there in the middle of it. That happens. Your mental abilities, your focus is really not as used to be your attention span. It's not like it used to be. And all of that gets into the physical and of course, the emotional and the spiritual aspect. You are still down. Your spirit is down. You are negative. You don't want to do anything. You don't want to be with anyone. It's just all of it together. And add to that the fifth element, which is the psychological element, okay? You are depressed. You become depressed. And the thing is, all of this together happens. It changes you inside and out. It infects your mind body and soul until you you know that you have become a different person and you start hating yourself and that's when it happens. You realize something's not right. You can't enjoy a day off. You cannot enjoy what you used to love your work, your passion. My work was my passion for 30 years when I started waking up in the morning and wanting to not go to work anymore, hating the idea of having to go to work, that was it.


Okay, so I think a lot of people are where you were at. A lot of people, I think a lot of people, especially over the last few years with the pandemic and not being there, will not have a mobility. Right. We can't find relief though. A lot of people haven't been able to find relief for going to a gym or travel to visit family or any of these other things. So I think we're seeing higher rates of this feeling of burnout. And so forth, so on. And we're starting to see that numbers where people are not going back to the corporate jobs. So this is where I want to dove into ditching success. Can you share with us first give us an overview as to what the book is and what you offer within it. And then we're going to walk through if, you know you're at that burnout rate. Are you at the point of where you need to find your own digital success? Does that make sense of who first you're with us, an overview of your book and then what your journey was to create that book?


Sure, sure. So Digital Success is a memoir. It is. It actually is about how I turned from a workaholic, and I describe parts of me that was working hard before. Before I even started in school and all the moving from workaholic to extreme burnout and the journey in between establishing the company, having to do what I had to do all the time, and then moving to that strange feeling and strange behavior that I I've ended up in. Without realizing it and going through all that, I share the moments that I decide to. I made the choice to let go before I was supposed to be ready because I had to. I had no other choice. I describe all of that. And then I go into the parts after. And the after is very interesting because to a workaholic, it is a killer to just say, I'm stopping work and I have no idea what I'm going to do. I'm literally going into the unknown, leaping into the unknown, the unfamiliar, because I need to take a break before it is too late for me. That journey alone, that period after you let go and before you even know what's going on and before you find your purpose again is a state of confusion. And I describe it a lot. I'm supposed to have gone into retirement. Okay. And that alone is a journey, because I wasn't ready for it. Okay. But I had to and describe that stage you're in that limbo state you're in. Okay. And then having to change all of that because of the pandemic and what happens in the pandemic, it changed my whole plans of what I wanted to do with my retirement So all of this goes into the book. The whole idea, look, that the whole idea of the book came about. I've always wanted to write a book, but I wasn't. It's nothing. It's nothing like I wanted a career out of out of writing is just I wanted to write and I never got the chance to do it. The whole idea of the book when I when I when I finished work, I thought, okay, I'm going to start writing at some point. The whole idea of the book came about when one of my colleagues at one point or one visited the company and one of my colleagues asked me, so how's it going? How are you doing now that you're retired? You know, relaxed and all that? I could not answer him because I was always happy. But I was set. I was excited and thrilled but I was confused. I wanted to do everything. And at the same time, I had no idea what I wanted to do and I didn't want to do anything. It was all these feelings together that just went through my mind just to be able to answer the God of a simple question of how are you doing now? So that moment, I thought, you know what? I'm just going to write about my experience and hopefully help those that are going through what I went through because I didn't find anyone that helped me at that point. Okay. And hopefully that will be at least something of an experience to share with them.


The memoir approach is really interesting. I would talk to another gal because she's just released a book and it was for a mom with love. So it's about it's actually the memoirs of all of her contact with her daughter as her daughter was going through cancer. And so it's a really but it's interesting because you're talking about a very pivotal point of your life. And you opened up the book, you said to everybody, come on in and learn what you can. So with you, you keep talking about retirement and I just can't see you sitting still. I have a feeling there's a lot in there. So if you were somebody to pick this book up, they're in the same position. So we're seeing a lot of women in their forties right now who are going I don't think I want to go back to that corporate job. But there's this huge shift from being a corporate employee to becoming an entrepreneur. And there's a lot of a lot of people who have a real challenge shifting their mindset, their accountability, how they aligned people around them. So if somebody hitting hard core burn out there doesn't want to go back to that corporate office, it's now where do you think that they can get some glean, some insight as to what they need to do next? Step in your book. Like, what are some specific things that you share within your book that maybe could help others?


Okay. Oh, the when I describe that, it's actually the second part of the book where I describe what I went through in the moment I left work. There are two stages before you actually reach to where you want to reach. The first stage is sort of like when you detach from whatever you were doing before that it's a period of self-reflection that you have to go through. Just do whatever it is you wanted to do. Do nothing, stare into thin air. I binge watched the Little House on the Prairie. I love 200 episodes in a month. And you ask me why? Because from the corporate life that I was in with all the complexities and sophistication of the business and the and the suits and the investors and all of that, I wanted simplicity and innocence and the good old days. And, you know, all that is just a flip through that I had to do. I took my time with it. I sat in the garden doing nothing. I travel just for a little while before the pandemic hit and all that. So, but it was, it was a period of self-reflection that I was going through. Okay. And it didn't end the moment I started my next phase, but it sort of helps you do whatever you want to do. Okay? Organize things down I share in the book. I don't share it in the sort of in the sort of self-help. Now I just say whatever I did, okay? And it really helped me and I wrote everything down, every single idea that came to my mind. Small, big, silly, serious business, fun hobby, everything that came in mind. I just wrote it down. It was like a brain dump. And that helped me clearly come up with new things that I always wanted to do. Okay. And then you start thinking more of, Okay, I don't want to go on doing this or not to. I just want to play around with it. Okay? I run through it for a while and see if you want to do it or not. Things you enjoy. This is a whole thing. Things you want to do, okay? And take your time doing it. The next phase is your exploration. Okay? So, so you go through the reflection and then you go through the exploration, which is that I did a bit of that here and there and trying to figure out what I wanted to do took my time with it until I actually I learned German. I reached a C one level in two classes with kids that have just graduated from high school. And that was pretty embarrassing.


Oh, I know. They probably thought you were pretty cool. I talked to younger kids. They see somebody old come in and they go, Oh, you must be cool because no, you're never too old to learn. What languages do you speak?


Oh, I see. Okay, so Arabic is my first language. English is my second language. French used to be my third language until I learned German. So German is my third and French as my fourth.


Wow. Okay. You know, coming from that region, that's pretty cool. That's pretty cool. I find that Europe and, and Middle Eastern countries are far more progressive when it comes to multiple, multiple languages. Sure. Absolutely. So, okay, back to the book. So we've gone through this course. I mean, this I do think that timing wise, this is a very good book because I think we're seeing huge shifts happening right so back to the book. Sorry, I totally interrupt. Yeah.


No problem. So after we go through the second phase of exploration, you will end up with some idea about what you want to do. Now, the beauty about the time we're living in right now is what we did not have a few years back, just a few years back with technology. And I have to say what the pandemic did is really help you grow globalization to a point like never before. There's so many opportunities out there. And I see anyone, regardless of education, where you are, how old you are, what your interests are, anyone can and will find something to do online.


I absolutely agree. Well, there.


Is still so much out there.


Well, Bill Gates actually said that the pandemic he said this at like month number nine of all the lockdowns he said would that we had actually moved forward a decade in our use and our connections of technology in just one year. Right. So and I totally agree with you that there's, you know, so many opportunities. And even like with a book like did teen success, having an online course opportunity with it that literally further breaks it down, shows us your your book that has all the different ideas, your your dope book, right? Like how do you create that? How do you embrace even the silly ideas right?


Oh, there's so much that comes out of the silly ideas. So much. Yeah, so much. Because, look, there's no such thing as a silly idea that could be small, big. It could be something that you do now or something that you put out there in the back of your head and you could do later on. It's just keep an open mind when you go through this. Keep an open mind. This is a whole thing. And have faith, believe in yourself because only then you will be confident enough to know that you can do it. And hey, what could go wrong? You're done with.


Your work, you know? Absolutely. You know what I tell people all the time? Go ahead and ask and then go, oh, well, I don't know. Go ahead and ask. You're already sitting that. No, you're already sitting. No. And I 100% agree with that. I, I talked to a lot of people in regards to uniqueness. Right. So Shakespeare, Shakespeare said there's only seven original storylines yeah. Look at all the content out there. Right. And that is because each time you present you the person who's presenting, the person who is, you know, like Uber tool, who is willing to step out in front and say, hey, this is one of the experiences I've experienced, this is how I felt. And you release the shame or the uncomfortableness around it and you invite people into your storyline. It's not that your storyline is any different than, you know, of the 200 other books or 200 other speakers. It's that it's your uniqueness within your voice and how you deliver that is what will connect with others. And this is I really challenge so many people to step up and leave because right now we have like ten people that dominate the stages, right? You don't you don't get the opportunity to hear from the plethora of thought leadership out there because you have the few people sucking up the oxygen. Or is it that people are uncomfortable stepping in to that space of thought leadership because they got, well, somebody else is already doing it. Yeah, somebody else is already doing it. But they're not doing that from your lands, from your perspective, from your language.


So I speak and.


This is huge. The truth is huge. Right. And if you say, oh, well, there's not enough, it's like bake another pie, bake it up. Like I said, I think so. So what would be your what would it be a thought or something that you would impart if somebody is watching this and they identify that they're a burnout. But there is a fear because of you know, personal revenue, you know, the realities of the world. Right. What would be your advice for that person?


Well, if they have reached a point of, say, no return in terms of their current job career, whatever it is, I would say staying in there does not help anyone new to them in the family and not work not their job for sure, because you become ineffective. That's it. Leave it, ditch it. Okay. Have courage and ditch it. Now, if you're in a situation where the financials are something of a real critical aspect, I would say try to get a job and I mean a job. Okay. Something to keep you going while you're self-reflective and exploring if you need that, something to keep you going with a basic, the minimum. Okay. Yeah, get down. Step down in your lifestyle a little bit for that period. Until you know where you're headed and then go for it. If you can just take a break without having to work then that's great. Six months. A year. Couple of years maybe. It took me a while and before it took me two years before I started to actually write the book, but I took my time okay. And so I really advise that because the journey will take you to an unexpected place. Seriously, I did not expect the things I went through. It's not just where I am today. It's the whole journey of what you discover. Things you have I'm not saying your regrets. I never have regrets in my life. This is a time and place for everything. But at that point in time, I had to change personalities again. Change beliefs in terms of work was everything to me. I promoted, I encouraged, I mentored people to work, work, work and do nothing but work. And then all of a sudden I go through this and I have to flip. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like, you know, how would people believe me now if I say that? Because I used to say that all the time. Right.


But they're okay. So let's let's gross good is the enemy of great. And if you're good it starts to great. Maybe you need to step back so you can create something great right? So you know what I'm saying? Like, you really have to do so. But tool, can you share with us where our audience can find you and how can they buy your book?


Okay, so the book is available on Amazon. It's available in an e-book and in print it can be found on Amazon, different markets. I also encourage people to go to my website. That's a tool actually. Author dot com. That's a t o u l a j l o u n. I author dot com sign up for my field list. So it's just people stay updated and you can find the links to my book over there are links to my social media pages and I'll be adding more and more about the different opportunities that I may get into and, you know.


Come over to the dark side. It's all right there too. There's lots of us out here and leadership is desperately needed. Leadership is desperately needed. And thank you, thank you for stepping out of your space. A safe or norm or whatever and grabbing this and sharing very intimate and very great insight to help people navigate. Because like I said, I think it's more important today than we've ever seen because I think people are waking up going, there's got to be options.


100% 100%. All right. Well, I'm saying I'm so sorry. We have that one thing. I truly believe in this. There's a very nice quote that I like about my job. Burrows says Leap and the net will appear.


I agree with that belief and the net will appear. I absolutely agree. Somebody's got to just make that first step. Yeah. Got to make that first step. Yeah. Yeah. All right. So, folks, until next time. Please, please, please, like, comment, share, subscribe. We need your support so we can keep these resilient women out there sharing and caring and helping us live forward in a better world.

Again, thank you, Batoul.


Thank you, Kim. That was a pleasure. Thank you so.


Batoul Ajlouni is the award winning author of "Ditching Success?" She’s an entrepreneur, co-founded her company at twenty-four, and helped another grow into a multinational IT corporation, before having to “ditch” her career at the very height of it. Batoul is passionate about sharing her 30 years of experience as a career woman in a male-dominated business world, and a professional, who moved from workaholic to burnout to a life reinvented. She hopes by sharing her own journey, she can help others struggling to find answers.

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