Brain drains

Dec 12, 2016

It seems like we have more of them ever to contend with. I’m talking about brain drains. The things that literally suck the life force out of you. When you get to be my age – 58 – it seems like you have more of them than ever. They rarely go away. They just keep building.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take some action to change the situation. In fact, you probably NEED to if you are going to be happy (although none of us gets out of here alive in the end)!

Here are some big brain drains and what you can do:

  • Negative/hostile business partners. Time to separate. Why are you doing it if not to enjoy your work and your life? One of you has to go. Either you or them. Which will it be? The important thing is to take action and not be stuck. There are too many real problems you can’t easily control that affect your business – the economy, clients, banks. You have to deal with the ones you can.
  • Bad personal relationships. They are a cancer on your spirit. Move on. It may be painful and it may be costly but you have to do it or you will eventually be crushed. Divorce is expensive but so is staying together in terms of what it does to your spirit. Either fix the relationship – do what you can to make it work – or if you figure out you cannot make it better, get out and move on. There has to be something/someone better out there for you, although it may not seem like it at first.
  • Bad clients. They beat you down on fee. They don’t respect you or your time. They demotivate your good people. They don’t pay their bills. Yet they may expect you to jump at a moment’s notice in spite of them not jumping for you. Get rid of them! The only reason you suffer with ANY bad client is you don’t have enough GOOD clients. Go out and get them! Don’t be lazy and negative yourself. You can do it!
  • Bad employees. They may anger your clients. They may drop the ball in the 11th hour. They may just create problems for you with other people. No matter. They have made their beds – and the bed clearly says “dysfunctional employee.” You don’t need, nor can you afford, ANY level of dysfunction with your employees. Reform them – or move them on.
  • Social media. One in eight minutes online is spent on Facebook. It can really suck you down into negativity if you let it. Fake news items, angry outbursts, and jealousy over other people’s fake lives – it’s all crap that can suck you in and destroy your morale. Cut way back – or cut it out altogether – and then see how you feel. Most of us spend way too much time on social media. It starts to become a substitute for real life. And it is a poor one!
  • Too many hobbies. If your golf game isn’t going well in spite of spending record amounts of time and money playing it, maybe it is time to hang up the clubs for a while. This is just one example of many where hobbies (auto racing, house flipping, etc.), can become too big of a deal and when they don’t go well it sucks us down.

The bottom line is this: Eliminate the problems, stress-inducers, and negative influences in your life every way you can. Culling the bad is every bit as critical as cultivating the good. The good has to outweigh the bad or you’ll be renting space in your brain to some very bad tenants!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at

This article is from issue 1177 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.