Josh Delaney on Handling Stress & Anxiety as a Founder/CEO

Josh Delaney on Handling Stress & Anxiety as a FounderCEO
Photo Courtesy: Josh Delaney

By: Maria Williams

Josh Delaney, Husband, Father of 2, marketing online since 2004, eCommerce Expert, Brand Builder, Inc 5000 Award Winner, Sold 5 Companies in 10 years to both private and public companies, “Milwaukee’s Most Notable Marketing Executive.”

Leading a company as a founder or CEO brings with it a unique set of pressures and challenges. While stress and anxiety are common, there are strategies to manage these feelings effectively, ensuring both personal well-being and business success.

Lower Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is crucial. Understand that perfection is unattainable, and striving for a more peaceful and realistic version of yourself can significantly reduce stress levels.  The hardest but most beneficial way to combat this really is to lower your expectations for everyone else and raise them for yourself.  Easier to not be let down so much.  That doesn’t mean you don’t have high expectations of your people but understand they are not entrepreneurs like you.  They don’t work or think like you and never will.  Learn to scale the expectations for them appropriately so you can make some of your own expectations for them, their own ideas.

It’s always the best idea when it’s their idea.  Write that down.

Ensuring that team members are in roles that match their skills and passions is essential. A mismatch can lead to frustration and inefficiency, adding unnecessary stress.

Understand Love Languages in the Workplace

Identifying and speaking to your team’s professional “love languages” can foster harmonious and productive relationships. This understanding helps motivate and show appreciation for your team effectively. Josh and his wife did this and changed everything for us as a couple, with their kids as well as their friends and employees.  Everyone in your life can benefit from you understanding this about them.  Read the book “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.

Know Your Numbers

Being financially literate and aware of your business’s financial health can alleviate stress. It prepares you for handling problems with confidence, knowing you can navigate challenges. The amount of business owners who wonder why they aren’t reaching their full potential but don’t know their numbers or key KPIs is astounding to me.  Don’t be one of those people.

Embrace the Stress

Accepting that stress and anxiety are part of the journey can be empowering. It’s about how you handle and compartmentalize these feelings. The ability to manage stress is what ultimately leads to great rewards.  It gets lonely; don’t let that stop you.  Only one team can win the Superbowl, and only 1 person can understand what it takes to be the quarterback on the field; everyone is coming for you.  It’s a part of the game.  It has to be worth it; learn to control it, mold it, and use it for good.  

Selling a company for tens of millions of dollars was one of the most stressful and lonely times of Josh’s life.  Feeling like no one understood, couldn’t understand which decisions to make, or if they were the right ones at the right time.  Take deep breaths, pray, meditate, and do whatever you have to do to clear your mind, and just use simple logic.  Don’t make huge decisions fast, and don’t overcomplicate things.  Oftentimes, answers are closer and easier than you think.

Maria Williams: Can you share a strategy for ensuring employees are in roles that fully utilize their strengths?

Josh Delaney: Invest in them, give them the right tools to succeed, and invest in their education and skill set.  Send them to conferences, buy softwares, ask directly what they need to help them grow their passion for the job or get better at the job.  It’s that easy.

Maria Williams: How do you identify and apply the concept of love languages within a professional setting?

Josh Delaney: Learn them first by reading the book “5 Love Languages”.  Then, ask them directly how you can identify ways to speak to them and work with them best. Find out what makes them feel more appreciated and excited.  Most founders shy away from direct communications and direct questions.  Learn to be one that hits those things head-on. Your team wants you to do that, trust me.

Maria Williams: What practices have you found effective for staying informed about your company’s financial health?

Josh Delaney: Check your accounts daily. Review and strategize ONLY based on PNLs and Balance Sheets monthly. Know your CPA, AOV, LTV and COGS like the back of your hand. Check them daily, too. Always be testing for maximum efficiency in every channel of the business.  Shipping, marketing, employees, everything.

Maria Williams: How do you personally manage stress and anxiety, and what advice would you give to new founders?

Josh Delaney:

  • Understanding loneliness, stress, and anxiety is part of the DNA of an entrepreneur.  Accept that it will not go away…ever.
  • Learn how to channel those emotions and find out why you have them so you can best understand those moments of being too low or too high.  A big reason for anxiety is not understanding something.  To be stressed is normal, but not understanding why is not.  Be responsible with your stress management.
  • Being overwhelmed is a leader in stress in business.  This comes from poor planning, not understanding your business. This causes anxiety.  But if you know your numbers, know your KPIs and know why you are where you are, good or bad….you can solve those problems.  It’s when you don’t have an answer or are afraid to face it that being overwhelmed takes over.
  • Don’t be afraid to face things head on, you’ll lose, and no one will care.
  • Being anxious is normal, being scared is normal, and being stressed is normal…how you react to it will determine how successful you become.
  • Get a hold of other successful people who have done what you want to do.  Ask them how they did it.



Published by: Khy Talara


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