Episode 2 - From Burnout to Performance: Creating a Culture of Resiliency with Annastiina Hintsa, CEO, Hintsa Performance

Redefiners Podcast
Hosted By:
September 21, 2021 | 34 min
Annastiina Hintsa
CEO, Hintsa Performance

"In a way, burnout is actually overusing your strengths, overusing that passion, that drive, that incredible resilience, that ability to focus, just pushing too hard for too long. That's when burnout happens, and it actually puts high performers at a higher risk."

You wouldn’t think falling down a flight of stairs would be a Redefiner moment that would change a career trajectory, but it was for our guest Annastiina Hintsa. Because the event forced her to realize that she was officially in a state of burnout and it opened her eyes to the link between wellbeing and sustainable performance.

Now, as CEO of Hintsa Performance, Annastiina helps the likes of Formula 1 drivers and Fortune 500 C-Suiters find that holistic sweet spot in order to operate at peak levels and avoid burnout. We talk with her about optimizing performance rather than maximizing it, and how to make behavioral changes that lead to sustained performance.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll hear from Annastiina in this episode (edited for length and clarity):

Annastiina’s Redefiner Moment: 
My redefining moment was actually a pretty brutal stop. I literally hit the wall quite early into my career actually. I was working in strategy consulting and I really enjoyed it. But I was also not living according to any of our principles or philosophies in terms of looking after myself.

Then one November morning when I was running down the stairs in our apartment to catch a taxi, I fainted in the staircase, rolled down the stairs. I woke up at the bottom with blood in my hair and my first instinct was to search for my laptop.

For me that was a wake-up call. I took some time off. It went back to my values in the sense of, what are the things that actually matter to me? What are the things that I want to hold on to in order to be able to do my job? And I don't think that we need to look at wellbeing and performance as something mutually exclusive—it's actually to the contrary. When you are feeling well, when your brain is working as it should, when you’re not sleep deprived, you're better at your job.

On recognizing the warning sides of burnout
When you talk about burnout in the context of leadership positions, or jobs that require us to perform at a high level, the challenge is that a lot of high performers are actually also at a higher risk. When we are in execution mode, pushing Zoom after Zoom, et cetera, we tend to block all the warning signals that our bodies are trying to send us.

We try to help individuals become a little bit more aware of those warning signals. You become a little bit more edgy, a little bit less patient. Maybe you pick up an old habit that you used to have, like smoking or drinking. It could be physical, stomach aches, headaches, a tense neck, or it could be psychological. Then when you want to make a change, you need to start small with one change while linking back to the things that actually matter to you.

On what executives can learn from Formula 1 drivers
With athletes, there's a lot more emphasis on marginal gains in terms of physical and mental performance, which actually is more important than physical performance in terms of making a difference at the top. This applies to executives as well. It’s not just thinking about these incredible athletes as athletes, but thinking about them as human beings. Who are you when you are no longer a Formula One driver? What are the things that are important to you when you're no longer at the track? All those questions are really important to ask, and hopefully early on into your career, because that is the strength that will also help you then bounce back from setbacks. Because they're inevitable for every one of us.



Annastiina Hintsa
CEO, Hintsa Performance

Entrepreneur in second generation, Annastiina has witnessed the growth of Hintsa Performance for over two decades. She is a leader and public speaker fascinated by the resilience, capacity and adaptability of the human mind and body.

Prior to joining Hintsa Performance in 2016, Annastiina worked in top management consulting, banking, and micro-finance. Having experienced burnout early in her career, she was faced with profound questions about balance and meaning. She found answers in her father’s philosophy, and a transformation that involved running 250km ultra-races in deserts: Better Life leads to Better Performance.

She has worked with a clientele ranging from Formula 1 drivers to female entrepreneurs in rural Guatemala, top CEOs, and leading politicians. She speaks and facilitates workshops around the world, from TEDx to WEF.

Annastiina is particularly interested in what it will take for individuals and companies to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution and the role of leadership in shaping organizational wellbeing outcomes.

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