Tom Potter: Good habits defeat fatigue and stress

Some years ago, before my business expanded, I struggled with stress and work-life balance.

Barely a day went by without headaches, stomach issues and poor sleep. I felt isolated as the CEO and craved help and direction — the right kind of help!

In fact, I was blaming my business for my problems when, in reality, my business was a beautiful beast (which occasionally bucked me off). It just needed a mentally and physically healthy and balanced leader.

I started with my doctor and as no surprise, he told me what I already knew; I lacked sleep and I had high blood pressure! All the other issues were symptoms of my stress.

So I set out a plan:

  • Work smarter and work less (get mentors and eventually establish a board to help me)
  • Exercise more (daily) with no excuses
  • Plan and take time off and take holidays
  • “Hurry up and slow down”

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After a short holiday, I re-discovered and fell back in love with my business.

I also became serious about my strategy and business plan. I made sure I had the right people to carry out the plan, which is a massive core to future success and balance. I made sure my days were productive rather than only trying to fix mistakes I'd previously made.

I then took small steps towards creating new habits:

  • Daily walks for an hour at 6-am,with weekends off;
  • Take up a sport (golf) and play weekly;
  • Get mentors and establish a board to help me. This was so I could enjoy the journey of business instead of being terrified daily of the roller coaster.
  • Cut out alcohol during the working week;
  • Switch off from work on weekends.

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I now feel more balanced and my business became a successful franchise.


Tom is the founder of Eagle Boys Pizza. He left school at 15 and later opened his first pizza shop in Albury in 1987. Tom built the business to become Australia and New Zealand’s largest privately owned pizza company, and along the way Tom was awarded with the Australian Financial Review’s Young Business Person of the Year.


Tom Potter, founder of Eagle Boys Pizza, practices good habits that help him succeed in business and life.