How Do I Thrive Today? With Alli Celebron-Brown & William “Coach Mac” McNeely

A Series on Thriving, Part Two

By Lou Solomon

Home / Interact Studio Stories & Articles / How Do I Thrive Today? With Alli Celebron-Brown & William “Coach Mac” McNeely


As many of us are hitting the one-year anniversary of nearly all-remote work, we have stopped saying, “when things go back to normal.” We know there’s no going back, but we’re just not sure how things will look going forward.

This is not a personal problem. The fatigue brought about by COVID and constant change is everyone’s problem—families, organizations and communities.

A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review* confirmed that job burnout is a global problem. At the heart of the study were these two statistics: 89% of respondents said their work-life was getting worse, and 85% said their well-being had declined.

*2021 Harvard Business Review, 1,500 respondents in 46 countries


Take the Quiz: Job Burnout Symptoms

To confirm your eligibility for this Global Burnout Club take this 10-question quiz from the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  2. Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  3. Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  4. Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  5. Is it hard to concentrate?
  6. Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  7. Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  8. Are you using food or substances to feel better or to simply not feel?
  9. Have your sleep habits changed?
  10. Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach problems, or other physical complaints?

How’d you do?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the Mayo Clinic suggests you might be experiencing job burnout (Note: Since these symptoms can also be related to other health conditions, consider talking to your doctor).

The experts agree that before we can talk about solutions, we must acknowledge what the chaos of 2020 has done to our well-being.

According to Gallup, there are elements of well-being that provide insights into whether people are thriving in life. They include strong and supportive relationships, meaningful work, financial security, physical health, and involvement in their community.

At Interact Studio, we decided to sit down with a few of our favorite people and ask them to share their experience with well-being and staying ahead of burnout.


Meet Alli Celebron-Brown.

Alli Celebron-Brown is CEO of McColl Center for Art + Innovation, housed in a restored 1926 church that in itself is a work of art. She and her team oversee an artist residency and contemporary art center with over 5,000 square feet of gallery space and nine artist studios.

Alli Celebron-Brown is CEO of McColl Center for Art + Innovation on Thriving and Burnout

Alli has been preparing for this role for years, with stops along the way at Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC) and the Lee Leadership Institute. She would never put it this way–but we will. Alli is one of Charlotte’s non-profit superheroes.

Alli, how does your work at McColl Center fulfill your sense of purpose?

Being in partnership with artists and creative entrepreneurs gives me such a great sense of purpose. A creative individual has touched literally everything we use, wear and hang on our walls.

I marvel at their genius every day and feel so fortunate to be in a position to support their artistic pursuits.

Who in your life supports your wellbeing?

I’ve been married to my best friend and partner Kyle for 20 years this summer. Not only does he take incredible care of me, but he’s also taught our girls that mom needs a break from time-to-time. They are my little circle of champions and I couldn’t be more fortunate.

What gives you energy? (We hear you’re a dog person).

I spend most of my time talking with people, strategizing and making decisions, so time alone actually gives me energy–and my dogs are wonderful, quiet companions who help me get my steps in every day.

In what ways does your work connect with the community and the future of Charlotte?

I’ve been in the nonprofit field for over twenty years and every job I’ve had has connected with the community. At McColl Center, we’re getting ready to share new ways we intend to strengthen our ties to the local artistic community. Artists give a city their soul and I’m honored to be a small part of the creative ecosystem in Charlotte.

Alli is thriving in her mission to support creatives and contemporary art in ways that make our community and our lives richer and more meaningful.

Follow McColl Center for Art + Innovation at @mccollcenter.


Meet William “Coach Mac” McNeely.

There’s more than one reason William McNeely’s friends call him “Coach Mac.” The obvious one is that he has been coaching kids for 15 years. But there’s another reason. As Founder and Head Coach of Do Greater Charlotte, he inspires us to never settle for anything less than our greatness.

“Do Greater’s mission is to inspire young people to dream big and things they never imagined possible.

We create programs that expose youth to viable career options and pathways through exploration, guidance and opportunities using the lens of life. It’s a creative movement with the goal of educating youth to go beyond good through learning.” — William McNeely

William McNeely of Do Greater Charlotte on Thrive and BurnoutCoach, what is it about your work with Do Greater that helps you thrive today?

For me, it’s seeing the eyes of a kid light up when you show him/her the possibilities. It’s the anticipation and excitement of doing the impossible.

Do Greater has an underlying message that most people miss. It’s the opportunity to strive toward a greater purpose. It’s an understanding that no matter the circumstances or obstacles, you are here for a reason.

What relationships/who supports you so that you can thrive?

Everyone must find that person that lifts and supports them through the challenging times. The one who always brings out the best. For me, it’s my wife Sheila. She’s been there during the good times and my caregiver in the time of need.

But in the most difficult times, she wasn’t just caring for me, she was telling me to get up and get going. You have work to do.

What gives you physical energy in your day to get things done?

Because of my health crisis and transplant a few years ago, I get tired a lot. My energy comes from my desire to see lives changed. We all have a limited amount of time here and we should use our energy to lift up others.

I can attest to the fact that 80% of what we spend our energy on in life doesn’t matter when you’re facing the end of life. When you start to focus your energy on the 20% that makes an impact on others, you begin to do greater.

What is it about Charlotte that helps you thrive?

I love that Charlotte cares. We as a community can acknowledge our weaknesses but work together to overcome them. In my work as a nonprofit founder, we have encountered caring people from all parts of the community that truly want to be a part of the process and solution. They do whatever it takes. I’ve had many people reach out and just ask the question, “What can I do to help?”

Coach Mac thrives on seeing people light up when they’re shown the possibilities for greatness.

Follow Do Greater Charlotte at @dogreater.


Action Steps For Moving Away from Burnout

With each article in this series, we will offer practical ideas and action steps for moving away from burnout and toward thriving.

  1. Watch out for living-on-line. Set aside no-phone zones such as first thing in the morning; during lunch and dinner; and an hour before bed.
  2. For the last hour before bed, read or watch something that doesn’t add to your stress. Do not keep your phone on the nightstand.
  3. If you’re becoming cynical, pay attention to your self-talk. When you catch yourself saying something snide, ask yourself, “Is that really true?”
  4. Drop one virtual meeting a day. Before you fire off that next Zoom invitation, consider whether you really need a meeting. Is it urgent?
  5. Take the weekend off and engage in those activities that give you life: catching up with trusted friends and family, physical exercise, cooking, etc.

Do you have insights or experience with burnout at work? Are you thriving? How? We would love to hear from you.


Read Part One: How are Erica Butler of THE JAM: CLT and Pedro Perez of Charlotte Family Housing thriving? Click here to find out.

Next up in the Interact Studio Series on Thriving: We sit down with Molly Grantham, Emmy-winning anchor and investigative reporter at the heritage CBS affiliate, WBTV.

 



Some Closing Thoughts


The normal pressures we put on ourselves combined with the daily strain of COVID have caused burnout in the workplace to be at an all-time high. The more burned out we are, the more our well-being is damaged. But, if we are able to take stock of our passions and purpose, and incorporate them into our personal and professional lives, we can start to avoid burnout and begin to thrive.

Alli showed us that she thrives in her mission to support creatives in ways that make our community richer and more meaningful. And Coach Mac thrives on seeing people light up when they’re shown the possibilities for greatness. How are you thriving today?