Becoming Stress-Proof: Leo Benkel of PURE LAMBDA On How To Reduce Or Eliminate Stress From Your Work

An Interview With Savio Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Prioritize self-care: Making time for activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies can help reduce stress and increase overall well-being. I make sure to schedule time for myself every day, whether it’s going to play video games, meditating, or just watching YouTube. This helps me clear my mind and recharge so I can approach my work with a fresh perspective.

With all that’s going on in our country, in our economy, in the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. We know that chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. For many of us, our work, our livelihood, is a particular cause of stress. Of course, a bit of stress is just fine, but what are stress management strategies that leaders use to become “Stress-Proof” at work? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help to reduce or even eliminate stress from work? As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Leo Benkel.

Leo Benkel founded PURE LAMBDA in late 2020 to help create a dynamic, decentralized, innovative technology scene across a united world. Through PURE LAMBDA, Leo offers his expertise as an advisor, consultant, and mentor for companies who want to achieve engineering excellence and drive sustainable growth. Teaching remains a strong interest that he pursues through speaking engagements at conferences on all continents.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

I discovered my passion for science and technology during my childhood in France and began writing code at an early age. This led me to a career in Silicon Valley, the heart of worldwide technological innovation, where the future is built. Over 10 years, I gained cutting-edge knowledge and skills for building technologies and teams. My experiences include participating in early-stage startups, integrating acquisitions, scaling growth at a billion-dollar company, and participating in the launch of entirely new business categories. I have built new software products from scratch and designed and architected corporate and open-source libraries.

My technical knowledge includes front- and back-end development, functional programming, artificial intelligence, machine learning, multi-agent systems, data science, and engineering. I am an instructor in the Scala programming language. Other knowledge areas include open source development, computer-assisted design (CAD), account-based marketing (ABM), search engine optimization, and user acquisition and conversion funnel.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to stay focused on the long-term goal and not be discouraged by short-term setbacks. I would emphasize the importance of taking calculated risks and embracing failure as a valuable opportunity to learn and grow. I would also encourage my younger self to surround themselves with supportive, knowledgeable, and driven individuals who share their passion, as well as to maintain a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout. Additionally, I would stress the importance of treating others with respect, having faith in oneself and being open to feedback, while also enjoying the journey and having fun along the way. But to be fair, I was not really too far off in those aspects. What I would like to “change”, might be to start investing even earlier, becoming financially independent should always be a goal.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

I am grateful for Peter Badger, who was my first CEO at my first startup in San Francisco and later became my investment mentor. He taught me how to navigate the networking scene in Silicon Valley and understand the investment mindset. Through his guidance, I was able to make a smooth transition from Europe to San Francisco and establish myself in the tech industry. I have since learned a lot from Peter and value his continued support and advice.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

We recently announced the launch of the PURE LAMBDA Alliance. The PURE LAMBDA Alliance connects like-minded individuals from all over the world, facilitating collaboration and knowledge-sharing, as well as offering mentorship opportunities. Our mission is to foster innovation and promote the development of cutting-edge technologies that will improve people’s lives and help make the world a better place. Whether it’s through helping startups scale, or providing resources and support to entrepreneurs, the PURE LAMBDA Alliance is dedicated to making a positive impact and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?

Stress can be described as the pressure, challenge or demand placed on an individual, especially in the startup and entrepreneurial world. It can stem from a variety of sources, such as meeting deadlines, competition, financial worries and the need to constantly adapt and innovate. It can be both physical and mental and can impact a person’s well-being, productivity and success.

In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?

The fast-paced, high-pressure world we live in today, combined with the ever-increasing demands of work, relationships, and society, has led to a rise in chronic stress. The constant need to perform, meet expectations and keep up with the latest technology and trends can be overwhelming. Add to that, the fear of job insecurity, financial instability, and a growing sense of disconnection from others, it’s no wonder stress levels are at an all-time high.

What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?

Stress can manifest in many physical ways including headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and stomach problems such as indigestion or nausea. Additionally, stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of developing health issues such as heart disease, depression, and anxiety. The body reacts to stress by releasing the hormone cortisol, which activates the “fight or flight” response and prepares the body for physical action. This can lead to increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and heightened senses. Long-term exposure to stress can take a toll on the body and mind, making it important to find healthy coping mechanisms and manage stress levels.

Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?

Well, stress can definitely have both negative and positive effects on us. On one hand, stress can be a motivator and drive us to perform at our best. It can push us to meet deadlines, solve problems, and take on challenges. On the other hand, excessive stress can lead to burnout, physical and mental health problems, and decreased productivity. So, in a way, a certain amount of stress can be good for us, but it’s important to manage and balance it so it doesn’t become overwhelming.

Is there a difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?

Yeah, absolutely! Short term stress can be beneficial in certain situations, like a tight deadline or when you need to perform at your best. It can increase focus and motivation. But long term stress can take a toll on both our physical and mental health. Chronic stress has been linked to a number of health issues like heart disease, depression, and decreased immune function. It’s important to find ways to manage stress and maintain balance for overall well-being.

Is it even possible to eliminate stress?

Can we totally get rid of stress? That’s a tough question. Stress is just a natural part of life and some level of it can even be helpful in motivating us to achieve our goals. But the key is to find ways to manage it, so it doesn’t control us and have negative impacts on our physical and mental well-being. So, while I don’t think we can ever eliminate stress completely, we can learn how to cope with it and keep it at a manageable level.

I find meditation helpful in managing stress. It helps me clear my mind, find peace and balance, and better handle the stressors in my life. It’s a tool that I turn to regularly to help me stay centered and focused.

In your opinion, is this something that we should be raising more awareness about, or is it a relatively small issue? Please explain what you mean.

Well, I definitely think stress is a major issue that affects many people, and it’s something that we should be talking about more. The effects of stress can be far-reaching and can impact both physical and mental health. From my personal experience, I’ve seen how stress can interfere with work, relationships, and overall happiness. I think raising awareness about stress, its causes and its impacts, and sharing effective strategies for managing stress could make a big difference for a lot of people. That’s why I think it’s important for us to talk about stress more openly and not sweep it under the rug.

As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand the toll that stress can take on one’s mental and physical health. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take care of ourselves. Burnout is a real problem and can occur when stress becomes chronic and sustained. It’s important for us to raise awareness about the importance of self-care and managing stress, especially in high-pressure industries like tech and startups. Stress is not a small issue, and left unchecked it can lead to serious health problems.

Let’s talk about stress at work. Numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. For you personally, if you are feeling that overall, work is going well, do you feel calm and peaceful, or is there always an underlying feeling of stress? Can you explain what you mean?

As a professional and entrepreneur, I can relate to the feeling of work-related stress. Although work may be going well, there is often an underlying feeling of stress that stems from the pressure to perform, meet deadlines, and stay ahead in a competitive industry. I think it’s important to find a healthy balance and prioritize self-care to manage and reduce stress in the workplace. This can include finding ways to manage time effectively, setting boundaries, and engaging in stress-relieving activities such as exercise or meditation. It’s a continuous process and requires effort to maintain, but I believe it’s worth it for overall well-being and success.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that busy leaders can use to become “Stress-Proof” at Work?” Please share a story or example for each.

Sure, here are my 5 stress management strategies for busy leaders:

  1. Prioritize self-care: Making time for activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies can help reduce stress and increase overall well-being. I make sure to schedule time for myself every day, whether it’s going to play video games, meditating, or just watching YouTube. This helps me clear my mind and recharge so I can approach my work with a fresh perspective.
  2. Practice effective time management: Creating a schedule and prioritizing tasks can help reduce feelings of overwhelm and increase productivity. I use a task tracking app, my Calendar and my email box to prioritize my to-do list to make sure I’m not juggling too many tasks at once. This helps me stay on top of my responsibilities and reduces stress. It also help me not forget anything.
  3. Set boundaries: Learning to say no and setting clear boundaries at work and in personal life can reduce feelings of stress and increase feelings of control. As an engineer, one example was when my team was asked to take on an additional project during a very busy time. Instead of automatically saying yes, we prioritized and reassessed what we could realistically handle as a team. By openly communicating and working together, we were able to allocate tasks efficiently and still meet our deadlines without added stress.
  4. Stay Connect with loved ones: I make sure to stay connected with my friends and family, even when I’m busy. Whether it’s scheduling a call or just sending a quick text, this helps me stay grounded and reminds me what’s truly important in life. For instance, I make sure to always send a message during lunch time to my love one, to check in and stay connected.
  5. Learn to manage negative thoughts: Challenging and reframing negative thoughts can help reduce stress and increase overall mental health. For example, instead of thinking “I’ll never finish this project on time,” try thinking “I’ll take it one step at a time and find a solution if I need help.”

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

I am an avid consumer of YouTube videos, I follow a lot of inspirational and scientific channels. It help me stay motivated and curious about the world around us. Here is a few of my favorite channels: CGPGrey, Kurzgesagt and History of the Universe.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Well we already talked about the PURE LAMBDA Alliance. Let’s be less greedy and focus on collaborating for the greater good. Let’s help each other be all better.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

I am present on LinkedIn under my name (Leo Benkel), or my company name (PURE LAMBDA) and we recently launched the PURE LAMBDA Mailing list to stay informed about everything we do. I stopped using Twitter after all the drama happening over there and prefere the none-anonymity of LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor