Sharai Lavoie

Being the Visionary & Powering Through Burnout

Julie talks with Sharai and discusses powering through burnout, the transformation in how she defines success, and the importance of her team.



On today’s episode, Julie speaks with Sharai Lavoie, founder of Lavoie CPA PLLC. Sharai discusses powering through burnout, the transformation in how she defines success, and the importance of her team. Tune in to also learn what Sharai thinks you, as a business owner, should be comfortable asking for. It’s a key piece of advice!


[00:00:00] Julie Bee – Host: On today’s episode, I talk with Shari Lavo about powering through burnout, the transformation, and how she defined. And the importance of her team. I’m Julie B and they don’t teach this in business school. 

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[00:00:34] Julie Bee – Host: Hey there, I’m Julie B and this is, they don’t teach. In business school. On this podcast, we discussed the behind the scenes of being a business owner. Today I’m really excited to interview Shawe Lavo, the c e O of Laois, c p a. And I’m really looking forward to this because I know we’re gonna have some really fun conversations and also learn a lot about being a business owner.

So Shari, thanks for being here. And yeah, [00:01:00] why don’t you just, let’s start off with telling me about your business and your role in the 

[00:01:04] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: business. So we’ve been around for over 13 years now, going on 14 years. And we are a financial operations management firm. We don’t do tax, we don’t do audit. We do partner with different firms on that side of things, depending on the size of the company or client that we’re working with.

But we focus in outsourced accounting. We lovingly call it accounting as a service. Sorry. , you may see our branding that says As, or Get Your Ass in Gear. Mm-hmm. . So that’s a A A S on that side. But we also sell and implement technology and we have a consulting side where we do project work, system selection, process improvement, due diligence work, quality of earnings work on that side of things.

So it’s a lot going on, but it all intertwines into each other. I thoroughly enjoy it. So I’m responsible for the direction, the [00:02:00] business development, the pivots that happen all the time. Mm-hmm. , staffing, everything, and I have a absolutely fabulous team. That helps. 

[00:02:10] Julie Bee – Host: So That’s awesome. So what is your favorite part about being a business owner?


[00:02:16] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: know what, it’s because my favorite part of being a business owner is that I get to monetize what I love to do. I love to help people. I love to clean stuff up. I love to see things get going, and I love to see to reimagine life. What could be, what’s the, what’s the next level, what could be, and I love all that stuff.

And being a business owner and what we do allows me to do that in multiple places and with multiple people. And apply lessons learned. So that part of it I love. And I also love being able to use our organization for community [00:03:00] good and charitable purposes too, because I, that’s a big part of me in this.

I think having that extension of the business is really good too. . 

[00:03:09] Julie Bee – Host: So I wanna ask you a question about the work that you described. I, I would put into the class of the visionary elements of being a business owner. How do you make sure that you have the time, the space, the capacity to actually do that work?

Because I know for a lot of business owners that’s so often the stuff that gets put aside or put on the back burner, even though it’s probably the most important work we can do. How do you make sure that you have the capacity to do those things? 

[00:03:38] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: If we’re talking about for me. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, for the company, , that’s an ongoing thing.

Sometimes that happens on Saturdays, but honestly it happens all the time. And so I’ve tried to get into a habit of writing those things down instead of thinking that I have to have focus time, because those visionary things are [00:04:00] things I get to do with my clients. Mm-hmm. , but when it comes to, it’s kinda like the carpenter’s house, right?

Mm-hmm. , when it comes to your own, You kind of ignore it sometimes, but it always comes back when you step on that nail and you’re like, I gotta get that done. Mm-hmm. . So for that, I think about it all the time. I doubt if there’s a time that I’m not thinking about it. Mm-hmm. , because I always tell the staff like, I’m already over there.

I’m just trying to get things done so that you guys can get over there with me, and so I’m usually always thinking about those things. They’re always in the back of my mind. It’s just that I don’t necessarily say I’m gonna block two hours to. Think about this today, which I probably should, but I don’t.

[00:04:46] Julie Bee – Host: Whatever works as long as we’re getting to it. I think that that’s the, the main thing. I think, you know, there’s a lot of systems and processes out there, and don’t get me wrong, I love a good system and a good process, but I think you have to find, you know, you find pieces and parts of what’s offered out [00:05:00] there and make it work for you, and you kind of create your own process along the way.

So I think as long as you’re doing the work you love to do and getting to be that visionary, that’s what really. 

[00:05:09] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: Yeah, I would agree with that. 

[00:05:11] Julie Bee – Host: Totally. You’ve mentioned your team several times and would you talk a little bit about how important your key employees are to you and maybe also some moments that you’re particularly proud of that they’ve, that they’ve done over the past year or so?

I take 

[00:05:27] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: my team very seriously. I guess I could say they’re extremely important cause there’s no way you. The firm would be where it is right now. I would be where I am right, right now without them. Mm-hmm. , and you know, we do have some very key employees, but everybody plays a part. I always try to make sure everybody understands that no matter what you’re doing, you’re playing a huge part in a much bigger picture.

And so to take that as seriously as you possibly can [00:06:00] is what we should do. And I would have to say that, you know, Matt Dewal has been instrumental. Mm-hmm. in a lot of that too. And he has just really, we play off each other very well. be it, him being part of the team has just made a huge difference and allowed us to do some really good springboarding mm-hmm.

on that side. And we always have these aha moments where we’re texting each other back and forth about the next thing to do. So they have been, they’re kind of everything and I, I let them know that I really do care about them and I care about their development and. Being at OI isn’t what’s the best thing for them.

I wanna see what’s best for them. And so I don’t take that part personally because I actually care about the individual and I want what’s best for the individual. 

[00:06:55] Julie Bee – Host: Is there anything that you can think of off the top of your head that you’re particularly proud of [00:07:00] your team? 

[00:07:01] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: They’re resilience.

I would say I am so proud of their resilience and actually their, their service. They, if there’s anything community-wise, client-wise, it doesn’t matter what it is, they are willing to jump in. And help out in any way. And it’s like 800 times outside of the scope of our work, but they will still jump in to help.

And that is, I think that says a lot about them, but they’re extremely proud of that. 

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[00:08:00] Julie Bee – Host: Hey, this is Julie B and you’re listening to They Don’t Teach This and Business School. I’m here today with Shari La. Hopefully I said that right. This time I’m getting closer. , we were laughing. Yes. Before, we were laughing before. Because I, I’ve known you for many years and I’ve been mispronouncing your name and it’s, I feel bad, but you know, you, you, you live and learn.

But anyways, I wanted to ask you, you know, we’ve talked about it. Doesn’t mean 

[00:08:24] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: I love you any less. Julie . 

[00:08:26] Julie Bee – Host: I love you too, and I’m so glad I finally asked you to pronounce your name for me. You know, I think we, we, I can’t remember exactly where we met. I think we met through a networking event, and then we’ve done 10 K s B.

You know, we’ve both gone through the 10 k, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and we’ve talked several times, but I’ve never asked you to say your name for me. I always just knew your name and so I would come in thinking, I, thinking I knew how to say your name. So anyway, it’s just these funny little things in business.

After 14 years you think, I know, think you would have it figured out. [00:09:00] Shari, I wanted to ask you, you know, we talked about some of the fun stuff about being a business owner, but I wanted to make sure to ask you if you have any, any experience with going through burnout as a business owner, and if you’d be willing to share any of those stories.


[00:09:13] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: probably go through a regular cycle of burnout, but burnout is what then pushes me to the next level of things, because one thing that I did determine, When I get to burnout and I don’t address it, I will probably be in therapy every two second along that side. So I finally decided that, you know what?

I have got to put my big girl panties on and get through this on that side. I am a spiritual person, believe it or not, and so I’m like, you know what, guys got me this far. He’s gonna get me through the rest. I can have my. Pity party if that’s what I wanna do, because that’s the selfishness of what I wanna do.

But at the same [00:10:00] time, I should always have a plan A, B, and C. Mm-hmm. . And so if A doesn’t work, I go to B. If B doesn’t work, I go to C. And if C doesn’t work, I go back. I. Always stay in prayer, but I go to prayer. Mm-hmm. , and then, you know, a comes back up again. So burnout is something I think as a business owner you, you will always experience just because of all the things that are on your shoulders.

Right. , I’ve just come to the conclusion that I have to, I can sit it in it for a minute, but that’s all I have is a minute. I don’t have any longer than that because I don’t want it to paralyze myself. Mm-hmm. personally and mentally, and I don’t want it to paralyze the business, so I have to figure out a way to get out of that.

Mm-hmm. . And for me, it’s more on a spiritual level because it’s more of, you have to get this. If the quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t. And so [00:11:00] motivation. Yep. Great. Yeah. If you tell me no, that’s not suited for you, or no, you can’t mm-hmm. , I will put it in your face every time. So that is the quickest way to get me to do something.

But, and so because that drives me and that sense of things is my own internal overachievement wanting to accomplish. Burnout becomes something that I know is gonna happen. Mm-hmm. , but I also have started conditioning myself as to how to push through it. And I hope that answers your question, . 

[00:11:34] Julie Bee – Host: I, I have a couple of follow up questions, but that is pretty much the summary of what I hope business owners see after they read the book that I’ve written about burnout when it comes out next year.

But it sounds like you have accepted that burnout is going to be part of your life. usually on the other side of getting through burnout, you might have a breakthrough in business of some sort. Is that a fair, are those fair statements? That is very 

[00:11:58] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: fair. Yeah. [00:12:00] Very fair. 

[00:12:00] Julie Bee – Host: How do you recognize that you’re in burnout?

Like, what, what is going on in your, you know, in your, just in your mind or in your, in your body or whatever? Like how do you know you’re 

[00:12:09] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: in burnout? I know I’m in burnout when everything is irritating. . I am very much a person where if you can’t have fun doing it, you shouldn’t be doing it. Mm-hmm. at all. I mean, nothing should feel work.

Shouldn’t feel like work. And if it feels like work, you probably need to do something else. And when it starts feeling like work and things are irritating me. I know I’m getting to that place of burnout because I’m not already iterating on the next thing so that it doesn’t irritate me. Mm-hmm. And so that’s how I know that I’m getting there.

Mm-hmm. And I know, okay, I need to take a moment. And get this together, even if that’s staying here at the office after everyone is left so I can have my little pity cry [00:13:00] party and then go home to my family whole mm-hmm. , then that’s what I need to do. But that’s, those are the triggers that. . I know that when it’s coming.

I know it’s coming. 

[00:13:11] Julie Bee – Host: You know, you also said something really important there, Sherry, about if you know it’s coming, but you might stay at the office and work late. And I think the reason I wanna highlight that very particular point is I’ve had a burnout that’s put me into that I, that I went to the emergency room for because I thought I was having a heart attack.

Ha. It was a panic attack. and the cardiologist I saw basically said, do less. You know, take a vacation, take a break, take it, take it a little easier. Which is not bad advice, right? It’s not bad advice. And telling a business owner that is like just. Pouring gasoline on a fire. It’s so important to recognize that in yourself that if you know, working through whatever the problem [00:14:00] is, or spending a little bit more time at work might be the way that you actually get on the other side of burnout is so.

Crucial. I just wanted to point that out because I think that’s very important. I 

[00:14:10] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: agree with you because I love what you said about, it’s like pouring gasoline on the fire. Mm-hmm. . Because if you tell me, if I know I’m at that point and you’re like, okay, you just need to disconnect. Well, when I disconnect and go on vacation, guess what I’m thinking about the whole time?

Every single. Thing that I know is gonna be there when I get back. And if I can just carve out 15 minutes, I can get this part done. I can address this. Whereas if you just come up with a plan to get yourself to a good point and then go on vacation, then you can breathe. Mm-hmm. . And when people tell you to disconnect and do all these things, it’s easy to say it.

It. A hundred percent harder to do when you know that you’ve left strings loose. And also [00:15:00] when you know that. Your team isn’t at their peak where they, you know, it’s covered like when you get back. It’s not gonna be, if you disconnect, I find it very hard to completely disconnect. But if you do disconnect when you come back, that it’s not gonna be a tsunami, right.

Of things that are coming at you. Because for me, that creates anxiety. Like that part. So for me, just powering through it, getting into a good point, and then I can not let that be a worry in my mind and lose sleep over it. And then 

[00:15:33] Julie Bee – Host: you could actually start recovering from burnout, 

[00:15:35] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: basically. Exactly. Yeah.


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[00:15:55] Julie Bee – Host: You’re listening to, they Don’t Teach This in Business School, and I’m the host, Julie b I [00:16:00] wanted to ask you, so we just talked about some deep stuff about burnout and I wanted to ask you something that, that hopefully is a little bit lighter.

How do you define. It is an 

[00:16:13] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: ongoing conversation. . 

[00:16:16] Julie Bee – Host: I asked the deep questions here. That’s what I do. 

[00:16:18] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: You do? That is like an ongoing conversation. You know what? I’m here and I’m still standing and that should be success enough, really, honestly. But I will admit, honestly, for me it’s not mm-hmm. , but it should be.

Mm-hmm. and that is something that I have to. Keep grounded in that, my level of success and my picture of success. With who I know I am and who I wanna be, may not be someone else’s. Mm-hmm. , um, just because of who I am. Honestly, I reiterate on success all the time because I think it’s, it’s levels to it.

Mm-hmm. and. When you’re at [00:17:00] different points in your life, success looks differently. Mm-hmm. for you? In my thirties, it looked different. I’m still in my thirties. Mm-hmm.

That’s awesome. . I just perpetually stay in my thirties. Yeah, that’s right. That’s how you do it. But it just looks, it looks different all the time for me. I don’t hang my hat anymore on. A revenue number. I don’t hang my hat anymore on a number of employees or anything like that because success is way more encompassing in my total self versus just what I do, which is one question I hate when people ask what I do.

I’m more than just that . 

[00:17:46] Julie Bee – Host: Oh, yeah. No, I hear you. I’m, I’ve, I’m, yes, . I’m going through that struggle right now, is trying to figure out, telling people what I actually do these days. It sounded like there was a time when revenue, a number, number of employees was. [00:18:00] The definition of success and a transition has happened.

Can you talk a little bit about that transition or, or that transformation? 

[00:18:07] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: It was more around, I think that transformation happened when you observed. So I’m a big people, watcher, observer kind of person. Mm-hmm. and have always been, but I found it very interesting, the people that I observed where they had.

What I would’ve considered success at that time. Mm-hmm. like, oh my God, I gotta get there. Mm-hmm. . But then you look at the fallout and you look at everything around it, and you look at it, at least for me, I looked at it in a sense of, is that really where I wanna be? And if it means that having that means all the other things, I don’t.

Like there’s a, there’s a sense of core self that like, I don’t want it, like I’ve fought very hard to just really. [00:19:00] Pivot myself to just being comfortable with just being myself and not what other people expect me to be on that side. And so it just kind of became, do I wanna give up that sense of myself for that?

And do I have to? Because a lot of times you don’t have to. It just means that it’s gonna be a lot slower for you and that’s okay. And I’m okay with that, so, but I don’t ever want to. Lose myself and lose my grounding for the pursuit of something that once you have it, you just kind of have all these other things that you regret.

Mm-hmm. or you think about constantly of things you would’ve done differently. 

[00:19:42] Julie Bee – Host: Boy, that’s an excellent answer. I, I went through that whole thing too, and I think most business owners do, whereas, oh, you 

[00:19:48] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: do get to, cause in your head you’re Martin Zuckerberg. 

[00:19:51] Julie Bee – Host: Yeah. Get into X number revenue or X number of employees.

And then what really, and I actually just had this transition last year [00:20:00] where I, I finally realized that the achievement of a goal does not define if I’m successful or not, because as soon as I achieve a. I’m like, okay, what’s next? Like, I, I, you know, I might celebrate like this, this much, but it, it’s almost like the next day I’m thinking to myself, okay, what’s the next goal?

Like, what’s the next step in this process? So I spent a lot of time last year redefining what success looks like for me outside of any goal. So , it’s, you know, laughing and being happy and being able to be myself and doing things that I, that I love because I, I, I feel for people whose only definition of successes is external goals.

Because I feel like they never, they probably never feel successful because they’re always trying to get to the next thing. 

[00:20:46] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: I found success when I learned how to train myself to make a really good pound cake, so that was success for me too. , 

[00:20:55] Julie Bee – Host: I could make a Turkey. Oh my gosh, my Turkey is, my [00:21:00] Turkey is really, really, really requested on all the major holidays, said, I’m like, that is the kind of stuff that makes me feel successful as a human being.


[00:21:10] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: you go. Like the joy in everything outta that, right? That 

[00:21:15] Julie Bee – Host: is where it is. Oh man. This has been such a good conversation, but I just, I have one, one more question I wanna ask you today. , if you were asked to teach a class about being a business owner to future business owners, future entrepreneurs, what is the one thing that you would want them to learn from your class?

That is 

[00:21:35] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: such a loaded question, Julie. If you 

[00:21:37] Julie Bee – Host: have maybe two, two or three things, that’s fine 

[00:21:39] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: too. That is crazy because I don’t know that you can teach it . Honestly, I, I honestly don’t know that you could teach it. The only thing that I would say that would be a takeaway from. Class I taught on it, so to speak, would be make sure you, you’re comfortable with asking for help.

Hmm. [00:22:00] A lot of times as business owners, we think we can do everything. We know everything. We don’t need to listen to anybody because we got it figured out and, and then crisis mode hits. Be comfortable asking for help and ask for help before you need it. That is very key. And also learn how to give yourself.

You’re gonna ha you’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna have oops moments. You’re gonna have times when you’re like, I probably should have done that differently, those kind of things. But allow yourself some grace with that because you’re not perfect. And even though someone may be looking to you to be that you’re not.

Yeah. And you gotta, you gotta own that. Mm-hmm. off. and if you own that off top, it’ll make your life so much easier. 

[00:22:50] Julie Bee – Host: Wow. Well, yeah, I think we are going to wrap it up right there, Sohar. I have really enjoyed this conversation so much. I’m so glad we finally got it. Got it on [00:23:00] here. Got it recorded. Yes, . I know the, uh, business owners that will listen to this will enjoy it as well.

I really want to thank you for being on the show. 

[00:23:09] Sharai Lavoie – Guest: Well, thank you for having me and thank you for picking, putting up with my crazy schedule to get this done. So I truly appreciate you for that. You 

[00:23:18] Julie Bee – Host: are welcome. And that is it for this episode, but stay tuned because I’ll be back with more lessons learned on the business owner’s journey.

I’m Julie Bee and they don’t teach this in business school.