Stress busters: Local businesspeople use sports, hobbies to relieve pressure

gagostin@bradenton.comSeptember 21, 2009 

BRADENTON - On Friday nights, after local business consultant Karen Magee puts the workweek to rest, she laces up her skates and hits the ice rink.

After a long week of advising small businesses on how to overcome this ugly economy, Magee looks forward to Friday night practices with her ice hockey team, Ms. Conduct.

“It’s great because it gives you an opportunity to get out some of that stress in a physical sport, which isn’t often available for women,” Magee said.

In an economy that has business owners and employees on edge about revenue, expenses and layoffs, local professionals are making sure they still book time for themselves.

“Stress levels are absolutely going up, especially this time of year, which is a slower time of year for most businesses,” Magee said. “For most businesses, the third quarter tends to be more stressful than the rest of the year.”

At Karen Magee and Associates, Magee typically advises business owners on cash flow management, marketing, professional development and business plans.

But in this economy, she also finds herself suggesting her clients follow her lead and take up a hobby or activity they enjoy so they can relieve stress outside the workplace.

“It’s really important for people to find a way of compensating for that stress so they don’t bottle it up and take it out on their clients or employees,” Magee said.

That’s why Gunner Aker always keeps his golf clubs in his car. Whenever Aker gets a chance he heads to a golf course to take a break from his Lakewood Ranch-based company, Aker Marketing.

Whether it’s with clients, friends or on his own, golfing allows him to get out of the office for a moment and enjoy the outdoors.

“Golf is my passion,” Aker said. “I really enjoy just being able to get away from everything and also the competitive side of it.”

These days, Aker Marketing is focused on helping its clients find how they can still get the same marketing value but with less money. That means Aker and his employees must be more creative to maintain their client base.

“What most people have recognized is that they just need to market smarter,” Aker said.

The golf course helps Aker relieve stress and come up with a few good strategies for his business because he is relaxed.

“I think definitely everybody needs an outlet,” Aker said. “It’s very important to be able to get away, get your mind in the right place. For me, I know golf is just a way to kind of get away from everything.”

For Dieter’s Sod Service in Bradenton, it’s not always the economy that presents challenges for owners Dieter and Carole Zoellner.

Last Monday morning, after a weekend of rain that flooded the Manatee River, the Zoellners returned to work having to reroute trucks to central Florida to purchase dry sod.

It’s days like that that make the Zoellners look forward to Friday night football at Palmetto High.

“It’s nice to watch the students, the band and all of the energy,” said Carole Zoellner. “That just takes all the stress away. It helps you to forget about the daily task of trying to survive in this economy.”

Sally Armendarez, vice president of business banking for First Bank in Bradenton, said she feels there is an elevated level of stress to be successful in this economic climate.

“The challenge personally and professionally is to exceed expectations,” Armendarez said. Spending time with family at the movies or watching a football game are enough to ease her worries.

“When I am with my family, I am reminded of the reasons I work so hard to make them proud,” Armendarez said.

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