Redefining Success

Why “The Third Metric” Success Conversation Has Just Started

Posted by - . 0

 

 

Last month, on June 6th, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski’s inaugural “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power” conference.  

The panel on which I spoke (above) was “Re-Working Work.”  It’s an important topic because, if we want to rethink the traditional definition of success, then the way we work and spend much of our day has to adapt and become more flexible.

I shared my thoughts about “How Success Flexibility Creates Opportunity, On and Off the Job” in a pre-conference blog post on The Huffington Post:

“I’m often asked, ‘If you had to give one piece of advice, what would it be?’ After I say, ‘See the countless possible ways work can flexibly fit into your life,’ I add, ‘But be sure that you redefine success related to money, prestige, advancement and caregiving to match the unique fit you have chosen. If you don’t, you will feel bad about the choice and give up.’

We covered a lot of territory in one day at The Third Metric conference.  And bonus: one of my quotes from the panel was included in the highlights of quotes from the day (check out slide #10)!

Speakers and attendees made headway identifying the changes that would help make physical, mental, and spiritual well-being a larger part of the way we collectively define “success.”  But the conversation is far from over.  It has just started.  Why?

Everyone gathered that day in Arianna Huffington’s beautiful apartment–from the CEO’s of large corporation (Aetna), leading doctors, entreprenuers, journalists, to the television personalities–agreed that the path we are all on is unsustainable because:

  • It’s hurting us personally.  We are stressed, sick, eating poorly, not exercising, not sleeping and not performing our best in all of the areas of our lives.
  • It’s hurting our families and friends.  We aren’t maintaining and nurturing the personal relationships that matter and renew us.
  • It’s hurting our businesses.  Health care costs are soaring and workplace engagement is at historically low levels which hurts profit.

Any criticism I read of The Third Metric conference related to a feeling that it didn’t adequately acknowledge the realities of lower income workers, especially women, who don’t have the luxury to think about these issues while trying to hold down three jobs.

I was encouraged by how many conference speakers did reinforce the often difficult day-to-day work and life realities that many, many people face.  Certainly these concerns need to remain a primary focus.  However, change and dialogue have to start somewhere, and the conversation at The Third Metric was a smart and sincere beginning.  But can’t stop at one meeting or at one group.

I am very hopeful that the passion and commitment both Huffington and Brzezinski brought to their first conference will continue to move the needle.  I look forward to seeing what they decide to do next as they encourage us all to expand our definition of success beyond simply money and power to find the modern, “third metric.”

How do you think we need to expand our definition of success beyond money and power?

 

 

 

The Top 10 Work, Life and Money Lessons from Mika Brzezinski Every Woman Should Know

Posted by - . 0

(This post originally appeared in Forbes.com)

I’m a fan of Morning Joe on MSNBC. I love the banter between the hosts and the eclectic mix of guests. I love learning about the “real story” behind politics. I love the music, and I love Mika Brzezinski. She’s a smart, experienced newsperson, but she’s also a mom and wife. And she brings all of that to the table each day.

It was a thrill to see her moderate the opening panel when I attended the White House Conference on Women and the Economy in April. Not only did she wear the most amazing pink dress, but she impressed me with her grasp of the complex issues that impact a woman’s ability to achieve her goals on and off the job.

When Senior Advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, introduced Brzezinsky as the moderator of the panel, she said her new book, Knowing Your Value (Weinstein Books, 2012) was a “must read for all women.” I decided to check it out. She was right.

Not only does Brzezinski share the often difficult lessons she’s learned over the years about work, life and money but she includes the very candid stories and insights of other successful women like Tina Brown, Sheryl Sandberg, Suze Orman, and Arianna Huffington just to name a few.

Here are ten of the key lessons from the book that every woman should know:

1) Know your “value:” What you contribute and how much that is worth in the market.

My heart broke for Brzezinski when she describes how it felt to finally sign a contract with MSNBC only to realize that both of her co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist made significantly more money than she did. Not only that, but they were assigned specifically to Morning Joe, whereas she was required to do the show and other assignments for the network. This very painful realization finally forced her to objectively and dispassionately research how much she was worth in the market and learn how to be compensated fairly.

2) Don’t wait to be noticed. Walk in and ask for what you want…because that’s what all of the guys are doing, constantly. (Click here to go to Forbes.com for more)

Avoid the Five Mistakes That Keep Your Life Unbalanced and Your Workplace Inflexible

Posted by - . 0

I’ve decided to use Slide Share more often to share the PowerPoint slides from some of my speeches. Here is the slide deck from this week’s Jam Session for 85 Broads! Let me know if you find it helpful.

3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Need to Discuss “Work” and “Life,” but Stop Talking About “Balance”

Posted by - . 2

Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating as a panelist at The White House Urban Economic Forum hosted by Barnard College. The event focused on inspiring, funding and providing technical support to women entrepreneurs.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was how to start and grow a business while taking care of the other parts of your life.  For example:

  • Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, explained that when women are asked why they started their businesses they’re more likely to answer, “So I have flexibility to manage my life and my kids.” In contrast, men respond, “To make a lot of money.”
  • Joanne Wilson, an angel investor and Gotham Gal blogger, said she thought every woman should be an entrepreneur because it gives you the control and flexibility to do work you love and take care of the other parts of your life.

But when one of the moderators, Arianna Huffington, asked the women on her panel, “How do you balance your work and life?” everyone got so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.  If issues related to work and life were so front and center throughout the day, why was “balance” such a tough topic for the group to address?  And why does it matter?

There is no work/life “balance,” which is why no one can answer the question. It’s not that we don’t want to answer the question.  It’s that we can’t, no matter how hard we try (here and here).  This is especially true for entrepreneurs who rarely have any physical or mental division between their lives on and off the job.

The way to start a productive conversation on the subject is to ask someone, “How do you manage the way work and the other parts of your life fit together?”  The conversation shifts away from limiting, unachievable, one-size-fits-all “balance,” to the possibilities of a person’s unique work+life “fit.” You leave room for the truth that there will be times when work is primary, and the other parts of life take a backseat, and vice versa.  And that’s OK.  We can learn from our individual “how to” stories.

It’s imperative that we share our judgment-free strategies for managing work and life if we want women-owned businesses to achieve their full growth potential. Since the research shows that women entrepreneurs are motivated in part by work+life considerations, then it’s critical to share strategies for managing how all of the pieces fit together.  It’s the only way women are going to see the possibilities for themselves and their businesses, and expand beyond the “it can’t be done” meme that’s out there.

Personally, when I heard that my fellow panelist Margery Kraus grew her company, APCO Worldwide, to employ 700 people around the world while staying married to her husband for more than 40 years, raising three children and spending time with 10 grandchildren, I thought, “If she can do it, so can I.”  Technical advice for business growth is important but so are the “how to” strategies for personal success (as you define it for yourself and your family).

We need to challenge the “all work, all the time” model that dominates entrepreneurial lore and funder expectations. In his book “Delivering Happiness—A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose,” Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh, shares his secrets to entrepreneurial success.  One of his rules is that Zappos employees spend a certain percentage of their time outside of work with each other.  A busy entrepreneur who has other personal responsibilities is going to look at that blueprint for growth and think, “I can’t do that.” But is it really necessary?

After more than 15 years creating work+life fit and flexibility strategies for all types of companies, I can honestly say I don’t believe that the “all work, all the time” model is the only path to business success. It’s time to identify and celebrate other examples where an entrepreneur works hard, achieves results but doesn’t completely ignore their own well-being and their important personal relationships.

Changing the narrative around the work+life fit expectations of an entrepreneur is especially critical for women.

Even Jessica Jackley, the highly successful founder of Kiva.org and now CEO of ProFounder, faced blowback when one of her VC investors discovered that she was pregnant with twins. He bravely admitted thinking, “A pregnant founder/CEO is going to fail her company.”  His public honesty allowed Jackley to eloquently point out that her pregnancy shouldn’t interfere with her company’s need for funding and ability to deliver results.  She will figure out how to make it all work.  Success didn’t require an “all or nothing” choice.  But too many entrepreneurs still think it does.

Let’s learn from each other by asking, “How does your work as a busy entrepreneur fit into the other parts of your life?”  There’s no right answer or “balance,” only countless possibilities for growth and success, personally and professionally.  And in the process, we can expand beyond the outdated “all work, all the time” entrepreneurial growth mindset that limits everyone—men and women.

If you’re an entrepreneur, how to you grow your business and manage the other parts of your life?  What’s your work+life “fit?”

Embrace Uncertainty, and Ride the Butterflies

Posted by - . 0

In the early 90’s, I turned my back on a successful banking career to go to business school and become a work+life strategy consultant.  This was before most people had even heard of telework or flexible hours.  Yet I walked the halls of Columbia Business School in 1993 confidently stating this seemingly crazy goal.

Many, many people thought (and said) I was nuts.  Armed with incomplete information, intuition and support from key people, I did achieve my goal…and more!   But it would have been much easier if someone had charted the course for me.  Now someone has.

In his new book, Uncertainty, creation, marketing and innovation expert, Jonathan Fields, lays out the path that everyone can follow, and not a moment too soon.  The level of ambiguity that pervades our lives and work seems to increase daily.  Uncertainty breaks down the steps of how not only to survive but thrive, personally and professionally, in a world where the unknown is the new normal.

Recently, I spoke with Fields about his important, timely new book Uncertainty.  It’s the guide that I wish I had when I jumped, feet first, into the abyss of ambiguity.

Cali Yost:  Jonathan, let’s get started with why it’s so important to embrace uncertainty today?

Jonathan Fields: We live in a world where uncertainty is now the rule.  It’s all around us.  Either we learn to live with it or we suffer.

Nothing unique is created if you wait to have perfect information.  Great art, new and innovative ideas all happen in the face of uncertainty.  If you wait to get all of the information before moving forward then you aren’t creating.  You are just repeating because someone else has done it before.

Cali Yost: According to the research throughout the book, we avoid uncertainty even at our own expense.  I loved how you reframed the two aspects of uncertainty that trip us up most often—Fear and Butterflies.  Can you talk about Alchemy of Fear and Riding the Butterflies?

Jonathan Fields: Research shows that when we experience uncertainty the parts of our brain related to fear and anxiety light up.  Often we experience it as the sensation of having butterflies.  But butterflies are not comfortable.  In fact, we want to hunt and kill the butterflies!  We back away from where we’re trying to go and shut down.  But instead, as I discuss in the book, we need to harness and ride those butterflies toward our goal.

In terms of fear, you need to train your mindset to succeed in the face of that fear in the same way you would pursue mastery in a particular field.  It’s what I call the Alchemy of Fear.  You do this by focusing on four key areas that I describe in the book:

  1. Workflow optimization, through single tasking, etc.
  2. Personal practice, like exercise and Attentional Training
  3. Environmental and culture change, by creating “hives” and judgment leveling opportunities
  4. Outlook optimization or behavior, by reframing and growth.

(Click here to learn more about how to get one of Marty Whitmore’s limited edition Ride the Butterflies or Alchemy of Fear illustrations commissioned by Jonathan Fields for FREE)

Cali Yost:  I’m glad you mentioned judgment leveling opportunities.  I realized as I read your book, that you gave me the gift of a judgment leveling opportunity a few months ago when we had lunch.  You patiently answered all of my most basic, potentially embarrassing questions about marketing.   By allowing me to test ideas and clarify my base knowledge, you gave me a foundation from which to take what I learned to the next level, and then the next.  How can others create judgment leveling opportunities for themselves?

Jonathan Fields: Judgment is important because you want and need the data to guide your mission.  What you don’t want is the emotion that too often goes along with the data.  That’s what causes people to stop experimenting.

You can either join an existing group or create the environment yourself that gives feedback without the shutting people down.  The good news is that today you can even do this online.  There a many stories and examples in the book but here are a few things to look for:  (Click here for more)

(This post originally appeared in FastCompany.com)

Why Millennials Need to Be “Unrealistic” About Work+Life Fit (But, “Realistic” About Money)

Posted by - . 9

Originally posted on FastCompany.

I recently attended two conferences where researchers presented studies on the Millennial generation’s beliefs and expectations related to how work will fit into their lives throughout their careers.

The conclusion of the research was not surprising: 20-somethings expect a great deal of flexibility. They expect flexibility in how, when and where they work while employed, but also they want to flexibly manage their careers.

However, I cringed during the presentations when the two 50+ year old researchers both commented that men and women in this generation may be a bit “unrealistic.” I was taken aback because these goals may seem fanciful in the context of an Industrial Age economy, but they’re more understandable when you consider what Millennials have witnessed during their formative years.

Millennials watched the concept of work and career change fundamentally. Technology and globalization decimated the boundaries between your job and your life and rendered the promise of the full-time job with benefits obsolete; therefore…

20-somethings need to be “unrealistic” about their work+life fit

In a recent article for The Christian Science Monitor, Lindsay Pollack commented on the findings of the “Shaping a New Future” study of 1,000 Millennial women that she conducted with Levi’s Strauss & Co, “They are living life on their own terms, and we can learn a lot from how they are navigating our 21st Century world.”

What does that world look like in terms of work and careers?  It’s unpredictable and self-directed. Two recent surveys (Workforce Trends Study and Manpower) found the use of temporary talent by companies instead of full-time employees “is a post-recession phenomenon that is here to stay.”  Not surprisingly, the 2009 Emerging Workforce study reported that 94% of respondents felt that an employee should seek their own career opportunities, and only 24% were satisfied with the growth and earning potential in their current jobs.

Millennial expectations align with this dynamic, free agent existence. As I’ve written before, we would all benefit by sitting up, taking notice and learning.  Examples of new more flexible ways of managing your work+life fit have gotten attention recently and include:

There’s only one caveat…there must also be a new, updated, “realistic” approach to money.

Money—making it, spending it and saving it–is different in the world of a flexible work+life fit.  In other words, it’s not your grandfather’s or even your father’s financial reality.

The steady, ever-increasing paycheck deposited into your bank account every other week has given way to a more inconsistent, unpredictable, multi-stream, project-based cash flow.  This requires an updated, “realistic” approach to finances outlined in the new book, Generation Earn, by US News & World Report columnist Kimberly Palmer.

Unlike more traditional “how to” personal finance books, Palmer attacks the financial implications of this new Millennial work+life fit reality head on by covering topics such as:

  • How to create and manage multiple streams of income either as your primary means of support or as a supplement to your main job. (Includes excellent advice from Michelle Goodman, author of Anti 9-to-5 Guide).
  • How to manage the “new” frugality and buy green.
  • How to create a flexibility plan to present to your boss when you need to adjust your work+life fit.
  • How to calculate the “true” cost of staying home once you have a child (page 148—important because you need to “factor in the value of future earnings and promotions” in order to get an accurate picture)
  • How to negotiate living with your parents again, and
  • How to face the (tough) reality that you will have to fund your own retirement.  It’s important because, as Palmer points out, the existence of Social Security for this cohort is tenuous.

Yes, according to Industrial Age thinking, the expectations of Millennials for job and career flexibility may seem “unrealistic.”  But in the context of today’s circumstances, they make sense.

When, where and how 20-somethings work and manage their lives is going to look very different from the experience of most Boomers and many Gen-Xers.  This requires not only a new, more flexible work+life fit model, but also, as Generation Earn points out, a completely new relationship with money.

Do you think Millennials are “unrealistic” about their work+life fit expectations or do you believe they are adapting what work and careers will look like going forward?  How do you believe the way we manage our personal finances needs to change?

I invite you to sign up for our new Making Flexibility Real “How To” eNewsletter and follow me on Twitter @caliyost.

Work+Life Flexibility “How to” in Pictures: #2 Change requires employee+employer partnership (some gov’t) and shift in broader cultural conversation

Posted by - . 0

How Employees Can Partner with Employers: Work+Life Fit in 5 Days Series

Work+Life Flex “How to” in Pictures: #1 Don’t get stuck on the innovation curve

Work+Life Flex “How to” in Pictures: #3 Focus on fact that same flexibility keeps business open in snowstorm, cares for aging parent (and more)

Work+Life Flex “How to” in Pictures: #4 Making flexibility real takes more than traditional policy, toolkit and training

Time to Lose Limiting Labels

Posted by - . 9

Has the moment of respect for the slow “er” lane finally arrived?  I recently read two powerfully persuasive blog posts arguing that it’s time to retire outdated, limiting labels such as, “mommy track,” and “lipstick” entrepreneur.  In other words, it’s time to add a third, valid option to a work+life fit highway.

For too long if you weren’t in the fast lane or stopped at the side of the road, your choice was labeled and judged as somehow “less than.”   And that’s not today’s reality (if it ever was).   Resisting the need to label and, thereby, normalizing all work+life fit choices, makes it easier to move between all three lanes– fast lane, pull-over lane, and a slow”er” lane—throughout a career.  That’s reality.

What’s the slow”er” lane?

I never say “slow” lane, always slow”er” lane because no self-respecting, high achiever would ever be caught in the slow lane, but the slow”er” lane…perhaps.  We need to flexibly shift between the different lanes as determined by our work and personal realities at a given point in time, and feel good about it.   This is especially true in today’s new work+life flex normal.

Sometimes we’ll be in the fast lane.  At other periods, we may pull into the slower lane or stop on the side of the road for awhile.

Historically, the personal and societal judgment that accompanied the choice to pull into the slower lane has kept us stuck physically and conceptually with only two extreme options (fast or stop).  That needs to change.

It’s hard when someone passes you in the fast lane

First, there’s our personal reaction to the slower lane.  In my seminars, we talk about what happens when we find ourselves in the slower lane either by choice or by force.  It can be fine for awhile until you look into the fast lane and see someone passing you by.  It may make you mad and doubt where you are, even though the individual in the fast lane may have a completely different set of circumstances and goals at that moment.  An important part of the work+life fit process is consciously redefining success for yourself to match the fit you are trying to achieve (here and here).

Challenging society’s need to slap a label on it

But then there’s the culture’s powerful need to label , and thereby negate, the choice to pull into the slower lane.  And according to the posts mentioned earlier, it’s time to get rid of two of the most limiting labels, especially for women:  the “mommy track,” “lipstick, or lifestyle” entrepreneurs.

“Mommy track isn’t just for mommies anymore.”

In “The Mommy Track Turns 21,” for Slate.com, Angie Kim, a mother of three and a 1989 graduate of Harvard Law School,  argues that it’s time to retire the “mommy track.”   Not only does it no longer describe the experience of many less-than-fast-lane women, but it limits the ability of men to move comfortably into the slower lane.

As Kim explains in her post, The New York Times coined the term “mommy track” to describe a two-tiered career model for women originally proposed by Felice N. Schwartz in a 1989 Harvard Business Review article, “Management Women and the New Facts of Life,”  “(Schwartz’s) solution: Divide employees in to two groups, one in which career is paramount and the other in which it’s the balancing of career and family that’s most important.”

But two decades later, that neat categorization no longer holds.  According to Kim, “The ‘mommy track’ was renounced at birth for sanctioning boring flextime jobs with low plaster ceilings.  But some of my not-fast-track classmates are using their clout and influence to create prestigious roles….At the moment, only a few, privileged women occupy such a space.  Could a larger, broader set join them?  If the answer is yes, it’s because the mommy track isn’t just for mommies anymore.  Several of my classmates who chose flextime jobs for work-life balance do not have children.  Eight others who work full-time have husbands who stay home or work part-time.  A 2005 Fortune study found that 84% of Fortune 500 male executives surveyed wanted flexible job option to give them more time for things outside of work.”

I agree, it’s time to retire the “mommy track.”  In 1989, Schwartz’s two-tiered career track and The New York Times’ label may have made sense.  But since then, the values and expectations related to work and life have evolved across all demographics, and technology and globalization have transformed the fundamental nature of careers and work, thus rendering the term an anachronism.

However, continuing vigilance of “mommy tracking” is necessary.  This involuntary limitation of the advancement of women because they are or may become mothers can disappear when the culture and employers understand that everyone has a life outside of work, not just mothers.  Losing the label will help.

“I don’t think I’d call them anything but entrepreneurs”

Adelaide Lancaster is the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces and the co-author with her business partner, Amy Abrams, of the upcoming book, tentatively titled, Good Company: Entrepreneurship for the Rest of Us.

In a recent blog post for the Huffington Post, “Are Women Business Owners Really Second Class Entrepreneurs,” Lancaster argued that it’s time to remove the label “lipstick” or “lifestyle” entrepreneur when describing the “the strong dichotomy that exists in the mind of the general public between businesses that are fast-growing, capital-rich, and highly visible (and undeniably mostly male) and businesses that grow more organically, remain closely held, have greater longevity, have less capital and stay smaller…The first group gets deemed the legitimate ‘real’ entrepreneurs, while the latter group, especially if they are run by women, gets passed off as ‘lifestyle,’ or ‘lipstick’ entrepreneurs.  While in reality businesses in the latter group are run by both men and women, I’ve yet to see a man’s business pejoratively referred to as a ‘lifestyle’ business…I don’t think I’d call them anything but entrepreneurs.”

Lancaster directly challenges society’s definition of success in this area, “The difference between the women we work with and out society’s well-reinforced notion of ‘real’ entrepreneurs is that most of them are focused on long-term viability and sustainability of their venture instead of fast growth and quick sale.  Generally, they are looking to create something that can growth with them overtime, and meet their changing need, and remain something that they can control.”

In other words, these slower lane entrepreneurs are choosing this path for a variety of professional and personal reasons in lieu of growth in the fast lane.  It’s a valid alternative, not “less than” as the labels “lipstick,” or “lifestyle” would infer.   I also agree with Lancaster that valuing the slow growth, sustainable choice of male and female entrepreneurs is critical; however, as she notes, we must continue to expand the access of women to the funding and expertise necessary to take their businesses wherever they want them to go—fast or slow.

Rethinking labels in a “time of no longer and a time of not yet”

As leadership expert Katherine Tyler Scott recently observed in The Washington Post, that “Most of us are experiencing a time of no longer and a time of not yet.”  The limiting extremes of the fast lane or a stop at the side of the road no longer encompass the countless flexible combinations of work and life we will experience today either by choice or involuntarily.

We need to value the third option of the slower lane.  And as Kim and Lancaster point out, this means removing the judgment of outdated labels such as “mommy track,” and “lipstick” entrepreneur that may have applied in a time that’s no longer, but they definitely don’t work today and won’t work in the time yet to come.

What do you think?  What other labels do we need to retire that that too rigidly categorize work+life fit choices in a way that no longer reflects reality?   Maybe even the labels “fast lane,” “slower lane” and “stop at the side of the road” no longer apply!

Social Media Guru, Gary Vaynerchuk–Work+Life “Fit” Intuitive In Action

Posted by - . 0

Full disclosure…I am a major Gary Vaynerchuk fan.  I’ve read (and highly recommend) his book Crush It!. I think he’s a prophet when describing the impact of social media on business.  I consistently learn from his video blog and Wine Library TV, and even had a chance to see him speak in person (again, highly recommended).

So imagine my excitement yesterday morning when I see that Gary has posted a video, “Work/Work Balance.” (below).  After watching the clip, I realize that, even though he doesn’t know it (because he uses the b-word and focuses on work/work even though he does mention other parts of his life), Gary Vaynerchuk is a work+life fit intuitive in action!

First, what’s a work+life fit intuitive? It’s someone for whom flexibly managing his or her work+life fit day-to-day and at major work and personal transitions is second nature.  The funny thing is that they have no idea how unusual they are, and they often assume everyone else is the same way.  Over the past 15 years working with tens of thousands of people, I’ve estimated that about 10-15% of the population falls into this category…and one of them is Gary Vaynerchuk!

Second, what’s he doing? In the video he explains that he will be resetting or readjusting how he is going to work, what work he is going to focus on, and how he is going to build more time for exercise and his family into his “fit” (although he calls it balance).  Watch the video and you will see he follows the main the steps found in my book and highlighted in the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series from earlier this year:

He recognizes that his work and personal realities have changed.  Over the past three years, Gary has put his heart and soul into expanding his Wine Library TV brand and into helping others leverage their brands using social media.  He prides himself on walking his talk of customer service and interactivity, which was fine until the demands on his time began to grow beyond his capacity to continue to perform the way he wanted to.  Add to this the fact that he became a father for the first time last year.  And, as he has publicly stated, family is very important to him.  Three years ago, his work and personal realities were different.  That “fit” no longer works, so he’s making a change that’s a win-win for him and his business.

He is creating a new, clear vision of what he wants his new work+life fit to look like and how we will flexibly manage it. If you listen to the video, he describes the work he is going to let go of (mostly travel for speeches), and he talks about how he is going to perhaps create public Q&A sessions so he can stay in direct touch with people in a more efficient way.  He interjects that he’s going to find more time for the basketball court and being with his family, although there’s still A LOT of work in his work+life fit.  He’s answered the smallest, hardest question: What do I want?

He challenges his fears. Even Gary Vaynerchuk encounters the fear roadblock as he gets ready to reset his work+life fit.  We all do!  But he challenges it. His fear is that if he isn’t as generous with his time–spending hours in the store one on one with people or going out to dinner every time someone asks–people will think he sold out and is no longer authentic.  But he challenges it in part with the video and by explaining what he is doing and why.  Plus, his is brainstorming other ways to keep that connectivity without the level of time commitment.

He is redefining success to match his new work+life fit. For the past few years, his definition of success was sharing what he knows (either about wine or social media) and trying to help others understand how it could help them.   But now he’s feeling like he needs to stop and “execute” for awhile.  Learn, read, and know more.  From that doing and learning work, he will ultimately be more valuable and more helpful.  That’s his new definition of success, and it matches the change he’s putting into place.

Gary, good luck!  And add “work+life fit intuitive” to your list of your accomplishments.

Did Gary Vaynerchuk’s work+life fit reset inspire you?  I know it’s reaffirmed the decision I made a couple of months ago to reset my work+life fit to finish two big writing projects I’ve been trying to complete for the past year.  I’m pleased to report that one writing project is down, and I have one to go!

Fast Company: “Up in the Air,” Work+Life Fit Allegory for the Era

Posted by - . 0

When I saw the movie, “Up in the Air,” I expected to be entertained but I wasn’t prepared for a powerful, multi-layered allegory about work+life fit.

Jason Reitman’s symbolism packed commentary puts up a mirror and challenges us to question key assumptions about work and life today reality.  But it also offers insights into what we can do differently as we move into an era where greater work+life flexibility will be the norm.

Here are a few of my takeaways.  I would love to hear what you think if you’ve seen the movie.

(Spoiler alert—Stop here if you don’t want key points of the movie’s plot revealed.)

Insight #1:  Some people really do like working all of the time.  But we need to stop celebrating their work+life fit as the bar against which we are measured (and fail), and respectfully see their choices as the aberration that happens to work for them…for now.

At the beginning of the movie, George Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, genuinely loves his work+life fit.  And it’s a fit that’s all work and no life.  In fact, he likes it so much that he develops a series of motivational speeches extolling the virtue of the “baggage free” life to others.

The movie did a great job of showing how we collectively as a culture tend to romanticize Bingham’s fit.  It’s glamorous—fancy hotels, honors clubs, first class seats.   In fact, his speeches are so successful that by the end of the movie he’s asked to present at a large, prestigious venue.  We want that life, but do we?

The role of work+life fit foil is played by Bingham’s junior-level colleague, Natalie.  Initially when we meet Natalie, she seems to hold many of the same values as her more senior, experienced colleague.  So it’s surprising when she begins to actively and forcefully challenge his work+life fit choices as she comes to terms, often painfully, with what she really wants personally and professionally.

First, she tries to get him to agree with and embrace her vision of a work+life fit that includes a partner and a family.  Then, she attempts to take on his values and change herself to conform.  But, it’s like watching someone put on a suit that doesn’t fit. Very uncomfortable.
In the end, she’s made him think differently, but he hasn’t fundamentally changed.  Instead, she realizes that she needs to make herself happy and finds another job.

Insight #2: Life eventually creeps in for even the most hard core “all work/no life” person, whether by choice or by force….(Click here for more)