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Creating Four-Way Wins: Total Leadership Alumni on Work & Life

Contributor: Alice Liu

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 PM EST, Friedman speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self (mind, body and spirit).

On February 18, Friedman spoke with Total Leadership alumni about how the lessons have enriched their lives since they completed the course. The purpose of the Total Leadership model is to improve performance in all four domains of life: work, home, community, and self by following these principles to create mutual value among them:

  • Be Real – act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important
  • Be Whole – act with integrity by respecting the whole person
  • Be Innovative – act with creativity by continually experimenting

In the first hour of Work and Life, Friedman spoke with four Total Leadership alumni about how following the principles of Total Leadership has allowed them to lead richer, more satisfying lives.

Richard Meene, David Tucker, Goshin Mizuno and Matt Jennings

Following are edited excerpts of the conversation with Friedman.

Stew Friedman: How do you manage to do the things that are important to you as a husband, as a father, and as an effective manager?

Rich Meene: Richard MeeneTrying to figure out how to allocate our scarcest resource – time – is a challenge. I think one of the ways I juggle it all is to continually step back to self-reflect – take a look at the situation, engage with those people I care about, and ask for their opinion. Both with my job and with my household, I think we’ve established a habit of honest and intentional communication.

SF: You took the Total Leadership course here at Wharton three years ago – what are the lessons that stayed with you that you still use today?

RM: I continue to use the program to figure out who are the major stakeholders, what are the different pieces of my life, where am I over-delivering and under-delivering, and what types of experiments can I design to figure out how to put things in better alignment. For example, I noticed that people stopped responding at 6 PM, so instead of staying until 9 PM, I cut work at the office off at 6 and head home while my family is still awake to spend some time with my wife and kids. Then, when my family goes to bed, I go back and put in that additional time. This experiment has allowed me to reorganize my time to fulfill other domains of my life while still accomplishing the same amount of work. I was able to spend more time with my kids which made me happy, I was able to spend more time with wife which made her happy, and I was still able to meet the requirements of my job – all without getting frustrated that I wouldn’t be home on time. It was a multiple-way win for sure.

David Tucker: David TuckerTotal Leadership really teaches you how to define what success means to you. In the path leading up to becoming a Wharton undergraduate, the next step is always prescribed for you – here’s what you have to do to advance to the next level, here’s what you have to do to get a certain mark in a class. The hurdles are very clear. I found myself after graduation in a highly coveted management consulting job where, again, the hurdles are very clear. But at some point, because I had done all this introspection and all this work in Total Leadership, I realized that those benchmarks weren’t the benchmarks by which I wanted to use to measure my own success. I realized that I was stressing out about benchmarks that don’t actually matter to the people who matter most to me. So I started to think, “How can I change this situation so that I’m able to live a life that’s successful by my own terms?” I started by clarifying what risks I was willing to take. I struck out on a new job hunt, and instead of taking the job that seemed like a continuation of the path that I was already on, I ended up interviewing in the marketing field, which felt better aligned with my values. I knew that even if this choice was going to decrease my long-term earning potential, this was a place where I could feel successful based on how I define success.

SF: Rich, how do you think about success? How does success in certain parts of your life affect the other parts?

RM: In thinking from the perspective of a 15-year plan, I try to think less about what specific job I want in 15 years or where I want to live. It’s more about what I hope to have achieved living by my principles. If I’ve followed through on my principles – like successfully raising my kids and being a good husband – then that is success for me.

SF: David, what is it that you look to as you think about the next stage in your life and career?

DT: When I changed careers from the job that I initially had out of college, my partner elected to make a career change as well and is now preparing to enter medical school in the fall. That’s going to require me to have a conversation with my bosses about either changing the office that I work in or how frequently I come into the office. The Total Leadership principles have equipped me to have that conversation when the time comes. One of the tools I’m going to try to think about is how to define this change and how it might be beneficial for the people that I work with. If I can show them that I can meet all their demands even if I’m not physically present in the New York office every day, then everyone can still be happy with the end outcome, and I will still be bringing my full self to work every day.

SF: That’s exactly what I mean by four-way wins. You’re entering the conversation thinking about how this change, which is clearly good for you, your partner, and perhaps for other parts of your life, like friends and the local community, is also a benefit for your employer. How did you develop a greater sense of confidence and power in being able to adjust things to suit your needs?

DT: I think a lot of that comes back to defining who are the truly important people in your life and what you need to do to serve them and make them happy. When you are confident that the move you’re making is the right move to serve those critically important people, it’s hard to feel like that’s the wrong move.

SF: Goshin, Matt, how has Total Leadership helped you tackle the major challenges that you face in integrating the different parts of your life?

Goshin Mizuno: Goshin MizunoBefore Total Leadership, I felt passionate all the time but I didn’t know why I was passionate or what my purpose was. I found that I was aggressively and ambitiously looking for results rather than engaging with the stakeholders in the four domains in my life. After learning Total Leadership, I now feel like I have a gyroscope that tells me where my center of gravity is.

Matt Jennings: Matthew JenningsTotal Leadership has allowed me to have many different conversations with the key important people – the stakeholders – and one of the things that I’ve learned is that you have to approach different relationships in different ways. Some of the changes you want to make may be more immediate but for the longer-term changes, if you can define what you want your life to look like, then you can start working backwards and plant the seeds for a better solution in the future.

SF: We talk a lot in our course about small wins and the power of taking steps within your control to build towards a bigger vision. Goshin, how have your conversations with people that matter most to you helped you be more aware of the other parts of your life and become more purposeful?

GM: Engaging in dialogue with my stakeholders has allowed me to start understanding what they care about most. Before pushing my goals onto my colleagues in the workplace, I try to understand their goals and interests so I can be more respectful and considerate. Although I can’t touch the king in the first chess move, I can use my voice and my delivery to gradually start building trustworthy relationships. Before Total Leadership, I was always trying to solve the problem individually, but now, after Total Leadership, I delegate more of my responsibilities and goals.

SF: Matt, how have the stakeholder dialogues you’ve had given you more confidence?

MJ: Before the dialogue, I thought, “This person’s expectations of me are X, Y, and Z and that’s completely related to my job.” However, when I got into the conversation, I was surprised when they said none of the things that I had listed and, in fact, mentioned expectations that matched much more closely with what I had hoped. This conversation served as a great foundation for us to continue to grow our relationship, and it’s even helped create a new opportunity for me at work that doesn’t require as much travel as I’d been currently doing. So it’s a real win for the company, it’s a win for me in the career-sense, and it’s also a great benefit in the other areas of my life to be able to spend more time with my family, my friends, and myself.

SF: What a great example of a four-way win that blossomed out of a conversation with someone you identified as being important to your future about what matters to each of you. What I find with many clients and students is that they are afraid to have this conversation. What is it that’s terrifying about this conversation?

MJ: One, it’s the unknown. Two, it’s putting yourself out there. So many of us in the workplace and/or in our personal relationships don’t want to rock the boat, but sometimes you have to break some glass in order to build something new. And you have to do that in the context of understanding who are the important people in your life and what risks you are willing to take in order to better serve those people and yourself.

SF: Goshin, how did you discover your capacity to have these dialogues? What was the most important lesson you learned to be able to more effectively see the world through other people’s eyes?

GM: In my case, I know I can be a perfectionist, and sometimes it’s a disturbance to other people. By making minor adjustments to my attitude, I have reached an even higher level of achievement. I think that being humble – showing respect to others and praising their strengths while admitting my own weaknesses – has allowed me to bring others closer.

David Tucker received his undergraduate degree from Wharton in 2009 and is currently Vice President of Global Intelligence at UM Worldwide where he is responsible for conducting global research and serving as a thought leadership editor supporting UM’s “Curiosity Works” brand proposition. Follow David on Twitter @tuckerda where he tweets about his work (media, advertising, research) and passions (travel, travel, more travel, books, and personal finance).

Rich Meene received his MBA from Wharton in 2011 and has worked for the accounting firm PwC LLP since 2001, where he is now a Director. Rich works with Boards of Directors and executive management teams on projects involving corporate investigations, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, process improvement, organizational change management and strategic planning. To learn more about his professional practice, visit the PwC forensics consulting page.

Goshin Mizuno received his MBA here at Wharton and is a Global Nomad, having traveled and lived in different environments, cultures and social regimes. He is originally from Tokyo but has spent nearly two decades outside of Japan.

Matt Jennings received his MBA in 2012 and is the Vice President of Program Management for the Construction, Transportation & Industrial Global Business Unit of De Lage Landen Financial Services, Inc.

Visit the Forum this Saturday for the second segment of Friedman’s conversation with Total Leadership Alumni, Sean O’Reilly, Eugene Lebedev and Judith Duval.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday, March 4 at 7 PM on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Connie Gersick, Visiting Scholar at Yale’s School of Management abouthow women can implement three strategies to “have it all” and male Wharton students, David Ash (WG ’15), Siddharth Shankar (WG ’14), Vikram Madan (WG ’15), and Ben Shephard (WG ’14), about how today’s businessmen see their future work and family lives. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author:

Alice LiuAlice Liu is an undergraduate senior studying Management at The Wharton School and English (Creative Writing) at the College of Arts & Sciences. 

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