A Sponsored Initiative

Parenting Unfiltered helping Working Parents

Contributor: Jacob Adler

Work and Life is a radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday at 7 pm EST, Stew 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).

Ben Mand is Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing & Innovation at Plum Organics where he’s been instrumental in strengthening Plum’s core mission, developing the brand campaign, and the launch of more than 30 new products, helping to accelerate the brand from the #3 to the #1 organic baby food company. Prior to joining Plum, Ben worked in Marketing and Innovation roles at General Mills and Johnson & Johnson. While at General Mills, Ben made an impact as a change agent, driving improvements in health, sustainability, and social impact while delivering consistent sales and profit growth for well-known brands, including Progresso, Pillsbury, and Yoplait. He spoke with Stew Friedman about Plum Organic’s Parenting Unfiltered program and more.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation and the full podcast.

Stewart Friedman: Can you give us a brief introduction to the Plum Organics Parenting Unfiltered Campaign?

Ben Mand: Ben MandI have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old and so Parenting Unfiltered was very near and dear to my own heart as well as for my teams. One of the things that struck us as we thought about our brand and our role as a partner for parents, and as we looked at the marketplace, marketing, and what parents were posting on social media, was that a lot of those picture-perfect moments – and they’re something we all really enjoy and they’re great when the entire family is all facing camera, all smiling – are so rare when they actually happen.

SF: And this is one of the problems of social media; we’re all feeling bad about ourselves because everybody is else projecting the perfection of their lives.

BM: That’s exactly right. You see on social media an image of when you go to the Giants game, or the Phillies game, or whatever it might be, and that is a great moment. Those moments need to be embraced and cherished, of course. Our point was that’s really one percent of what really goes on. Our thought was to share and celebrate the realities of parenting – the good, the bad, the downright smelly, whatever it is – to reveal what’s real and embrace that. Our philosophy is there’s something real and amazing that comes from the other 99 percent as well. You bring up a really important point. You look at those perfect images, whether it be a marketing ad or things that are put on social media by other parents and you think that that is the norm. You see that as the standard and you reflect on the morning you had with your family, or the last week, and that picture perfect moment is such a rare moment. The other times it’s running late out the door and the kids haven’t finished their breakfast. There’s the myriad of things you faced as a family.  And what I think is important to recognize, and what I want parents to recognize, is what we see oftentimes in social media is just the one percent of what really happens and we all have our challenges. There’s so much to this parenting thing. If you love your kids and you’re doing the best you can, then chances are you’re doing a great job.

SF: The video, which is fantastic, comes in a couple of different lengths.  Where can people see it?

BM: You can see it on ParentingUnfiltered.comYouTube or on our Facebook page. Those are easy places to see it.

SF: So it’s Plum Organics Parenting Unfiltered. What is snapshot of what this video does?

BM: We spent time thinking of all the different moments that are really real, that cut through the classic, cliché beautiful moments, that are challenges, that we wanted to bring to life. Whether it be pumping at work for a mom, or that evening where you just sat down as a couple and you have a glass of wine and you’re just about to start doing some work and the baby monitor goes off and the baby is crying. You just look at each other and figure out whose turn it is. It’s just bringing to life those moments, which can be challenging.

SF: It brings to life the hard part, which is of course where so much of the sublime pleasure ultimately comes from. Your campaign is really a breakthrough in cutting past the gloss out there that makes so many people feel bad about themselves for failing to have the perfect family life as seen on Facebook. Where did the motivation come for this campaign and what’s the impact been?

BM: The motivation came from two places; business and personal. There are so many brands that have come out in the marketplace and how can we at Plum Organics stand out and be different? There was that functional business aspect of it. As we talked about it as a team, what really pained us, and this is definitely true for me, there’s so much judging that goes on and there’s so much guilt that goes with parenting and we wanted to be able to reveal that and tell parents that they’ve got this and that they shouldn’t feel like such failures. There was a personal element for us as well. We know that we’re not the only ones that feel this way. It was very therapeutic as we developed the campaign to recognize that it was really rewarding for us and helped unlock something inside. We felt there was an opportunity for us to do this with parents across the country as well.

SF: I’d love to hear more about how that unfolded, the dynamics among your team. You said it was therapeutic, can you say more about how “revealing the real” and somehow enhancing your acceptance of the real was useful to your team?

BM: As we were thinking through the different situations, we talked about things that often aren’t talked about in the workplace. You might, with one of your close colleagues, talk about these challenges or funny moments or challenging moments, but rarely in a bigger forum, and we talked about the challenges that comes with it.

SF: How did you do it? How did you make that happen with your colleagues?

BM: I think it comes from a leader standpoint. It had to come from me. I set the tone as to what is acceptable. Whether I recognize it or not, people take their cues from me. I do have a natural bias for being very transparent, so I shared these things and there are times where I’m late for work or I have to leave early, whatever it may be, and I’m very transparent about those situations. As we were discussing those things, I was pretty transparent with some of these challenges. When I talked about the husband and wife on the couch, it hit home hard for me because my wife and I have had those challenging moments where we both are trying to balance careers and being great parents. There are times where we figure out who needs time in front of the computer most. These were very real and raw resonant moments for me.

SF: By talking about the reality of tensions in your own family life and being able to fit all the pieces together, which is always a challenge, and encouraging and modeling that behavior for others, while you’re developing the campaign to display this, what are the kinds of things that other people shared that helped you to create the video? I’m also really interested to know how that changed how you worked together?

BM: I’ll start with how the elements came together for the video. As I think about, and this is not something I’ve personally had to deal with, but certainly pumping at work and how you store that even when you travel, I know my wife goes through it, that one was a no-brainer to be in the video because it was a real pain point. It is that very visceral challenge of on some level you need to be there for your little one and you want to be there for your little one, but you’re using this device and where do you do it. There were stories of being in the bathroom or various locations, there’s not always a great location to do it. If you’re traveling, how you store it and all those challenges. Those were some real moments for the team. Honestly, for me and for the team, our ability to talk about it really stems from the type of organization that we are. Our philosophy is to bring your own self to work. It actually has to start with universally being a real culture and having real conversations. When you have that as your foundation, it’s easier to be candid about the challenges of parenting.

For me, when I first started at this organization, this was the company I wanted to work for. One of the challenges of moving to the Bay Area is that it’s incredibly expensive and it’s tough to break into this market. We had two kids and one car. I rode my bike to work or took a bus or ran, which is kind of funny. I could use that run right now, as I do not work out nearly as much. I had to leave everyday by about 5:30 so I could catch a bus to get home so I could get the kids from the aftercare program, which closed right at 6, and usually I would have a couple minutes to spare. When we’re a small startup and we’re struggling to get by, I did often have these feelings that I was coming across as somehow letting the organization down or that they didn’t feel that I understood how much we had to do as an organization to survive.

SF: Was that in your head, or was that real for other people?

BM: It was in my head. I had a number of people, who after a while, pulled me aside and thanked me for doing that because they were struggling with the same things. For me, it was that I had to out of necessity. I had to pick up the kids and there were no two ways about it. It was good that it was forced that way. As a parent, I always struggle with being a great dad and doing a great job for my company and for my team. Those people were somewhat surprised that I would walk out the door at 5:30. One colleague told me that she had written and email but she would set it so that the email would not go out until 10:30 at night to signal she was burning the midnight oil, which never dawned on me. That’s the wrong behavior because it perpetuates what others feel that they have to then do. This campaign and how we’ve approached it has let us get real. Frankly, for some folks, they would say as you strive to have that integration and balance, how do you get things done? I would argue what it does is it takes the stress and guilt and it doesn’t take them completely away, but it certainly minimizes and reduces that. I think the performance is just as good, if not even stronger, because we’re honest about it and have provisions and flexibility so that parents can attend to the things that they need to and want to outside of work. When they’re able to do that, everyone is so much more committed. I’m far more productive and I feel the team is far more productive when they can be their whole self at work and know that they did the things they needed to do. This morning, I was in my daughter’s class and I worked on reading with her class. It was something I did before work, so I got to work 20 minutes late.

SF: How did that help your performance at work? Why would the people at Plum Organics be happy to know that you were doing that?

BM: One, I make every minute matter during the day and I find I’m much more productive. Two, I find ways to do the things I need to do and I’m also more selective in just making sure I’m present or participating in the things I need to participate in.

SF: You’re more focused and conscious of your real priorities, and of course, that helps everybody around you and it probably helps them to do the same.

BM: I think it does. I do see a change in behavior. I think it’s something you have to continually remind folks of, you have to be that positive role model as you much as you can, but I do see things change as an organization. I care about the long run, so I don’t want people to burn out. I want people to have the right kind of balance, and it’s different for each person. For some folks, if they have a longer commute then they’re working from home more days. For other folks, they want to come in super early and leave early. That’s fine. I find with each person it’s important to understand their situation and what means what to them, and find a solution that works for them and the organization.

SF: This is the work we’ve been doing at Wharton for 25 years, is to help people learn through our research, teaching, and practice, how to pursue what we call four-way wins. That is action that you can take that benefits your work, home, community, and yourself personally. One of the core ideas is that everybody’s different and everybody requires a different customized solution but everybody is also thinking about what they can do to make adjustments that are going to work for them personally for their families but also us as an organization. When you take that approach and you try to make it reality in your organization, you get exactly what you’ve been describing with your wonderful and really exemplary role model. You get enhanced commitment, you get prioritization, and people feel good about themselves at work. They’re more confident, they’re more able to innovate.  Congratulations on making that a reality and it’s so wonderful how you’ve woven that into this remarkable campaign. I wonder what sort of impact you’ve had on the marketplace in terms of your brand with the Unfiltered Campaign. What feedback and reaction have you gotten?

BM: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. A number of organizations that hold awards have awarded us with best social, best video campaign of the year. That’s because it’s so resonant; it actually addresses something that’s very real for parents. That certainly has been positive. For me, I found it really rewarding looking through the comments and reading what people are saying, it really is positive that they see themselves in this and they recognize that this is what parenting is. It’s endearing to see couples sharing it back and forth. Knowing that at the end of the day, we’re partners and advocates for parents and our job is to make each step better and easier for them. We do that from a product standpoint, but certainly we want to do that from a soul, mind, and body standpoint.  So if we can take some of that judgment away and help them understand they’re in the same boat as all the rest of us, then we’re successful.

SF: It’s such a powerful idea and it’s incredibly well-executed to make people feel less guilty for not being the perfect parent, and making normal the messiness. It’s a wonderful public service and it seems like such a natural and brilliant way to convey what you brand is about. I congratulate you and have great admiration for what you’ve done with this campaign. What’s next for Plum Organics? How are you going to build on this?

BM: We feel it’s an ongoing conversation. We started this journey a year ago and we’ve done a number of different things, and we’re going to continue the conversation. There are a number of smaller moments, conversations — Mother’s   Day, Father’s Day – we have some great ways to break through with parents and continue this notion of Parenting Unfiltered to bigger moment that we think will come later in the year.

About the Author

Jacob Adler, W’18,  is a sophomore at Wharton and a contributor at The Daily Pennsylvanian, numberFire, and Fake Teams.


The Courage to Walk Through Doors — Amanda Eversole

Contributor: Jacob Adler

Work and Life is a radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday at 7 pm EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Amanda Engstrom Eversole, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of the US Chamber of Commerce and acting president of the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation.  She was recently named one of Wharton’s 40 under 40.  They discussed how she manages her high powered career while hewing to her core values – how she aligns her actions with her values.

Stew Friedman: You’ve just been promoted to the President of the Chamber’s Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation. How did you end up in that role? Tell us the brief highlights of how you got to this role right now.

Amanda Engstrom Eversole:

Washington, DC, USA - October 23, 2014: Amanda Eversole. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Washington, DC, USA – October 23, 2014: Amanda Eversole. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

My background is actually in communications, and I started off about 15 years ago as a business development person within an advertising agency in Washington, D.C, completely unconnected to politics in any way.  I thought I really wasn’t going to fit in in Washington but I wanted to figure out what the public policy world was all about. I went over to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and what we are is we represent businesses broadly from small companies to large companies before the government, before the court, and before what we like to call the court of public opinion. I came over in a relatively junior level position and worked in a communications capacity and since then I’ve had about 22 different jobs in that time. I’m sort of what you’d call the utility player. When we’ve had a project that’s hard and they needed somebody to jump in, roll up their sleeves, and figure it out, I’ve been that person on a number of different projects and so this Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation is the latest example of that. It’s really a startup organization within the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve had that for just a few months now.

SF: What’s the mission of the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation?

AE: We’re actually figuring that out as we speak and I would be really interested if some of the listeners, if they’d like to reach out to me offline or through social media, that would be terrific.  What we’re really trying to do is give technology companies of all sizes a voice in the public policy development.  What we’ve found is that particularly in the startup world, you have companies so focused on getting their companies off the ground that they don’t see possible regulation or legislation that could have a massive impact on their business model. We’re trying to connect that process much earlier in the cycle. Likewise, on the flip side, with larger institutions, we’re trying to make sure that their voice is represented as part of the broader business community.

SF: So you’re wanting the public to speak to you in and add their ideas about what exactly?

AE: Well, we’re defining our mission. Innovation in the economy is what’s going to be driving the job creation, which is really the heart of what the Chamber of Commerce is focused on.

SF: You didn’t graduate and say I’m going to be the the head of technology for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, did you? Or was that the plan?

AE: Absolutely not.

SF: So how did you get there? What was the path that led you this type of work and what you believe is important about your life and your purpose in your work?

AE: It’s really one where doors had been opened for me along the way. The headline is really about having the courage to step through those doors. Candidly, at the time, I didn’t always know what I was doing. I’ve often come across people who have been very clear in what their life mission, from a work perspective, has been. They wanted to be a doctor, they wanted to be a lawyer, they knew what their calling was. I, on the other hand, didn’t.

SF: I think that’s like most people. So you didn’t know, so what did you do?

AE: When opportunities came up, by default, I would say yes. My career at the Chamber, I’ve been there for over 12 years now, which if you had asked me at the beginning if I thought I was going to stay in any place for more than five years, I would have said very unlikely. But the beauty of this organization for me is that I’ve been given the opportunity to go and create several new programs from the ground up and learn how to add value to our membership. It’s a unique business proposition because we represent businesses broadly so I have a chance to think about things from a different perspective, meaning how would businesses of all sizes or industries be affected by a particular public policy or by a particular piece of legislation.  Once you understand how to do that, applying it to the different policy areas is all about learning the substances, because you already have the tools in the toolkit at that point. So I was involved in our Capital Markets Group in the lead-up to and following the financial crisis. It was a very important time, clearly, not only from an economic perspective but also from making sure that any policies, or ultimately the Dodd-Frank Act that was passed, prevent future crises but don’t ultimately impact the ability to raise capital for businesses of all sizes. So, different subject matters, but interesting how you can apply it in business contexts of all fashions.

SF: So the core mission, then, how would you describe what the core mission of the Chamber is and in terms of how it relates to what you believe is important about business and society?

AE: At the end of the day, we’re advocates for our members and businesses of all sizes, and we find it to be our role to speak up and say things that perhaps businesses can’t say on their own or would prefer that a trade association like the Chamber might say. Formerly one of my positions was as Chief of Staff and I was able to leverage our resources broadly, not only from a public policy perspective but I also led our charitable giving program.  One of the things that was important being a student of yours in the Total Leadership Program was making sure that all four of my domains were aligned with what my own personal interests were. So I was able to figure out how to tie together both a work objective and being a good corporate citizen, and also my own personal belief of how to give back to the community and society. That was really sharpened and honed through this program, and we’ve been able to do some really wonderful things, both for our staff and for the community as a result of that.

SF: So tell us, what are you most proud of in terms of what you’ve achieved in that capacity?

AE: Well, there have been a couple things. The first is there was a domestic violence shelter in D.C. called WEAVE, Women Empowered Against Violence. One of the things I like to sharpen when we’re deciding where to invest our time and our resources is where our dollars and where our time is going to make the biggest impact. This organization’s mission is to help women and men who are victims of domestic violence find not only access to legal resources but access to resources to get them out of situations that are difficult. We were able to provide our resources and we were able to gain access to people who volunteered their time to help from a financial standpoint. The organization was about to go under, and we were able to extend the life of the organization for well over a year. Unfortunately, it ended up closing down and reforming in a different capacity, but that one year’s time was so important. We helped many survivors of domestic violence to have a second chance. If we hadn’t there, there would be dozens of people who would have been in very difficult circumstances.   I’m really proud of that work, and there are a lot of different cases like that.

SF: So this is an interesting example taking advantage of an opportunity at work that enabled you to have a real positive social impact on an organization that you wanted to support and to also help your organization in some important way. I’m assuming it also it also helped your career, I’m inferring. Is that accurate?

AE: Absolutely.

SF: That is a great example of integrating the different parts of your life in a way that works for all of them, to look for and take opportunities that enable you to express what you believe is important and especially when it’s going to be helpful to your business life. You just had your first child. How has that changed things for you and the role that you play in the Chamber and how you’re thinking of your career?

AE: Everybody told me before I had the baby that it’s going to change my life completely, but until she was born and until I had held her for the first time, I really truly couldn’t understand what that meant. It’s just a richness and we are so blessed to have her. I’ve only been back at work for one month now. Interestingly I was promoted into this technology capacity two months before I had the baby so there’s been this break between work life and family life and now I’m trying to manage both together and its caused me to think through and make some difficult choices. As I alluded to earlier, one of those choices was I stepped out of the Chief of Staff capacity, where I had a relatively interesting job design with three very significant management roles. One with the technology program, one in an operational capacity as Chief of Staff, and one in our Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. And the beauty of having three months away from the office, where I was actually fairly disciplined at staying away from email and really focusing on the present and my child, my family, was when I came back my perspective was quite different.

SF: How has it changed?

AE: I thought about things like how can I set myself up to be successful rather than just taking on more and taking on more. I made a very conscious effort to see how I could do things differently and end up performing at a very high level. This entrepreneurial effort as it relates to technology was where the growth was, whereas the operational role, albeit extremely important, was something that I had done for a while and it was likely time to pass that opportunity on to someone else. But it was quite hard for me, to be candid with you, to say I can’t do everything anymore.

SF: You said earlier in our conversation that one of the keys to your successful growth in the early stages of your career was to step through the open doors. This is kind of contrary to that, isn’t it?

AE: Absolutely. There are days when I wonder if I made the right decision. When I take a step back and take a deep breath I’m very certain that the answer that is yes. It’s an inflection point and I’m sure that many people, particularly working mothers, question themselves: are you letting your career go by? are you making decisions that put you on a different trajectory? In this case, I felt like I needed to make sure that I was going to set myself up to be successful. And it was fairly evident to me that trying to do, in essence, three full-time jobs in addition to my new daughter is impossible. The idea of doing all those things so-so wasn’t appealing.  So I made a decision, and it will be an interesting experiment.

SF: What do you expect and what do you hope for? What do you think is going to happen? This is new for you, to say “no” to opportunities as opposed to saying “yes” to open doors.

AE: I expect that I’m going to have days where I’m going to be motivated to jump back into my old capacity. I’m going to have to be very disciplined about not doing that. Being Chief of Staff is one of those roles where people have been very conditioned to come to me for certain questions or certain advice. Helping people find somebody else to serve them in that counseling role is very important. On the other hand, it’s very easy to get dragged back in if somebody knocks on the door and just needs a few minutes. Then the next person needs 15 minutes and all of the sudden, your day has been eaten up.

SF: Right, but that’s been, as we have been saying, the key to your success, to be available, to jump in there, and be the Jane of all trades. And to get it done no matter what. Inflection point is an interesting way to put it. Saying “yes” is something you were really good at and got a lot of rewards for. What do you think is going to be helpful to you to have the courage to be able to draw those boundary lines?

AE: Well, I think a lot of it is how this new program is ultimately structured, and a lot of it is the team that we ultimately build. One of the things that I find to be both most satisfying and most important is creating a structure so people can succeed in the tasks ahead of them. Finding the talent who can help create this program from the ground up is exceedingly important. It’s the discipline of being conscious of my behavior as opposed to simply reverting back to what’s comfortable and what I have done to date.

SF: What’s the most important thing you want our listeners to know, both about what you do with the Chamber and what you discovered about leadership through your journey?

AE: One of the things that was most illuminating as a student in your program, Stew, was the conscious decisions that we make and I now no longer talk about “work -life balance.” Rather I talk about how do I make sure that I’m aligning myself with my own personal goals in the appropriate way and not just reverting to whatever is the most in need of attention and is drawing my resources that way. And while it’s never perfect, and clearly my daughter has changed everything in a very great way, it is being conscious about how I move forward in all of these various domains that at least gets me to the appropriate starting point and gives me the control to decide how I move forward as opposed to just reacting to what comes across the transom.

SF: Do you have a specific thing that you do to help you make those conscious and deliberate choices?

AE: It’s about friends, family members, and coworkers that help me through this journey, personally and professionally.

SF: They’re holding you accountable to what you believe in.

For more information about Amanda’s work and where you can contribute to the conversation at the Chamber about what the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation should be doing, now is a good time for you to go and add your voice by going to cati.uschamber.com.

Jacob Adler , jacob adlerW’18,  is a sophomore at Wharton and a contributor at The Daily Pennsylvanian, numberFire, and Fake Teams.

My Summer at Vynamic: Experiencing the Power of a Healthy Culture

By Leah Davidson

According to a 2013 Gallup survey, in the corporate world, there are twice as many unhappy employees as happy employees. An Accenture report traced dissatisfaction to a lack of recognition (43%), inability to act on employees’ entrepreneurial desire (35%), a lack of empowerment (31%), and a loss of trust with managers (31%).

“Is it possible to create an environment of empowerment in a more traditional industry like consulting?” This is one of the questions I asked myself as I started my internship at Vynamic, a boutique healthcare industry management consulting firm in Philadelphia founded by former Accenture executive Dan Calista in 2002.

Redefining the Consulting Model

When I first met with Dan in March, he described Vynamic’s company purpose as a belief in a better way to do management consulting. Vynamic has a unique staffing model, each consultant is in control of where they work and what they do, enabling consultants to select projects based on their career interests and skillset. Staying true to its commitment to a healthy culture, Vynamic promotes physical, mental, and emotional well-being at every level of the organization.

The company’s distinct qualities come across during an initial visit to the office, where every room is painted a unique team member’s “I Am” color to represent diversity and inspire a thriving creativity (my favorite was an office colored and named “Livestrong Yellow”); treadmills, sit-to-stand desks, balance balls, and elliptical bike chairs round out the seating options; and a Balance Bar offers an array of nutritious fruit and snacks. It is clear that, as Stew Friedman advocates in his Total Leadership model, Vynamic defines what’s most important and aligns actions with those values.


Davidson post livestrong

davidson post bike

A few of the programs organized internally at Vynamic to promote healthy living include:

  • Choose Your Own Community Adventure – During the summer, Vynamic team members organize service projects to benefit the local community, such as helping the Penn Vet Center with clean up and stuffing envelopes with Food Bucks, which provide healthy food to low-income families. Some Vynamic employees bring children and spouses along to share in the experience. Vynamic donates $100 to a charity of choice for each team member who volunteers an hour of his or her time, and team members can also vote for two charities to receive a $5000 corporate donation. I spent a Sunday afternoon in the beautiful Franklin Square volunteering at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Annual Picnic, a celebration for 900 children and mentors filled with Star Wars characters, food, crafts, and carousel rides. CYOCA is a perfect example of what Friedman calls four-way wins integrating work, home, community, and the private self. Community service increases work commitment and spiritual uplift and also allows the entire family to partake in company activities.

davidson post thrive live

Courtesy of Vynamic

  • Thrive Live – Every month, Vynamic coordinates social events to promote team connectivity. During my 11-week internship, I participated in a cupcake competition (so delicious!), a Dave and Buster’s arcade night, and a cheesesteak testing around Philadelphia with the new Indego bike-share program.

davidson post feast

Courtesy of Vynamic

  • Women at Vynamic Experience (WAVE) – To support women’s professional development, Vynamic offers personal coaching as well as quarterly breakfasts on themes such as executive presence, networking, and the art of self-promotion. These offer a forum for women to discuss the unique challenges they face in the workplace and engage men in conversations about leadership.
  • Be Your Best Self – Vynamic has a dedicated Health and Care Lead. As part of the programming, team members can set quarterly goals toward healthy living and receive $100 per quarter (up to $400 per year). This benefit encourages employees to try out new activities, such as learning a foreign language or trying Pilates for the first time.
  • zzzMail – The company has a policy to not send emails between 10 pm and 6 am or on weekends to reduce stress and allow people to enjoy more restful sleep and family time.
  • Healthy Hour – From financial planning sessions to healthy cooking demos, Vynamic holds activities on Fridays in the office to foster continuous education. I met Andrew Stober, a city council candidate, and heard his views on the future of public transportation in Philadelphia, learned how to make delicious Mediterranean orzo salad, and discovered the art of mindfulness during my first yoga session.

Engaging The Entire Person

With a core value of “growing for our people, not at the expense of our people” and “thriving with freedom to apply our unique strengths,” Vynamic offers an alternative to the typical corporate hierarchy, structured yet non-hierarchical. New hires are asked to choose a color that embodies their personality, and these are proudly showcased on business cards, the website, and the office wall.

The company uses Yammer as an internal social network to post updates, praise team members, share healthcare industry news, and commemorate company events through photos and videos. They also leverage a document repository, which gives employees access to everything from deliverables from all completed consulting projects to recruiting materials and scores from past happiness surveys (yes, there is a quarterly “Happiness Survey”!). Even as an intern, I appreciated feeling engaged in the company’s culture and knowledgeable about the strategic vision.

Too Good to be True?

Before joining Vynamic, I spoke with a Wharton alum about why she chose Vynamic. She explained, “I used to get anxiety about receiving that phone call, saying you have to be on a plane the next morning. And I knew that as I progressed at a larger consulting firm, I would still have to be away from my kids several days per week. This is the first time that I’ve woken up each morning and felt excited about coming to work.” My immediate thought was that Vynamic sounded too perfect.

After a summer at Vynamic, I can tell that employees face the same challenges as anyone would expect in a demanding client-facing role – many also juggle parenting multiple children under the age of five; however, the organizational design doesn’t force people to choose between their personal and career aspirations. Instead, it embraces the full person.

Vynamic shows how companies can foster four-way wins to promote effective leadership in all aspects of one’s life. Hopefully, more will heed its example.

About the Author

Leah Davidson, Wharton class of 2016, is majoring in Economics with concentrations in Management and Global Innovation and a minor in English.

Leah Davidson

You Can Go Home Again — James Joseph

Contributor: Sathvik Ramanan

Work and Life is a radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday at 7 pm EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with James Joseph, a business professional who spent 18 years in sales and marketing at global giants such as Microsoft, 3M, and Ford. He’s the author of God’s Own Office: How One Man Worked for a Global Giant from His Village in Kerala. He is also the founder of Jackfruit 365. Mr. Joseph spoke with Stew about how he was able to discover a work-life harmony by working from his home village.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: On this show, we talk about how you can make changes in your life to better align what you care about with what you do. You’ve written about moving back to your home village where you could have a work life with responsibility, impact, and resources to get a lot done, but your children could have an opportunity to grow up in a way that was similar to your own upbringing in a small village. How did you make that change happen? It must have been very risky.

James Joseph: James JosephIt was risky, but I think I planned the change really well; it was possible because I had the global exposure. I could work with anyone around the world, I already had global expertise. I had proven myself in three different continents, and I could fly out at any time to perform my job and then fly back to live in my little village.

SF: What did you have to do to be able to make such a radical shift for you and your family?

JJ: It was definitely tough. It took a lot of negotiation at Microsoft for them to agree for me to be able to leave the city and move back to a remote village. I put myself on a business case where I started to travel seven to eight days a month across all cities in India – India is large geographically, like the US – because the firm’s work happens in all different cities. Even though I was based in one city, only one-fifth of my time was spent in that city. Most of the time, I had to fly around and go for meetings with all my clients. It took me 90 minutes to go from my house in Bangalore to the airport and another 45 minutes to go through security. Then once I got to my destination, I was wasting a lot of time in traffic in the cities in India because, as I’m sure you know, the traffic situation in India is horrendous. Now, if I do the same thing from my village in Kerala, it takes me 10 minutes to get to the airport and 5 minutes to go through check in!

SF: So you made the business case to your colleagues and the decision-makers at Microsoft that you could save a lot of money and time by living in your home village?

JJ: Correct. And additionally, because an average employee in a city spends at least two hours every day in commuter traffic, but in my village, since I worked from home, I saved two hours every day. Half of that time I gave back to work, and half of it I devoted to my life – everybody wins. My managers said that since I felt so strongly about it, they would give me a six-month trial period, and if my performance went down, I’d have to come back to the city.

SF: That’s a great model, and it’s something we talk about often here on the show: designing experiments that have a time limit to them and, after which, all parties who have a stake in the outcome get to have a say in whether or not they feel the experiment is working. It’s not like you’re doing this forever; it starts out as a trial.

JJ: And I appreciated that. I’m a manager so I know that a job has to be performed well.  So after six months I got a call from the manager who had to approve that move. Actually, I first got a call and afterward a text message which read check your email, and take a bow. I looked at my email on my smart phone, and saw that I had won the highest award of Microsoft Worldwide. It turned out that my performance had been significantly up since I moved back to my village because I saved so much time. Beyond that, I felt I had the best quality of life, and I enjoyed my work. I call this the work-life resonance. It goes beyond work-life balance because, to me, balance requires a compromise between two.

SF: I couldn’t agree more. I talk about this all the time – that it’s not just about balance. Say more about what work life harmony means to you.

JJ: When I was in college, I learned that resonance means when two objects are vibrating at the natural frequency, and their sum is bigger than the individual parts. Essentially, I felt my life was in its natural frequency, and my work was also operating at its natural frequency.

SF: That’s great. Has it still been going well for you since then?

JJ:  Yes, absolutely. One of the CEOs of Infosys, one of the largest firms in India, told me that I must document my experience so that more youngsters can get the courage to do what I have done.

SF: So that’s the essence of what your book is about? Let’s talk about the lessons that you teach in God’s Own Office. What do our listeners need to know about to better align what they care about with what they do.

JJ: There’s a couple of big things which I talk about. First, is that you must have a strong conviction that this is what you want in life. And second, you need a constant focus. In my case, as I went around the world and came back, I used my Windows login password to remind me of my conviction. When I was a child, I learned about the importance of naming your child in order to remind them of something which they should be conscious of. My Windows login password is what I get reminded of more often even than my own name.

SF: Your Windows login password is like a mantra for you and a reminder of what’s important. That’s a great idea. We can all think about using a password — something that we use all the time and words that we actually have to type in – to represent an idea that reminds us of what matters most.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

To learn more about James Joseph’s book, God’s Own Office, click here.

About the Author

Sathvik Ramanan Sathvik Ramananis an undergraduate freshman in the Vagelos Program in the Life Sciences and Management at the University of Pennsylvania.


The Quest for Real Value: Investor Guy Spier

Contributor: Andrea Yeh

Work and Life is a radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday at 7 pm EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Guy Spier, author of The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment.  He writes about what really matters in work and life and why these questions are important for a successful investor.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Let me just start by asking you about what is probably your greatest claim to fame: having bid over $650,000 for a lunch with Warren Buffett.  That’s more money than most people on this planet make in a lifetime.  Why did you spend so much to spend lunch with Warren Buffett?

Guy Spier: guy spierWell, I should say that I got to buy in at discount.  I was one-third of that, and my bidding partner Mohnish Pabrai was two-thirds of that.  I went with my wife, and Mohnish went with his wife and two daughters, so I was one of six guests.  If you think of the numerous amounts that we’ve given to charity, where all you get is a plaque or your name on a building but you don’t get to hang out with somebody who’s unusually interesting, then it already puts a different light on it.  Mohnish understood more than I did at the time that to spend time in the company of extraordinary people is – if you can afford to do it – very, very worthwhile, even if you have to spend a lot of money on it. There are a small number of people who’ve figured out an awful lot more than we have, and while studying them from afar is good, being in their presence can be an extraordinary growth accelerator.

SF: One of the things you point to in your book is the importance of surrounding yourself with people whose values are aligned with yours.  That’s the case with you and Buffett, right?

GS: Absolutely.  Here’s what happens when you spend time with Warren Buffett.  You learn how little time and energy he spends doing things he doesn’t like to do.  One big thing about being authentic is that it just takes up less energy.  When you are authentic with yourself and with the world, you waste less energy trying to be different things to different people.  We often try to present one mask at work and another mask elsewhere.  We can do it, but it just takes so much energy– energy that could be used more productively.

SF: It’s a topic that we’ve been talking about a lot on this show lately –the masks that we wear and the costs of having to disguise who we truly are in the workplace.  It’s just so much simpler and more elegant to be who you are, but it takes a lot of courage to do that, and you had to muster quite a bit of courage to find who you really were in your work, didn’t you, Guy?

GS: My book was useless until I got the courage to be honest with the world and write about this horrible place where I worked straight out of business school.  The funny and strange thing about courage in the work-life business environment is that it seems that when we have the courage to be honest, people respect us for it.  I remember the first time I felt as though I really had courage in my fund world.  I was in an investor meeting, and somebody asked me, “So Guy, you’ve talked about the things that you buy.  Could you tell us what your sell discipline is?”  I mustered some courage in that moment to say, “You know what, I’ll be honest with you.  I suck at selling.  I don’t have a good sell discipline.  Let me tell you why.”  There was a sort of sharp intake, a gasp of breath with some people – at least that’s what I sensed.  I walked out of there with that really horrible feeling that I was going to get all these redemption requests the next day.

SF: So you thought people would want to sell your funds rather than stay with you?

GS: Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of, but instead I was given respect.  People understood more about who I was, and I attracted more of the right kind of investors into my fund as a result.  You asked me about spending time around the right people.  I had this lunch with my friend Mohnish and he mentioned various books to me.  One of the books that he mentioned was the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi.  So after this meal, I went out and bought the book, but it sat on my shelf for two or three years before I read it.  When I finally read it, I discovered that Mahatma Gandhi, in his autobiography, talks about his experiences with prostitutes.  My jaw dropped.  It was utterly shocking to me that he would do that, and that was an incredible example of the power of authenticity.

SF: Is that what gave you the courage to declare as much as you did about your early days post-MBA?

GS: I think that that was part of it.  It was this determination to be honest with the world and that I had to do it at this point in my life because if I didn’t do it now, I might never do it.  But it wasn’t just Mahatma Gandhi.  Warren Buffett is extremely honest with the world.  Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and the person who Warren Buffett thinks of as his partner, has a great line: “It’s better not to lie.  Then you don’t have to remember what you said to whom.”

SF: That’s a core principle of the great leaders I have known and admired, and it’s wonderful to see how you have demonstrated it.  I want to step back here and ask what the essence of your idea in the book, The Education of a Value Investor, is?

GS: I think you could actually bring it down to the idea that it was only when I became authentic with myself that my career and my life really got started.  It was only when I became authentic with my shortcomings as an investor and around money that I could really start to go about conquering my drawbacks, and that made me ultimately far stronger.  The ultimate message is to really find ourselves in finance or with our own finances and with investing.  The ultimate answers all lie within ourselves; they don’t lie outside.  When we’re experiencing difficulties in the world in our careers, the real place to look is in our own backgrounds, foibles, and weaknesses.

SF: And how did you come to understand that?  This is ancient wisdom in modern language and modern times.  For you personally, in your journey of self-discovery, what led you to this recognition?

GS: I think one thing that was really important was the realization that the answers did not lie in economics, finance, or the capital asset pricing model, so the first thing was to know where not to look.  I was living in New York City at the time.  While New York City is a vortex for all sorts of reasons, it’s also a great place for people who are on a journey of discovery.  There’s every different type of psychotherapist under the sun, and I must have tried them all.  I started on a reading program of reading dozens of different kinds of books.  Somebody who had a deep impact on me was Joseph Campbell, who wrote the book The Hero of a Thousand Faces.  He’s got this idea of seeking your own bliss and that we should each be heroes of our own journey.  When I read that and had that idea in my mind, I suddenly realized why things like the Iliad and the Odyssey are great stories that we continue to read in western civilization.  The key point is that Odysseus is somebody who we should try to be like.  He overcame his difficulties, and we have our own difficulties to overcome.  We shouldn’t look at him as the hero and us poor humans as so useless.  As is written in the literature of ancient Greece, he’s doing these epic battles, and for each and every one of us, there is an epic battle going on as well.  It’s just that simple shift of mind – seeing ourselves as heroes – that gave me a lot more resources to start confronting my fears of writing about my horrible experiences in an investment bank.  Now I had Odysseus by my side.

SF: I want to return to what lessons you want to try to impart to others who might be struggling.  I know that there are people listening right now thinking, Gee, how did he do that?  How did he just get off the treadmill of the very attractive and perhaps seductive world of finance to find his own path that was closer to his own values?  How, in a nutshell, were you able to make that transformation?

GS: I saw myself as this investment banker at this bucket shop, and seeing Warren Buffett with shining lights on the hill, I had no clue about how to get from where I was to something closer to what he was.  I think of the people who climbed Everest for the first time.  Before he climbed Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary did not sit around saying, “Well I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to the top of Everest.”  He said, “If I want to climb Everest, what kind of equipment do I need?  What kind of training do I need?”  And then he asked himself as he was going up, “Am I closer to the summit, or am I further away from the summit?”  I think that that simple thinking is what I started applying in my life.  I started asking myself, If Warren Buffett was sitting at my desk at this firm, what would he do?  So I summoned the powers or the presence of these people who were heroes to me, and I started making modifications.  The truth is that if Warren Buffett had been in my shoes, he would have walked straight out of there, and I didn’t do that.  But the process doesn’t have to be perfect; it can be gradual.  We need to make incremental steps.  We need to never lose the dream, and we need to keep introducing things into our lives that might get us closer to that dream.  I think it’s a lifelong process.  When the time is right – I don’t think I’m a religious person, but there’s a sudden religious quality to this –the universe opens up to us, but it only opens up to us if we’ve been spending all of our time preparing, working really hard at it, and nibbling away at it.  Now if you have somebody who’s sitting in a job earning money that their family may need, I don’t think that it is in any way practical to tell that person that he needs to make all these radical changes and that everything will work out fine. I don’t think it’s fair to tell them that it’s so simple.  It’s not simple.  The struggle is hard.  That’s why we should consider ourselves as heroes.  Odysseus didn’t make it home in a day.  He had so many battles that he needed to fight, so many fears that he had to overcome.

SF: And what about you?  Let’s get back to your story. Can you give us an example of a misstep that you made where you learned something useful in retrospect?

GS: My situation at that investment bank reminds me of the scene in the Titanic movie when the rich guy with the gun is trying to chase the guy who’s gone off with his fiancée, and he realizes that the ship is sinking.  He suddenly notices that he’s focusing on the wrong thing.  He should be focused on saving himself.  There I was at that investment bank deeply embedded in the machinations of trying to win credit for the deals I felt I was bringing in.  I was participating in the politics and incapable of standing back and seeing the bigger picture.  I couldn’t see that I was never going to win in that environment and that winning in that environment would have compromised my soul to a horrible degree.  That was just such a waste of time.  That brings me to the one big misstep that I was going to share with you.  So there I was – I had managed to start my fund, but I developed deep, deep envy.  At the time, I was running a perfectly respectable fund with about $50 million in it, which was more than anybody needed to run a fund and to live a successful happy life.  However, I was surrounded by classmates who were managing a hundred times the amount of money that I was managing.

SF: Making you feel puny, perhaps?

GS: As I write in the book, I felt like my very manhood was in question.  I would have never admitted it to you or anybody else at the time, but what I was experiencing was the green monster.

SF: But you were able to get past that somehow.  As the twenty-seven year old you were at that time, were you capable of the kind of insight that you’ve now gleaned over time to see that the person who matters most is the one that you look at in the mirror, not those who have ten times or a hundred times what you have in the bank?

GS: In my case, there were no big breakthroughs.  It was about constantly exposing myself to opportunities to introspect through psychotherapy and YPO and entrepreneur forums.  My view is that humanity is infinite, and therefore there are an infinite number of ways to introspect.  I don’t think that any one way is better than any other way.  It can be whatever works for you at the time, be it going to yoga classes, practicing meditation, taking part in your religious tradition, or exploring a new religious tradition.  I think if I get it down to their core, a big part of what do religious traditions try to do is to preserve environments and conditions in which human beings discover their capacities to introspect.

SF: That’s what those rituals are all about, isn’t it?  It’s about taking time to reflect on what matters.

GS: Absolutely.  They’re this sort of vessel, but what’s really important is what’s being carried in the vessel.  I think there’s a bias that books have.  In a book, you get edited down, and so much has to be excluded, so you end up talking about the three big ideas or the one big idea and sometimes it’s not three or one big idea, it’s hundreds of small ideas.  In my case, I think there was no one single thing that enabled me to suddenly see that I was consumed by envy.  At some point, there was a painful realization, but there was something good on the other side. Once I realized it, I could clean it up pretty quickly. But exactly how I got there had something to do with surrounding myself with people who were better than I was.  If you surround yourself with people who are slightly better, more honest, more authentic, and more capable of introspection, that’s going to rub off on you, and I think I was doing that.  And it didn’t happen in three or four weeks or even five or six months.  It was more like a decade of pushing in that direction.

To learn more about Guy Spier, visit www.aquamarinefund.com, or follow him on Twitter @gspier.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Andrea Yeh Andrea Yehis an undergraduate junior majoring in Operations and Information Management and in International Relations.

A Life of Learning Leadership — Eric Greitens

Contributor: Morgan Motzel

Work and Life is a 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 at 7:00 PM EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Eric Greitens, former Navy SEAL and Purple Heart recipient, CEO of the Greitens Group, and author of the memoir The Heart and the Fist, about his not-for-profit The Mission Continues, which empowers returning veterans of foreign wars to continue to serve in their home communities.

Stew Friedman: Eric, you are the youngest of the six people that I profiled in my new book, Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. The oldest, by the way, is Bruce Springsteen, so you two guys anchored the age scale. But you’ve truly lived a number of lives in the time you’ve lived on this beautiful earth: you’ve been a Rhodes Scholar, a humanitarian worker, a Navy Seal, and the founder of a very important and successful not-for-profit about which you wrote in your memoir, The Heart and the Fist.

Let me ask you about the moments that were of particular interest to me. You were a boxer and a humanitarian worker back in the 90s. What did you learn from those experiences that served you well in your service in the military and in your founding of The Mission Continues?

Eric Greitens:  Eric GreitensI’ve truly learned a lot from both of those experiences. I started boxing when I was at Duke University—college kid going down to a gym in the inner city there in North Carolina. What was fun for me was that I had this great boxing coach named Earl Blair. Earl Blair had grown up in the Depression, served in the military at the tail end of World War II, and was working in a warehouse when he was coaching me. His real passion, though, was teaching boxing, and he was really teaching life at night to a bunch of kids who really needed it in this gym in the inner city. One of the things that Earl always said to me when I was boxing was to “watch Derek.” Derek was one of my training partners—he was about 26 years old, a professional fighter, and a construction worker. Every time I’d step up to the heavy bags, to the speed bags, to the jump rope, Earl would always say, “Watch Derek.”

The lesson that Earl knew was that we learn best when we actually have models in front of us. He understood that it’s really hard for us to learn any new skill on our own, but when we have a model whom we can imitate and emulate, it helps us learn much more quickly. Now what was fun for me was that I’d be doing this down in the boxing gym, and then I’d be back on campus later reading Aristotle, who says, “You will know what the good thing is by seeing what the good person does.” So I had Aristotle and my boxing coach Earl Blair both saying the same thing.

The lesson I’ve taken from that, which certainly we use in the work we do at The Mission Continues with returning veterans, is that oftentimes, especially when things are hard, especially when people are facing a place of pain, hardship, and difficulty, they need to have a model in front of them for how to get through it.

In practice, what we do at The Mission Continues is, if we have a group of 100 veterans coming together from Afghanistan and Iraq, and we’re at the end of our opening weekend, we will make sure that over the course of the weekend they will hear from a veteran who’s dealt with and overcome severe post-traumatic stress disorder. They’ll see and hear the story of a veteran who might have lost his eyesight, lost a limb, or been severely burned. They’ll talk to people who had trouble integrating with their family when they came back, people who struggled financially or who struggled to set up or find private sector employment. By seeing these models of people who have successfully made it through hardship, people begin to see how they can do this again in their own lives. I think that was one of the things I learned from Earl that we use in the work that we do today. I think we always have to make sure, no matter what age we are, that we have models to emulate.

SF: This is a fantastic example of one of the skills that I really hone in on in your story. For each of the six people I analyzed, I wanted to see what are the skills that these great leaders and people of significance have cultivated to lead the lives they truly want and go out and serve others with their talents and passions. The one that you’re referring to here, Eric, is this notion of applying all your resources, which means taking what you’ve learned or somehow gathered in one part of your life and applying it in others. Learning the value of models, even 20 years ago, is something that you’re now bringing to bear in making The Mission Continues even more powerful. It’s just one example of many that is illustrated in your story, and it’s a great one. Taking the lessons of experience from wherever you get them—whether it’s a ratty gym in the inner city of Durham or on the fields of battle—and then using them later in life by harvesting those skills and applying them, which you did so well.

There are other things that you’ve learned, especially in your humanitarian efforts, about how people survive in the most challenging and even horrific circumstances. Can you talk about that?

EG: My first real experience of doing hard humanitarian work overseas was in Bosnia in 1994. As people will remember, this was during the horrible campaigns of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. I was 20 years old at the time, and I was living and working in refugee camps. I remember I’d see people step off of these busses into the refugee camps, and they were literally carrying everything that they owned. They’d lost their homes, they’d lost their clothing, and they’d lost every material possession. Many of them had also lost friends and had lost family. If somebody listening right now thinks about that—what it would be like right now to lose everything you own and step. What I saw that was interesting in the refugee camps was that oftentimes the people who were doing best in the camp were the parents and grandparents who had really young kids. The people who were oftentimes struggling the most were the people who were my age at the time, older teenagers or young adults. They felt like their lives had been cut short, but they didn’t really feel like they had any purpose to serve.

SF: Because they had no dependents? There was nobody counting on them?

EG: Exactly. The parents and the grandparents knew that every single day they had to get up and be strong because their kid was counting on them. That lesson, again, is something we took to the work we do at The Mission Continues, and I think it is a lesson for all of us. When things are really hard, when we’re really struggling in a situation of pain and hardship, it’s really natural and can be really easy to turn in on ourselves. What we often need to do is to remember the fact that there are other people counting on us to be strong. When we have a sense of purpose that is larger than ourselves, and when we remember that other people need our strength and what we have to offer, it often helps us to make it through those difficult situations as well.

SF: That is the ultimate theme that I drew from writing these six biographies. I looked back and thought, well, that’s it! Each and every one of the people that I wrote about, including you, has found a way to use their particular skills and passions and converted that to value to others. I think that is how you lead the life you want—you get the strength of confidence to progress through life, through all its disappointments and tragedies, by having this mindset of “Where can I serve?” and “How can I be of value?”

EG: One of the nice things I picked out from the book when reading about Bruce Springsteen is where you talk about how he embodies values consistently and creates this culture of innovation. It’s this idea that there are specific skills that people can pull on, build, and develop, and I think your book is a whole series of models about how people can learn from others to build the life they want.

SF: Another one of the skills I thought was so powerfully illustrated in your story was this notion of holding yourself accountable. Your story, to me, is such a wonderful example of doing that when you realized that compassion and charitable works were not enough, and that, when there are bad guys out there, they must be stopped through physical means. Can you talk about how you came to that realization and what it meant for you to make the decision to hold yourself accountable for what was emerging as your understanding of what your core values really were?

EG: I remember when I was a young kid, I wanted to make a difference. In the cleansing in Bosnia and in the genocide in Rwanda where over 800,000 to one million people had been killed, I remember talking to a number of refugees, and they all said some version of, “Listen, we really appreciate that you’re here, and we’re glad that there is a roof over our head, and we really deeply appreciate the fact that there’s food for our families to eat. You’ve even set up places for refugee kids to go to school…” But what was also really clear, and in fact, one guy in Bosnia said this to me: “If people really cared about us, they’d also be willing to protect us.”

I didn’t know what to say to him at the time, but I thought about what he said later, and I realized that what he said was true. If we really care about something, then we’re willing to respond not only with compassion, but we’re also willing to respond with courage. We’re willing to protect those things we care about. For me, at the time I was doing a lot of this work, I was a graduate student. I was talking a lot, I was thinking a lot, and that was all important. But I also felt very strongly that if I was going to hold myself accountable, if I was going to live my values, I also had to find a way to be willing to protect others. That led me to think about joining the US military and ultimately the SEAL teams.

SF: What was the internal struggle there to come to that decision? In terms of being willing to make that kind of change and sacrifice in your everyday life?

EG: One of the things that happens in life is that we all want good things. I was 26 years old, and I joined the military relatively late. At the time, I was finishing a PhD, and I was in a very comfortable place where I had an offer to stay in a university and continue to teach, and I knew that would have been valuable and meaningful work. I had an opportunity to go to a consulting firm which offered to pay me more money than both of my parents had ever made in any one year period, and I also had this offer from the United States Navy where they said, “We’ll pay you $1,332.60 per month.” They said, “The deal is if you sign up on the dotted line, then you’re going to owe us eight years. In return for that, we’ll give you one and only one chance at basic underwater demolition sea training. If you make it through, you’ll be on your way to being a Navy SEAL, but if you don’t, you’re still going to owe us eight years.” It’s not actually a really great recruiting pitch from the Navy. [Laughs].

But I remember as I was thinking about all of these options, there was actually a moment when I walked into this place on the University of Oxford campus called Rhodes House, and I looked up and saw these names etched in the marble of the Rotunda where you walked into the building. I didn’t know what those names were, so I asked somebody later, and it turned out those were the names of students who had left school in World War I and World War II and who had fought and died overseas.

It’s a really powerful reminder. It was a reminder for me, and it was a reminder, I think, for everybody who walks through those doors that our lives are only possible because people before us had been willing to serve and willing to sacrifice. And for me, at that moment, I thought about what you write in your book a lot about how we have to hold ourselves accountable. When I looked up at those names, I thought that I had to take advantage of this opportunity to serve and that I had to find a way to contribute, and again, that’s what led me there.

SF: So that was the turning point, seeing those names on the wall?

EG: It was a really important moment, yes.

SF: You also told me in our conversations for the book that, even as a kid, you had kind of fantastical ideas about wanting to be in a historical moment where you did something important.

EG: Yes, absolutely. I remember as a kid actually reading these books in my local public library—I’d hang out in a little corner and read—and I remember worrying that all of the great battles had already been fought. All of the important things had already been done, and all of these new lands had been discovered. I wondered, What can I do? What can we do? I think, for all of us, if we’re going to build our vocation and really build our sense of purpose, we’re going to have to find ways to embrace our own time and the challenges that we have in front of us. Thinking like that led me to go to Bosnia and Rwanda and start this journey where I joined the SEAL teams and started The Mission Continues. I wouldn’t have been able to anticipate any of that when I was a kid, but the journey has been a good one.

SF: So how do you teach that idea? How do you convey it to young people or the people you work with through The Mission Continues—this notion of finding that connection to what you really care about, what you stand for, what you’re willing to die for, and to move in that direction? I think that’s an issue that many people face, and learning to hold yourself accountable is a skill that’s not easy to hone and develop. It’s easy to slip.

EG: It is incredibly easy to slip, and I think that one of the things we have to do is to get rid of this notion that you can find your purpose. I often tell people you can’t find your purpose because your purpose isn’t lost. It’s not like it’s sitting out there somewhere waiting for you to find it. When you look at the lives of people who have really lived full and harmonious lives, as you talk about, Stew, you find that it is a process of creation. Often what we have to do is to throw ourselves into things, not knowing exactly where they’re going to take us. For me, it was throwing myself into boxing when I was at Duke and throwing myself into the study of philosophy. When you really dive in, it’s actually in that experience of pushing yourself, of challenging yourself, of having the right mentors, of being a part of the right teams—that’s where you really build that passion and create it, actually in the process of doing the work itself.

SF: Some people think of that as education. You explore new avenues for bringing your talents, your ideas, your passions to whatever circumstances are available to you, and you discover along the way, but you need help with that, right? Your story is such a great one in illustrating how you drew on the support of many mentors throughout your life and career. You wouldn’t be where you are now if not for Earl Blair, I would venture to say.

EG: I wouldn’t be where I am without Earl Blair, Barb Osburg, my high school English teacher, Bruce Carl, my Leadership St. Louis mentor when I was a teenager, so many great professors at Duke University, and so many good friends. I think that if we have the humility to recognize that everyone has something to teach us, then we can go out into the world and find ways to learn from our peers, learn from our fellow students, learn from colleagues, and really make everyone a teacher for us.

SF:  There’s an important caveat in that statement, and that is “if you have the humility.” You learned that somehow—probably your parents taught it to you or maybe you picked it up somewhere else. How do you coach people, especially young people, to understand the importance of learning from the world around them, and especially learning from people who have been around for a while?

EG: One of the things I think we have to do is to structure activities for young people where they are, in fact, learning from mentors. Too often today when we think about education, we only think about kids learning information. There’s an aspect of education in the sense that they’re going to learn information, but there’s also an important aspect of cultural training, and this comes from coaches, and it comes from mentors. I think it’s really important for young people to be engaged in these kinds of activities where they can learn from a mentor.

In fact, it’s important not just for kids, but for all of us to do that. I found it’s important for me to do it at my age. For example, I just started Taekwondo a couple of years ago. One of the great things about that is that I got to a place in my life where I was the CEO of my own company, I was running The Mission Continues, and I was writing books, but it’s really important in my life, and I think maybe for others as well, to always be at a place where you’re learning. It’s about learning wherever you are, and it’s about building a life so that in an aspect of your life you’re always learning from people around you. I think that spirit of always being the student, at least in part of your life, is really important, especially as we get into positions of more and more power and prominence where we’re leaders in companies and leaders in families. If we have that place where we’re also always students, it reminds us to stay humble and to keep learning.

SF: Eric, let me ask you just one more question. You’ve recently become a father. Can you give us a brief insight into how that’s changed your perspective on leading the life you want?

EG: I am so excited Joshua arrived just eleven weeks ago. It’s been a mind-blowingly wonderful experience. One thing that parenting does do for sure—and other people have said this—is that it gives you a sense of your own mortality. I’m excited for the life that Joshua’s going to lead, and we, as parents, really want to think about what’s going to be lasting and what our legacy is going to be.

Eric Greitens is the founder of The Mission Continues, a not-for-profit that helps returning veterans continue to serve in their home communities, and the CEO of The Greitens Group.  He is also the author of The Heart and The Fist and a former Navy Seal and Purple Heart recipient. For information on his new book coming out in March, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life and more,visit him online at www.ericgreitens.com, or follow him on Twitter @EricGreitens.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.


Morgan Motzel is an undergraduate senior in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at Penn focusing on Management and Latin America.

Choose to Matter! — Julie Foudy on Work and Life

Work and Life is a 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 at 7:00 PM EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Julie Foudy, former Captain of the US Women’s Olympic Soccer Team, current reporter and analyst at ESPN/ABC, and founder of the Sports Leadership Academy for girls.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: You are one of the six people I profile in Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. You especially exemplify the important skills of knowing what matters, helping others, and challenging the status quo.  You chose, for instance, to compete in an international soccer tournament over your high school graduation.  You were the first athlete to go overseas to inspect a factory before accepting an all-important and lucrative endorsement.  How did you come to understand what was important to you, what mattered most, and how did you have the courage to act on your core values?

Julie Foudy: Julie Foudy I think probably my parents helped. I was the fourth of four kids and maybe it was a consequence of being the fourth or maybe they were just hands-off, in a positive way, to the point of not coming to soccer game when I was little. I was not ever dependent on their praise. Everything I did I did it because I wanted to. I was innately competitive.

So, when I chose to go to Italy with U.S. National Team instead of my high school graduation, there was so much drama – girls saying, “How could you?”  But that’s how I won my spot on the team. I asked my parents. Now, today, parents would say, “Go!” Today parents want “success.” My parents said, “What do you want to do?”

SF: How does knowing what’s important play out in your philosophy for your Leadership Academy?

JF: We say “choose to matter.” I’m a big believer that there’s not a box that’s checked off when you’re born that says you’re a leader.  Leaders come in different shapes and sizes, including those who are not most vocal or confident. Girls, instead of raising hands, they defer. It’s the norm even with the popular and confident girls. We emphasize that you choose your attitude. “Success isn’t a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice” was an epiphany for me. We help empower girls to make decisions which strengthens them because they know we trust them.

SF: So this cuts against cultural values that girls grow up with and they have to be taught, even the athletes.

JF: Yes, we teach them that it’s OK to voice opinion, to raise a hand. It’s a transformational experience that it’s OK to be different.  Parents comment, “My kid is totally different.”  They go home with a service project in their home community. Everyone can lead. It’s personal, not positional. So, some give time once a year at local nonprofit, or once a week at senior center, most do soccer clinics for kids with disabilities. So they have to create a team to support their idea, they need mentors to learn from, and they have to work with their parents. This quiet, awkward kid…and then the school takes it on, and then the community. It’s transformational.  We ask, “If I had a magic wand, what would I change?” End bullying, clean the local park.

SF: Everybody has something they are passionate about.

JF: Yes, and that helps develop confidence. We say, “I am the change.” Empowering young women.

SF: When you were playing and you learned that the women on the soccer tour were getting a raw deal and you began your new role as an advocate for women in sports.  How can people develop the courage to challenge the norm?

JF: The Women’s Sports Foundation, founded by Billie Jean King, is where I first learned about all this. Title IX one of the most profound civil rights laws: Back then, only one in 27 girls was playing sports and now one in three are playing!  Title IX is an education amendment meant to help women get into universities and colleges. But in the fine print it says that any institution that receives federal funding has to provide equal educational and sports opportunities.

SF: So, what’s the most important piece of advice you have for challenging the status quo, for standing up for what matters most?

JF: I was told, “If everyone likes you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”  And the other piece of advice is to smile through it. You’ve got to laugh.

Julie Foudy, former Captain of the US Women’s Olympic Soccer Team, current reporter and analyst at ESPN/ABC, and founder of The Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy for girls.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday at 7:00 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.


Building a Life, Not a Resume — Tom Tierney

Work and Life is a 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 at 7:00 PM EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Tom Tierney, Chairman and Co-founder of Bridgespan, the leader in non-profit consulting, and former CEO of Bain.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: You are one of the six people I profile in Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.  In my analysis of your life story, I describe how you exemplify the skills of envisioning your legacy, weaving disparate strands, and seeing new ways of doing things.  What do you do to ensure you’re building a life and not a resume?

Tom Tierney: Tom Tierny I heard recently that “days are long but life is short.”  It’s important to step back and ask what matters.  We are all different and have an opportunity to take advantage of our unique circumstance and gifts and apply those to achieve “success” as we define it. I try to step back and ask, “Have we achieved those things in life that matter most to us?” “What have you done with your gifts?” It’s not what’s in the bank or on paper.

SF: So toenvision your legacy, you try to keep the big picture in mind.

TT: What is success in life for me? I ask myself periodically. And at the end of the year I do a retreat with myself, and with my notebooks.  How’d I do this year with my wife? My sons? Work? Community? My volunteer activities? How’d I do? What can I do better? I keep a journal. A couple of dozen by now.  The act of writing helps me think about it and to overcome inertia.  Time marches on and we have to get ahead of time. I keep notes, get feedback from others.  My wife is my best coach. She asks, “Are you sure you’re living up to what you want to achieve?”

SF:  You have a commitment to continual learning and reflection, examining what is and what might be. And you invest time to reflect. But you must face pressure to get on with other things and pressure from others to do so.  How do you keep that commitment to journaling, reflecting?

TT: Discipline is a really important attribute. Someone asked if, all things being equal I’d rather have 20% smarter or 20% more disciplined on my team. It’s the later, because that person is able to make tough decisions at the margins, tiny tradeoffs. For example, I walk to work, and then there’s the escalator or 45 steps. I take the 45 steps.

SF: You’re smart about your choices.  They’re deliberate.

TT: Discipline manifests itself in little ways.  Do I exercise? Work at home or go in on the weekend? Not check email in the evening.  It’s the little choices on the margins that add up.

SF: How do you manage pressure from colleagues? How do you keep those boundaries?

TT: I find that most of the challenge is in my own head; thinking that I’m indispensable. I’ve experimented with being off the grid and surprisingly the world does not stop. And of the hundreds of emails, I find that someone else handled it, or it wasn’t really urgent. We too often focus on what is urgent versus what’s important.

SF: How do you remain focused on what’s really important and not get caught up in the urgent?

TT: I’ll ask the question, “How important is it today? And how important is it for the future?”  Here are my priorities, things I value, that really matter to me.  We are too reactive to the urgent. It’s asking the question. Making time to look backwards and forwards.  Creating feedback loops. And not getting caught up with inertia or what other people want.

SF: Is this what you’re teaching about leadership at West Point?

TT: I conduct seminars on how to succeed at life. People say the cadets are too young.  But this is always relevant because we are always confronted with choices. And we can learn from each others’ experiences.  We are all the same. Who isn’t struggling with having a great home life and work life?  We want to learn from authorities. But everybody around you can teach you.  A 19 year old cadet asked the question: How can I develop confidence to confront superior who I think is making a mistake? I turned it to class. Some had been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. We had a robust conversation about how to address problems with a boss. How to manage up by exerting influence versus control? You can ask questions and go through others.

SF: Exactly, others can answer if you engage in dialogue. So, what’s been your worst mistake?

TT: I have diagnosed my mistake patterns. When I have strategic life decision like who you’re going to marry. Then I think long and hard. My mistakes occur when they’re insidious voluntary errors, tactical mistakes. I rush to judgment without leaving my mind open. I can pigeon-hole ideas and people.  I can shut down the receiver and when I do that I am worse off.

SF: Maybe that’s why you are relentless in asking yourself the difficult questions, to counterbalance this tendency you believe you have.

TT: If I’m not careful, I’ll ignore, because I’m task oriented. It’s my fundamental flaw.

SF: But youcompensate for what you perceive to be a flaw.  What do you do, and what can others do too?

TT: Awareness. And put on the brakes. If I’m off, tell me that. My son says, “Dad, I hear you, but have you ever thought about it this way?” That’s the cue for me to hit the pause button.

SF: To keep the receiver open.

TT: You miss a lot of texture if you shut stuff out that which doesn’t fit with your mental model.

SF: So what’s the big idea in order to lead the life you want?

TT: I find it’s true in philanthropy in volunteering:  humanity (care about something broader than just you), humility (it’s not just about me), and courage (do right thing in the right way).  Success is defined as building a life, not a resume.

Tom Tierney stepped down as CEO at Bain to co-found The Bridgespan Group, the leader in consulting in the non-profit sector. To learn more follow @BridgespanGroup, @ThomasJ_Tierney


Join Work and Life next Tuesday at 7:00 PM ET on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

Why Play Matters — Andy Stefanovich

Work and Life is a 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 at 7:00 PM EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Andy Stefanovich, provocateur and leading thinker and doer in the field of creativity and innovation at work.  The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: In 1990 you founded a company called Play, which was such an innovative, original concept, to think of play at work, because we typically think of work and play as a dichotomy.  Why does being playful and creative matter in all parts of our lives – even at work?

Andy Stefanovich:  StefanovichWork should be more like play, not playful. Serious, strategic, provocative, thoughtful, innovative, creative, spirited. Those were the things I wanted to affirm. I wanted to bring this important philosophy to executives to unleash imagination, and change organizations.

Watching my father work for GM for 48 years, with no college, but a strong work ethic. He worked for a living and he was rewarded. But he wished the spirit of people were more alive.  He wished we could be more authentic without it being looked down upon on.  Mylife and career is taking that legacy and bringing it to life, asking questions.

How we can change the mood, ethos, culture?  It’s like the weather, creating a mood of innovation and truth. What mental preparedness can we build to face confusion with tolerance?  How long can you stay in a place of grey?  How do you build a mindset that is founded on consciousness and awareness?  What mechanisms do you have that are levers, tools, technology, and strategy to drive change?  How are you measuring what matters?

SF: How do you tap into the wellspring of energy and power from playing. Where do you start?

AS:  A good journal. Write about what empowers you.

SF: You write by hand?

AS: I imagine, I dream, I believe. Write the way a TED talk is constructed. Imagine walking on the stage, I believe deeply in _____.  Passion persuades. Let everyone know who you are. Be a one trick pony. It’s a profound way to capture the imagination of people. I believe it’s important now for these three or four reasons.

SF: So, you need to focus onhere’s what I believe” and “here’s why it’s important now.”

AS: And invite the world to participate. Have an open aperture.  Work should not be work, it should be play.

SF: So how to open that aperture?

AS: Figure out your strong belief, your strong view. Let those in your circle know. Create a consortium of believers

SF: Off broadway, on the road.

AS: Yes, test it with your close-in community. Condition the room, say, “this may be off the wall, but I believe that ____. “ People like intuition vs. intellectual.

SF: How is this playful?

AS: It meets the room where it needs to be. Now it’s too organized, too constructed, too perfect. Ceremonial, like a Greek Orthodox script. Ritual is half script and half chance. Give people more permission, more honesty, more truth.

SF: How do you find creativity, innovation, and change in work and life?

AS: From a curatorial standpoint. Editing the excellence of the world and putting it before others. The High Line in NYC is a good example. There are three words to guide all of it: slow, wild and quiet. Not manicured landscaping. Slow steps. What are the three words that will steward you?

SF: And mood, as you referred to earlier?

AS: It’s a way to access more of your creativity, play, innovation. Make people know that these are the three things that guide me. What are yours? Then use each other for implied expertise.

SF: What have you learned about how can a person live a more inspired life?

AS: A truthful existence. Not waking up and behaving parts. You taught me about family, community, being whole. Not whimsy, but creative center, comfortable, controlled, thoughtful, intentional. Awareness level unleashes. More truthful.  People want it. There’s too much inauthenticity.  People are starving for it.

Andy Stefanovich, author of best-selling Look at More: A Proven Approach to Innovation.  

Join Work and Life next Tuesday at 7:00 PM ET on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.




Unifying the Work/Life Field — Kathie Lingle

Work and Life is a 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 at 7:00 PM EST, Stew 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 Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Kathie Lingle, an architect of change and  a leader in the Work Life field who led WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP), was a member of the Conference Board’s Work-Life Leadership Council, for which she served as co-chair for several years, and who served as National Work-Life Director at KPMG.

Stew Friedman: How have things changed in the field of work/life?

Kathie Lingle: Kathie LingleWhen I started childcare was my field because the question was “who’s going to take care of all the kids of the women we’re hiring? We’re not in that biz.”  Now it’s morphed into something other than childcare – eldercare, the sandwich generation. We are now focused on new ways of doing work, workplace flexibility, not just childcare. Now it’s not just childcare and it’s not just about women. The power tool of the work/life field is flexibility, because the more flex-work options the business has the better they do financially.

SF: Better productivity?  Better retention?

KL: Yes, retention, productivity and engagement. Engagement came later though, initially it was called commitment. At the Alliance for Work Life Progress (AWLP) we called it a work/life portfolio of assets which includes health and wellness programs and policies, paid and unpaid time off, corporate culture.  If you invest in all these parts of the portfolio, you don’t just keep employees but it’s also excellent for bottom line.

SF: So, work/life policies provide a competitive advantage?

KL: Yes, companies are falling all over themselves to be named “employers of choice.” It’s not for fun and games, but to be attractive to prospective employees, to retain talent, to engage employees and ultimately to make money.

SF: You see this sentiment all over college campuses and employment boards.  People are talking about doing well by doing good.

KL: In the last five years universities are leading the charge. At our recent work/life forum, Stew, you were speaker, a university won our best in class; Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  They were working their entire portfolio.  They had lots of policies. They understood that work/life is holistic; it’s about connecting the dots between one thing and another.  Some examples of their policies: giving money to employees to help them buy a home; providing job security; providing health and financial packages.

SF: What has changed and next wave of innovation?

KL:  We started wtih childcare as women entered workforce and need for care for their kids. So smart employers who want to attract, retain, and engage employees now use eldercare/dependent care, flex-options, community involvement, as well as programs that help provide caregiving for the caregiver – the sandwiched generation.  They provide affinity groups and financial support for workers who are pressured from both ends – caring for children and for parents.

SF: It seems as though the scope of the field has expanded, so what about competence in area of Human Resources and Work/Life?

KL: AWLP (founded 1996) had promised Work/Life certification from 1996 — exams, standards, minimum threshold of competencies. We have created a certification with real certification, with letters and designation. We felt as though we were building the airplane while flying. But inside HR associations, HR is not always Work/Life’s best friend. Within an organization there’s siloing and different HR functions (compensation, benefits, diversity, work/life, employee relations) and they are all different. Compensation and benefits operate behind doors and they are still bigger. The different functions are siloed and not pulled together in most effective way to get job done.

SF: What’s the biggest obstacle to getting everyone to pull together toward a shared goal?

KL: Mindset. Set of beliefs that lead to knee jerk reactions and statements such as “that’s the way things are done here.”

SF: What can be done to shift a mindset?

KL: One of the biggest elephants in room is that we haven’t cracked this code of overwhelmed so health and wellness is a big category. Our nation spends so much on healthcare and we’re getting too little bang for the buck. We are killing ourselves at work. We need to shift from teaching people to play the piano to teaching people about the language of music. We need to go from implementing flex work arrangements  to greater autonomy. Flex arrangements are tool whereas maximizing autonomy is the goal. We need to get to the point where I get what I need and so does my company. Universities are doing great job with career flexibility, but corporations are not. Corporations are obsessed with get “Mary” in at 10 AM so she can get home at 4 PM; they’re obsessed with scheduling. People need autonomy. The question is: Do I have all I need to get my work done from the top and from my colleagues.

SF: What are the most important levers for producing change?

KL:  We need to get into mindset of the leaders. This stuff is not really foreign to them.  Leaders have lots of flexibility themselves. They think they’re athletes, so talk to them in a language they understand — driving the firm, hitting the top of your game, winning, leading.

Kathie Lingle led WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP) and has been a member of the Conference Board’s Work-Life Leadership Council, for which she served as co-chair for several years.  She directed AWLP’s Strategy Board for a dozen years and is a former member of the steering commitee of the Boston College Work-Life Roundtable. Prior to joining WorldatWork, she served as National Work-Life Director at KPMG LLP, where she was the primary architect of KPMG’s Work Environment Initiative, a multi-year culture change effort that continues to evolve.  To learn more,  follow her on Twitter: @WorldatWork @kathielingle


Join Work and Life next Tuesday, at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111.  Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.