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Professional Women: Opt-Out Or Take The Road Less Traveled? — Pamela Stone

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 Dr. Pamela Stone, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY and a visiting scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She is an expert on women in the workplace and has written widely on such topics as the gender wage gap and pay equity. She is also the author of Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home. Stew spoke with her about her studies on women in the labor force.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: In 2007 you wrote Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home and more recently, you, along with some of my colleagues at the Harvard Business School, have found that women are not actually opting out of work to take care of kids. They’re changing jobs. So what’s the story?

Pamela Stone: Pamela StoneThe whole “opting out” story has always been overblown. People thought that it is happening at a much greater scale than was actually taking place. When I was starting to study it, it wasn’t that I was interested in the subject because women were opting out in droves. It was really because those who were opting out were a key group of women—those who are extremely well-trained and groomed for leadership—who were leaking out of the pipeline to leadership. Opting Out was never about a huge trend. The trend was way overblown by the media.

SF: Why do you think that was?

PS: Most likely because it confirms a stereotype. Part of it is that when women take a traditional path—in other words, returning to motherhood, as opposed to trying to combine work and motherhood—that confirms traditional notions of womanhood. I think the media fixates on this group of women who came of age during the feminist revolution, and who supposedly are the standard bearers for its accomplishments, but who then seem to be turning their back on it.  It confirms that women really don’t want to have it all.  There’s a lot of interesting cultural commentary going on there. But the phenomenon is counterintuitive, in a way, and that’s what got me interested in studying this group of women. I, as a suburban, working mom, knew a lot of stay-at-home moms and found that they had these incredible backgrounds. I was surprised and intrigued as to what led them to take such a different path than they had initially set out on. I think I was less surprised than some might have been by the numbers we saw in the Harvard Business School survey, the 10%.

SF: Can you tell our listeners about that 10%?

PS: We looked at the women [Harvard Business School grads] and asked them if they had ever taken significant time out of the labor force. Some said yes, but in the cross sections it appeared that not that many women had. It was a relatively small percentage of women who were full-time out of the labor force taking care of home and family as their primary activity; that’s the 10% number.

SF: So that 10% refers to all study respondents across generations?

PS: Yes exactly, at the time of the survey.  You should also recognize that the 10% is a cross-sectional measure as opposed to a life-span measure.  When you ask women if they have ever taken time out of the labor force for a period of six months or longer, you do see a higher number. So among the Gen X’s [those born between the 1960s and 1980s], about a quarter of the women reported at some point taking six months or more out of the labor force. And when you look at the Baby Boomers, who are 50+, there was a higher percentage who reported having taken some time out of the labor force. You can better understand that 10% number by knowing that this is a group with fairly high labor force participation to begin with because they’re highly educated.  What we see happening instead is that women are not entirely dropping out of the labor force in droves, but rather they’re often times making accommodations in their jobs or switching jobs to deal with work and family.

SF: Did you notice any particular patterns or trends about how those adjustments are being made, and whether they’re different for people of different age groups?

PS: This is one of the questions that remain. The study that we did was a survey of largely Harvard MBAs. We meant it to be a diagnostic benchmark, a starting point. The second phase of the study is going to try to understand the gender gap that we discovered. We’d like to learn more about the sources of that gap and the micro-decision making that both women and men make. Right now, we don’t have as much of that as we’d like.

SF: You’ve been studying this topic for some time now, and you’ve seen some changes in how these issues are playing out in our society. What has been the most striking change in the couple of decades that you’ve been studying? What’s changed the most in your view?

PS: In terms of the causes of the gender and pay gaps, there has been much greater attention paid to the family nexus. I think the earlier studies of inequality were very much workplace focused, and they didn’t really understand the interlocking systems of work and family and how they both in themselves generate inequality. The recent focus on understanding the motherhood penalty is a good example of this.

SF: Define the motherhood penalty for our listeners.

PS: It’s the penalty that, other things being equal, is exacted in terms of pay and promotions when a woman is a mother as opposed to not being a mother. And then there’s a fatherhood bonus on the flip side of that. It’s a really interesting dynamic in which the traditional breadwinner model is rewarded; in the workplace, men are rewarded for fatherhood and women are penalized for motherhood. That remains to this day, and this is the kind of phenomenon that shows clearly that there is not a firewall between work and family. These decisions are carried out in the workplace with an eye towards people’s parental status at home.

To learn more about Pamela Stone and her work, visit here. Click here to learn more about her book, Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home.

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

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

Finding Bliss, Legal Models for Lawyers: Deborah Henry

Contributor: Shreya Zaveri

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 Deborah Epstein Henry, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bliss Lawyers and President of Flex-Time Lawyers and co-author of Finding Bliss: Innovative Legal Models for Happy Clients and Happy Lawyers.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: How do law firms differ from the typical work environment when it comes to integrating work and life?

Deborah Henry: Deborah HenryThe biggest differentiator is the billable hour. It means that people who are looking for more balance in their lives often can’t compete for advancement. Law firms gain revenue by increasing billable hour rates or amount of billable hours. Expectations for more billable hours get ratcheted up and so billable hour drivers are a point of distinction between law and other industries. At the same time, there is the advantage of billable hours: the firm generates the same revenue from wherever you bill, and so firms can capitalize on that flexibility. However, most firms are reluctant to take on that flexibility of location to maximize employee satisfaction. They’re mostly worried about losing control of their workforce. There’s a certain pressure that exists in the workplace environment where everyone is worried that the person next to them is generating more billable hours for the firm. When you eliminate that face-time culture, there’s a fear in law firm management that you’ll lose a key motivator for revenue generation.

SF: I know that you’ve been working on the issue of value-based billing. How does that affect the structure of law firm compensation and pricing?

DH: Since 2008, general counsels of companies have a lot more leverage and are putting pressure on law firms to demonstrate value other than by number of hours logged. It’s driven by the client and global competition. The idea that value could be measured in some other way that hours is increasingly a compelling argument in the legal profession. In Finding Bliss, we talk about the Value Measure, which has three components: the quality of the work, the efficiency, and the results achieved. With those three factors in mind, you can be deliberate in creating value for the client, and it’s taking law firms from the billable hour cycle to measuring value as their clients do. I would say about 30% of the revenue generated from firms is typically generated through alternate value measures. The predominant method, however, is still billable hours.

SF: You also talk about how the very architecture of work is a competitive advantage for some firms that are eliminating the traditional office layout.

DH: That’s right, it’s about being innovative with space. New models such as virtual practices with very low overheads are putting pressure on the traditional model which includes fancy offices and artwork on the walls. A traditional law firm has about a third of their overhead going to real estate.  So if you can eliminate a third of the costs of the traditional law firm, you can be generous in terms of paying your employees or you can pass along significant savings to your clients.

I co-authored Finding Bliss with the two other founders of Bliss Lawyers, and we are founded on two innovations. First, our lawyers work at fortune 500 companies, but our internal team works remotely, so we have a no bricks and mortar infrastructure and can compete on costs. Second, we operate on a secondment model – that is, on temporary assignments. We are able to lend out lawyers to clients for the duration of the engagement, capitalizing on ways to diminish costs.

SF: It sounds like Bliss Lawyers is a catalyst for project-based employment.

DH: There have been contract workers in the legal profession for years, but this brings in people who are very well credentialed and trained who are making a choice about the way they want to integrate the practice of law with the rest of their life. This model works well for the person who wants to pick their engagement and have that kind of flexibility.

SF: Is there an element of risk in an engagement model? You don’t know where your next client is coming from. There’s also the lack of long term commitment from existing clients.

DH: To cover some of that, we are able to compensate our lawyers very handsomely. The engagements are longer than traditional projects, around a year, and sometimes convert to permanent engagements if the client wishes to bring them on full-time. It’s a way for lawyers to add to their experience and credentials if they want to transition into companies.

But there’s also the changing demographic of the people who are raising their hands for work-life engagement. Historically, it’s been the working mom. Now, we’re seeing senior lawyers, especially men. These are people at the other end of the arc of the careers now speaking about work-life engagement.

SF: “Bliss” is a wonderful word. And, as the introduction to your book notes, “bliss” and “lawyers” typically don’t get used in the same sentence. How are you helping lawyers find bliss?

DH: It really strikes us that so many lawyers are unhappy. A happy lawyer is a productive and profitable one. We talk about seven themes in the book: innovation, value, predictability and trust, flexibility, diversity and inclusion, talent development, and relationship building. There is opportunity for change and innovation for each of those seven themes.

We’re really trying to anticipate the changing needs of the legal profession and our clients. Happiness is not a luxury, it increases performance, retention, satisfaction and loyalty.

You can follow Debbie on Twitter @debepsteinhenry or visit her websites, blisslawyers.com and flextimelawyers.com.

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

Shreya Zaveri Shreya Zaveriis a junior in the Wharton School studying Management and OPIM with an International Relations minor. She also serves as a vice president for the Work-Life Integration Project Student Advisory Board.

Bulletproof in Work and Life: Dave Asprey

Contributor: Arjan Singh

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 Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur who spent a couple of decades and $300,000 to hack his own biology. He’s lost 100 pounds without counting calories or excessive exercise, used techniques to upgrade his brain by more than 20 IQ points, and he has lowered his biological age by learning to sleep more efficiently in less time. This transformed him into a better entrepreneur, husband and father.  He’s the Founder and CEO of Bulletproof, a company focused on teaching people how to upgrade their performance in every aspect of their life.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: You were a very successful person when I first met you, over a decade ago, when you were a student here at Wharton.  You decided, though, that you wanted to make some dramatic changes in your life. What was the spark? Why and then how did you make significant changes in your own life and body?

Dave Asprey: Dave AspreyYou actually get some of the credit for that spark. I took your Total Leadership class. I was already working on upping my brain and I recognized that I was obese.  I had already lost a lot of weight before I met you. I lost half the weight that I wanted to lose.  It was interesting to understand that I needed to get my brain working right in order to get the spiritual and emotional things that we are capable of when we are performing really well. And what happened when I was in your Total Leadership class is that you encouraged a type of quantification, a measurement.  I was focusing on my weight, how much was I eating, my IQ, my reaction time, and what I could do for those variables. But I never looked at investment return on the time and energy that I put into things. And it was your framework that said “if you’re spending a lot of energy in a particular area and you’re not getting results, maybe you shouldn’t do that.” And that made me start looking at how can I make this easier instead of just how can I get this done.  It is that sense of ease and ability to not just do it with struggle and striving and just working really hard but to do it with a little bit of effortlessness and joy. That has become a big part of me becoming successful as a human being and bio-hacker.

SF: How did you create that sense of ease or joy in the process of taking care of yourself?

DA: We have this model that I wrote about in my recent book The Bulletproof Diet. The easiest way to explain it is to think about a Labrador Retriever, a big sloppy dog, and if you look at a three behavior set a dog has, those are behaviors that we have.

One, if something comes in front of our vision then we’re either attracted or scared by it and want to run away. This is a good survival behavior. It’s kept us from getting eaten by tigers and ensures we find interesting stuff. But it might distract us when we want to stay on task.

And then we have this other survival behavior which is eat anything so we don’t starve. And it keeps us from starving, but it doesn’t work if it is getting in our way. That Labrador will eat something even if it makes it sick or even if it gets obese. And these are instincts that fuel us, too.

And the final thing has to do with reproduction of species. The dog sees a leg and it wants to mate with that leg.  These three human behaviors can cause an enormous amount of stress and struggle. And the one that I found was most pernicious was food. Because if you’re eating stuff that makes you constantly just a little bit hungry – or even worse, “hangry,” the combination of hunger and anger.

SF: Hangry? What does that mean in terms of how it affects work and life?

DA: When you get hungry that “Labrador” in your body starts to get growly and then you treat people unkindly. To get past that, using willpower, comes at a cost.

Your willpower is a finite resource and you don’t want to waste willpower on being hungry all the time. You don’t want to waste willpower on doing things that are really hard for you, especially if they are things that are easy for someone else. So for me I made a resolution that I was going to spend my energy on things that I was really good at, or uniquely good at. And I would take the things that either did not bring me joy,  things that were more difficult than they should be, and I would find someone who enjoyed them or was just better at them than I was and I would work with them.

I don’t try to address my weaknesses. I try to fill them in with partners.

SF: Can you give an example of that?

DA: Even though I did go to Wharton, finance to me is like Valium; it knocks me out. I don’t like accounting and I don’t like finance. So I hired a kick-ass Chief Financial Officer instead of pouring extra effort into that when I would’ve gotten sub-par results anyway. And it’s the same reasoning you teach in Total Leadership. If you’re putting effort into this and you’re getting very little return, then you need to change your technique put in less effort. It’s a relatively simple example; hire a good CFO.  But if I was weak at marketing and strong at finance, I would hire a Chief Marketing Officer.

SF: It’s really about knowing what your strengths are – what you’re good at and what you enjoy – and knowing where you should invest.

DA: Exactly. It is easy to do the things you’re good at, and like, and it’s fun.

SF: How did this apply to your diet? And how did that affect your career?

DA: I spent seven weeks of my life with electrodes glued to my head doing advanced neurofeedback in a program called 40 Years of Zen. It teaches you byusing a lie detector when your body is perceiving something that you believe or don’t believe. It’s an advanced form of meditation.

SF: Your focus on getting data that helps you learn is inspiring.

DA: During this time, it gave me a very keen awareness of the inner dialogue that we all have. It’s different for each of us, but we all have this inner voice in our heads. What I learned was that every time someone put a bagel, a cookie, or a piece of candy in front of me, there was an immediate response – almost like a knee jerk reaction – that said “Eat that.” And I would tell myself “No, don’t eat that.” It’s the same as when you train a dog. You tell the dog “Don’t eat that” and the dog says “No.”

If you eat in such a way that induces food cravings, then you will feel that those cravings are hunger.  But every time there is food, you will use your willpower that should be going into making yourself an awesome life, making yourself good at your work, or good at what ever that matters to you and you’ll apply it to telling yourself not too eat that hamburger or whatever it is. Since willpower is a finite resource, there is willpower fatigue, there is decision making fatigue – like muscle fatigue.

Why would I waste muscle on basically telling myself no to something?

The breakthrough was figuring out that there are things you can do by either avoiding causes of food cravings or by fueling the body properly so when someone sets that bagel or cookie in front of you, it doesn’t register and your body doesn’t tell you “Eat that” and you don’t have to tell it “No” because you are actually satisfied by your diet.

SF: What are the keys to a high performance lifestyle?

DA: Number one: meditate. There are so many ways to meditate. You can just do deep breaths, you can take a class on meditation, or you can do the neurofeedback way that I have done. Find a way to meditate and use technology to do it faster.

Number two: don’t sleep too much. More sleep is not better or worse. It’s just more sleep. People who live the longest sleep six and a half hours a night. That doesn’t mean you should sleep less. It means that people that are healthy need less sleep and that’s why they are living longer. Get healthier, you will need less sleep and you will free up extra time every day.

Number three: don’t over-exercise. People who listen to your show, people who are high performers are naturally driven to do things that are supposed to make them stronger, better, and faster. When I weighed 300 pounds, I exercised 90 minutes a day, six days a week for almost two years and I didn’t lose the weight. The reason was that over-exercise is just as bad as under-exercise. You can get four or five hours a week of productive time back by exercising more intelligently, by doing it intensely for short periods once or twice a week instead of doing it for long periods every day.

SF: Where would you advise listeners to start?

DA: There are two easy places. The first one is the Bulletproof Diet Book explains all of these bio-hacks, including this psychology of willpower and food and how that willpower bleeds over into your business performance and your life performance. That book is a condensed version of the quarter million words or so that I have written on the Bulletproof Blog.

That said, on the Bulletproof Blog homepage, there’s a get started link that gives you basic things to do. The whole point of Bulletproof is not to be perfect, not to do everything. It’s about choice.  If we can help you understand on a roadmap that choice A leads you to slightly better performance than does choice B, then just make choice A. And the difference in your overall performance can be profound.

SF: What’s in store and on the horizon?

DA: The Bulletproof Coffee Shop in Santa Monica, California is slated to open in May. We are hiring for that.  The rest of the Bulletproof team is virtual and we are hiring for that, as well. It is a good sized company and we have people all over the west coast who work from home, which is a new model there. In May, a documentary called Moldy will be released. This is about a very common source of what I call Kryptonite – things that make us weak that we don’t know about in our environment. And we are going to open more coffee shops and continue producing content, especially about things affecting 100 million people that they don’t know about.

To learn more about Dave Asprey, please check out Bulletproof and follow him on Twitter @bulletproofexec

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

ArjanArjan Singh (2014_02_10 08_00_04 UTC) Singh is an undergraduate junior at the Wharton School.

How to Invest in Your Employees’ Health — Dan Calista, CEO Vynamic

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 Dan Calista, founder and CEO of Vynamic, named #1 boutique consulting firm, as well as Best Small Firm and Best Places to Work. Vynamic is the Philadelphia-area’s largest management-consulting firm focused exclusively on the healthcare industry. Mr. Calista discussed how CEOs can help create a sustainable and hospitable working environment for employees through company values and vision.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: A lot of CEOs say a company is only as good as its people. It’s easy to espouse that value but to enact it is another matter. What are some of the key practices that you do to make that come alive?

Dan Calista: dan calistaLet’s get into some examples. One that’s been fun at Vynamic is what we call “Zmail”. The Z stands for catching some z’s – catch some sleep. It’s an email HR policy at Vynamic where we ask that everyone on the team does not spend any time on email during Zmail hours — 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Some people think that’s shocking – like how late 10 PM is and other people think what’s the big deal, shouldn’t we be sleeping then anyway? And the other big part of this policy is no emails over the weekend. Now if something urgent does comes up, we’ll take care of it by special exception and prior arrangement.

SF: So do people put a delay on so you get hundreds of emails flooding in at 6 a.m. Monday?

DC: It’s amazing. When you really put that filter on your work, you realize what is truly urgent, truly important and what isn’t.

SF: You become more conscious of your choices.

DC: Yes. So the evening’s winding down and you may want to get one or two emails out if something is important, but you start mentally thinking Ok, now I’m shifting my day. And on the weekends, it’s the same idea. This is not a work curfew. I believe in a flexible work arrangement that lets people manage their own schedules. You can get work done when you want to including the 10 PM to 6 AM time, but unless it’s essential and urgent to involve others our norm is that we don’t send emails during that time. Now, if you send something at 9:59 PM, that’s called a Z-bomb because now I cannot write back to you and I’m thinking about your note!

SF: So maybe you should be a little bit more relaxed about that boundary. Is it a slippery slope once you open it up?

DC: Eight hours of sleep is all I’m asking for. Zmail is a company policy and I have to make sure I’m doing it, but it’s also managed by the team.  So we don’t unplug servers, but our team enforces the norm. Someone might say, “Hey, I might have to email you this document. I might not get it done in time, but I know you need it in the morning. Do I have your permission to send it later?”

SF: So you have to negotiate that?

DC: Yes, you just have to ask.  Set boundaries. And reading a lot of your work, I found that to be part of the conversation as well.

SF: Having conversations about mutual expectations and respecting boundaries are essential ingredients to successful work/life integration and smooth team functioning. So what else are you doing that helps your employees to be whole people and bring their very best selves to your business?

DC: Well, the idea that we are whole people. We’re committed to the idea of being healthy in mind, body, and balance. So for example, one of the early investments that Vynamic made was to have someone on staff dedicated to training and continuous learning. Part of life is continuous learning especially in management consulting. A more recent example is that we have someone committed to what we call health and care, which is basically kind of in the wellbeing space. Given that we’re in the healthcare industry, our health and care staff member is there to help with the health and care of our team – whether that’s walking meetings, treadmill desks, healthy snacks, and more. One of our team members expressed interest in this area. She had been a management consultant who took the initiative to study and get certified as a coach and really learn the area. And then the opportunity came up, and we created a role for her. Now that’s her full time job.

SF: So how do you justify that investment in terms of its return?

DC: That’s the power of the values. They drive our decisions at Vynamic.

SF: So what I’m looking at here is a beautiful sheet of paper in different colors that describes the Vynamic values: living, leading, learning, growing, and thriving with the Vynamic vision of being the healthiest company in the world. What a simple, powerful idea. How does that guide your decision making every day?

DC: It’s about making decisions based on those values. Growing for our people and not at the expense of our people. Let’s talk about the vision statement – to be the healthiest company in the world. So how can this little Vynamic company grow to be the healthiest company in the world and what does that look like? It’s about internal conversations like What would the healthiest company in the world do? Yes, we would have somebody that would be full-time dedicated to working on health and wellness. We would have programs to develop our female management-consultants because this is an industry that doesn’t have enough females. At Vynamic, we have 51 females as management-consultants. 54% of the entire company are females. These are things that get layered on to the business as we grow. Companies have to make decisions based on a scarcity of resources. Because we know our values and what we stand for, our values drive our decision-making.

To learn more about Dan Calista and Vynamic, visit www.vynamic.com.

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

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

 

Supporting Working Families — Vicki Shabo

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 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 Vicki Shabo, the Vice President at the National Partnership for Women & Families. As a lawyer and an advocate, Shabo focuses on policy issues such as paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, expansion and enforcement of protective legislation, workplace flexibility, fair pay, and pregnancy discrimination and serves as the Partnership’s contact for researchers, businesses and advocates. Friedman spoke with her about recent changes in nationwide social policy that have the potential to make the workplace fairer and friendlier for American families.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is the nation’s only federal law designed to help working people meet the demands of work and family, just celebrated its 22nd anniversary last week. What have we learned over the last couple of decades of FMLA implementation, and how has it helped address the real needs of working families?

Vicki Shabo: vicki-shaboThe FMLA was put into effect by President Clinton in 1993, and we’ve just done a new calculation estimating that the FMLA has been used over 200 million times during those last 22 years. Every use represents a mother or a father who was able to take care of a child, a son or daughter who was able to sit by the bedside of a dying or ill parent, spouses taking care of each other, or people taking care of their own serious health conditions and then being able to go back to work—sustaining themselves financially, being able to continue in the labor market, and supporting their families.

The FMLA has been a tremendously successful law. The most important thing we know (besides the history of utility of the FMLA) about the FMLA’s impact on our culture is that when the FMLA was signed only 22% percent of workers had access to some kind of unpaid leave and now it’s close to 90%.

Nevertheless, the FMLA has significant gaps. About 40% of workers are left out of the legislation because they work for smaller businesses or haven’t been at their current job long enough to qualify. We also know that the number one reason that people can’t take unpaid leave under the FMLA is simply the fact that it is unpaid—there’s no requirement that they earn any wages or get any income replacement while they’re on leave. That fact leaves way too many people out because they can’t afford to lose that income; it’s the number one reason why somebody who needs the protection of the FMLA doesn’t take it.

SF: Last Friday, our city council in Philadelphia voted 14-2 to approve an ordinance that guarantees workers in this city the right to earn paid sick time. How is this recent change in Philadelphia an example of how things are changing more broadly?

VS: Right now, there are 20 places that have paid sick day laws—3 states (California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts) and 17 cities. That this legislation has slowly become more mainstream is a story of the fear and concern frequently espoused by corporate interests and trade organizations now being turned on its head by the evidence.

It’s also a story about very smart organizing that has brought together progressive businesses and health advocates, women’s and children’s groups, civil rights organizations, and others who are standing together and saying that it is absolutely crazy that someone could be fired in this country because they have the flu or they need to go pick their child up from the ER after a fall off the jungle gym. That’s just not right.

It’s also a story of leadership. We just saw an example of the President in the State of the Union address ask Congress to send him a bill guaranteeing workers the right to earn paid sick days at work. This is something that is incredibly popular with people, whether they are Democrats or Republicans—everybody gets sick, and everybody understands that you shouldn’t lose a day of pay or risk your job when that happens.

SF: What is the most important thing our listening audience should know about family medical leave and paid sick leave?

VS: There is a role that everyone around the country can play if you care about this issue. This is the time to make sure that that the journalists and social media folks in your area know that these are issues that matter to you. If you’ve have candidates coming through your area, ask them where they stand. Your local elected officials (and even your federal elected officials) need to know that you want a basic paid sick days law in this country and that you want family and medical leave protection that offers some pay to people when they need to take leave to care for a new baby or a sick loved one or when they themselves fall sick. These issues are gaining so much momentum, and we’re seeing news article after news article writing that this topic is “the next big thing,” but it’s up to the people to bring these changes to fruition.

If you have something to say or a personal story to share, write a Letter to the Editor, write an Op-Ed, or write to your legislators. Let them know that it is crazy that in this country we do not have the most basic paid sick day standards—that new moms and new dads and people who have family and medical needs can’t both support their families and care for their families. It’s time for that to change.

To learn more about the National Partnership for Women & Families, visit their website at www.NationalPartnership.org. You can also follow on Twitter for updates @NPWF  @VShabo.

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

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

Finding Career Purpose in Tragedy’s Aftermath — Chris Marvin

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 Chris Marvin, WG’11, Managing Director of Got Your 6.  He previously served as a US Army officer and Blackhawk helicopter pilot and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal.  After returning from combat, he has worked as an advocate for other veterans, notably as the Director of the Fellowship Program of The Mission Continues. Marvin earned an MBA from Wharton, where he was a student in Friedman’s Total Leadership course.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: As a wounded veteran, what was your experience like when you came home?

Chris Marvin: ChrisMarvinI was wounded in a helicopter crash near the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2004.  I was a platoon leader for an army aviation unit.  I was 25 years old, I had 25 soldiers and officers under my command, I was in charge of $25 million of equipment, and to top it all of, I was also in the 25th infantry division.

I broke both of my arms and my foot, damaged my face, knees, hips and shoulders.  When I came home, I was really struck by a few different things.  First, there are a lot of people willing to help.  I was very lucky that I had family that was very supportive, and the medical system was helpful to me during my four-year recovery.  About a year after my crash, I was going to my mailbox, and I pulled out an envelope that was addressed to me from a nonprofit I had never heard of.  Inside was a $500 check.  At the time I didn’t need the money.  These people didn’t know me and didn’t know whether I needed it or not, but they sent it anyway because they had my address and they knew I was wounded.

SF: They were trying to be helpful.

CM:  Yes, but to me, it felt like they assumed I was in need of charity or pity, and I didn’t feel that I needed that. I had a lot to live for and a lot to get back to and wanted to be challenged to continue my service and leadership.  So, I gave the $500 to a local food bank because I knew that the community—wounded veterans or not—needed that money more than I did, and it set me on a path.  I found that little spark that resided in me to help people. And I used that to help others understand that veterans, wounded veterans especially, are not always in need of charity.  A lot of times we just want to be challenged to continue our service here at home and to be part of something greater than ourselves.  I spent a lot of time working with other veterans and on the national network to help veterans re-instill that sense of purpose in their lives.

SF: Why was it important for you personally to be able to help other wounded veterans?

CM: We have a group of people who have chosen to serve in the military over the past decade or so.  If you think about it, these are a few million people that have raised their hands and volunteered to fight the longest war in the history of America. They’re predisposed to service in some way and they’re taught leadership skills funded by our taxpayer dollars, so they’re tax-subsidized leaders, if you will.   And when we come back and are out of our uniform, we don’t stop feeling predisposed for service and trained to be leaders.  We want to continue to do that.  The problem is that oftentimes Americans don’t expect us to do that.  They thank us for our service and expect that we’re done.  But for me, I was 25 years old, and I had a lot ahead of me.  I wasn’t done with anything; I had barely started anything.  For me, it was important to rediscover a sense of purpose, and I did it in a few different ways.  A couple of years after I received that check I discovered a nonprofit that was challenging wounded veterans to do service in their communities.  That nonprofit was called The Mission Continues, and I got in on the ground floor and led their fellowship program for a few years before I came to Wharton.

SF: Tell us a little more about your role in leading the fellowship program at The Mission Continues, which was co-founded by Eric Greitens, who was one of the subjects of my recent book, Leading the Life You WantHe was one of the six people I profiled, and you’re the one who introduced me to him.

CM: He’s a great leader and a great mentor.  I was in recovery and living at home in Hawaii.  They were just getting started and didn’t have a lot of funds.  We were giving out fellowships for wounded veterans to engage in volunteer service in their own communities.  We were able to do this for a few dozen people while I was there.  Since I left, they’ve really blossomed financially, and they’ve given out thousands of these fellowships.  They’re the leader in what we now call the veterans empowerment movement, which refers to these groups of nonprofits that aren’t treating veterans as charity cases but are instead asking them to step up and become leaders in their civilian communities.

SF: What led you to Wharton?

CM: I was lucky that because I was wounded, I was then exposed to people from the military community who are operating at a very high level like Eric Greitens or others who had served in the military and were making the transition to bigger and brighter things.  I thought that maybe business school would be a good for me.  I look back on these things, and they all stem from one incident, one event in my life, which was being wounded in combat.  It took me a long time to realize it, but that helicopter crash was a pivotal event and I came to understand the idea that something so tragic could also be something so beneficial.

SF: In Leading the Life You Want, I describe how great leaders find creative ways to use their experience, sometimes traumatic, to benefit others.  What did it take for you to convert that terrible experience into a transformative event that propelled you to a better life in some way?

CM: I don’t think there was a moment when I decided that I was going to change.  I think that was always in my mind.  Whether it was conscious or not, it was hard for me to admit it out loud.  There was one fatality in that helicopter crash, and you don’t ever want to say that that was the best thing that ever happened to me because that day wasn’t a good day.  It wasn’t about that day or about where the helicopter ended up or about the individuals that were injured and the one that died.  It was about every day beyond that day.  I think that it was always innate in me—even as I lay in that hospital bed—either get busy living or get busy dying.  You either give up or you don’t, and I never had any intention to give up even when I was still trapped in that helicopter before they extracted me from that aircraft.  While we often say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I don’t believe that’s how society tends to look at returning wounded veterans.  They often assume that we’re in a really bad place, but maybe for most of us who have been wounded—depending on our injuries—it could be and probably should be one of the better things or best things that’s happened to us, at least from the perspective of a formative experience that’s full of growth.

SF: What exactly did you have to do to be able to convert that experience into something of value in your future?

CM: I think one of the major lessons is the idea that in one moment everything I had to wake up for in the morning was gone.  Then the only thing I had to wake up for was my physical therapy.  So I focused on that for a while until that was no longer something that I needed to focus on all day every day.  And then you try to focus on something else.  The discovery is finding that sense of purpose, and I had a lot of things fill in the blanks before I found The Mission Continues.  I used to be the guy who played really conventional sports in high school—golf, basketball, baseball, and track—and I ran track in college.  But after my injuries, I couldn’t do almost any of those.  The one thing that I can’t do very well now is run and jump, which is very ironic for a college triple jumper.  But I started surfing and doing yoga, which are low impact.  I also learned Hawaiian; it was part of my experience of being there and being in that culture.  I took up these things to fill that time gap and that purpose gap. There were many things that I found to fill my time, of which the Mission Continues was not the least of them, in working with other veterans to find their purpose.

SF: So tell us about how Got Your 6 works.  What do you do, and how does it help?

CM: Got Your 6 is the endeavor to change the narrative in America about the veteran.  So you heard me tell the story about the $500 check and how I didn’t want to be treated with pity or with charity.  We think that those narratives are too prevalent in our culture.   We’ve done some great surveys asking Americans what sort of cultural perceptions of veterans are typical, and it’s two things: broken heroes.  It takes a measure of cognitive dissonance to believe that someone is both broken and heroic at the same time.  For us, those things are fine—we’re not telling anyone that they’re doing anything wrong—but at Got Your 6 we try to normalize the portrayal of veterans.  We specifically focus on the entertainment industry.

We have relationships with the major studios, networks, and agencies in Hollywood where we’re able to work with their content creators.  We help inform them about the breadth of veteran experience that they could be incorporating into their shows and films.  We show them that they don’t have to very heavy-handed about it.  It doesn’t have to be a veteran show about a veteran character with a veteran storyline.  The best example is Modern Family.  Ed O’Neill’s character is a small business owner, a patriarch, and a loveable guy who mentions every once in a while that he was in the Navy.  So he’s a normalized veteran.  He’s a lot of things, and he happens to be a veteran.

SF: That cues the watching audience that there’s a normal guy who’s doing normal things who is also a veteran.  How does that help returning veterans?

CM: I think what our society has done over the past decade or so is to exceptionalize veterans, whether it’s positively or negatively.  Our society has a notion that veterans are different and separate from civilians, and when you exceptionalize, by nature, you’re segregating—you’re pushing them outside of societal norms.  Our society has the conception that how a veteran will react to societal norms is different from how a civilian would, but it’s just not true.  One of the biggest things we joke about is how veterans are people too.  They’re mothers and fathers and husbands and wives, and they’re living the rest of their lives—usually the majority of their lives—after their military service.

SF: But they have had a unique experience, right?  So in some ways, that does make them exceptional.

CM: Not everyone’s had helicopter crashes.  In fact, less than half of the people who served in the military since 9/11 even went to combat.  That’s important, but all of us did maybe two things that were very similar: we all wore a uniform at some point, and we all received tax-subsidized leadership training.  So you as taxpayers have invested in this cohort of people by given us this training.  There’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask for a bit of a return on that investment. That is what we’re trying to promote and what the data support as well.  A lot of the problems that we hear anecdotally about veterans aren’t supported by the general cohort’s data.  Take, for example, unemployment.  Veterans have been more employed than civilians for around 102 of the last 105 months.  When people try to narrow it down and say that that young veterans are unemployed at a higher rate than all other people, perhaps they are, but that’s usually because they’re young or they’re job switchers or they’re taking some time off.  Usually it’s not because they’re veterans.

SF: There are a couple things that are in the news that I want to make sure that I get your take on.  American Sniper had a huge box office this past weekendYou have seen it; in fact, I understand that you prescreened it.  What’s your take?

CM: I was lucky to prescreen it and attend the premiere in New York, which was fantastic.  We at Got Your 6 think that for the most part American Sniper got it right for veterans.  That means a couple of things.  Veterans are really nitpicky about the technical details. Nobody in Hollywood is going to get it perfect, but as far as films go, this one got a lot of the technical details right.  To the degree that it is showing the American public what it might be like to be in Iraq or Afghanistan, I think it did a great job of that.

I think that what is really revealing for American Sniper was that when Chris Kyle, the character that Bradley Cooper plays, runs into a little bit of difficulty, he’s able to solve the difficulty by helping other people.  I think that’s a storyline that’s not always going to be worthy of the big screen but that we see over and over again in the veteran community.  Veterans who might be struggling and looking for that sense of purpose can often find it if they start helping other people.  That’s the language that you speak as a veteran and as a military member.  That’s why you do this in the first place.

SF: Part of the struggle is that his commitment is so overwhelming that it creates real tension in his marriage.  What did you think about that portrayal of work-family conflict?

CM: It’s a really tough nut to crack when you talk about some of the difficulties that families deal with when they’re separated. The military causes these separations and, in the last decade, on a more frequent basis for many.  About 4.3 million people have been in the military, and about 2.5 went to Iraq and Afghanistan.  That’s a large group of people who fought the longest war in the history of America.  It was an all-volunteer force, so this isn’t something that’s forced upon them and their families, but it doesn’t make it any easier to have mom or dad gone for six, nine, or even twelve months.  I think American Sniper deals with that well and deals with some of the reconciliation at the end, and that’s really important as well.

SF: To see their struggle and how they had to work through that tension was very powerful.  It seemed realistic to me, though perhaps a little soft around the edges.  We didn’t really get into the guts of the difficulties, but you saw the tension and the psychological disengagement that he continued to suffer.  He was so focused on the war even when he was back at home, so much so that he couldn’t be a part of his family’s life and that was a real struggle for him and for his wife.

CM: American Sniper did a really good job to show his desire to be back with his unit when he was at home and his desire to be with his family when he was with his unit overseas. This guy was at the top of his profession—he was one of the greatest American snipers. He’s really great at that, but he also wants to be a really great dad and husband too.  You can’t do both of those things at the exact same time.  They are in a way mutually exclusive.

SF: But he finds a way, over the course of his life, to create a kind of harmony.

CM: I think over the course of his life, he does, but not within the deployments.  Clint Eastwood and the team did a great job of showing the back and forth.

SF: You were at the White House today.  Can you tell us what’s on the horizon for Got Your 6 and what work you’re doing with the federal government?

CM: The big thing we’re able to do, because we work with nonprofits and the entertainment industry at the same time, is that we can bring the subject matter experts—the people who are working with veterans at nonprofits—to the content creators in Hollywood to help create some more true, real-life scenarios.  I hope in the future American Sniper and other films like Lone Survivor that have done it really well won’t be the exception.  They’ll be the norm.  And I hope we’ll have a part in doing this as well.

SF: So we’ll be hearing more from you.  What’s the key message that you want our listeners to take away from what Got Your 6 is all about?

CM: We want people to believe that veterans make America stronger and that veterans make America stronger when they come back to your community, your church, your school, your neighborhood, and your workplace.  The training that they’ve gotten, the leadership experience they’ve received, and some of the struggles that they’ve endured have made them stronger.  Instead of broken, we like to say battle-tested.  And I’ll leave one call to action for your audience.  The next time you’re with a veteran, and you want to say thank you for your service, please go ahead and do it, but promise to ask a second question or make a second comment as well.  Dive deeper into the conversation.  Don’t walk away after thanking them because I’ll just speak for all veterans and say that’s the part that we actually don’t like.  We want the second question.  We want you to ask something else and show us that you care a little bit about what we’ve done beyond the “Thank you for your service.”

To learn more about Chris Marvin and Got Your Six, please visit www.gotyour6.org, or follow on Twitter @GotYour6 or @ChrisMMarvin.

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.

What’s Your Work Style? — Carson Tate

Contributor: Arjan Singh

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 Carson Tate, a nationally recognized expert in workplace productivity and founder of Working Simply, a management consultancy focused on bringing productivity with passion back to the workplace. She’s the author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: What did you see in the world of human resources that inspired Working Simply?

Carson Tate: Carson TateFolks were working really long hours and would not take time off from work on the weekends. When looking at senior leaders in an organization, they seemed dead. It was as if their souls had left their bodies. Looking back at that, it was a sign of extreme burnout, fatigue, and overwork. As I sat there with my first position out of college — wanting to be successful and climb the corporate ladder — I looked at the senior leaders and realized ‘I don’t want that.’ There had to be a better way to serve, add value, and contribute to an organization without burning myself and my team out.  So how could I start to simplify and help folks be more productive without the expense of self?

SF: And you thought that the general idea was a way to help people feel more alive?

CT: Absolutely.

SF: How did you do that?

CT: I didn’t have the courage to leave corporate America and start my own business until many years later. It wasn’t until a colleague that I had been coaching on the side used a system that I had developed, shared it with her organization and had tremendous success with it, that I told myself that I had to take the leap of faith and go out and help as many people as I could.

SF: So how did this lead you to grow to scale and bring the idea of working simply to other people?

CT: I started working with more folks individually. I started doing corporate training events and writing blogs and articles.  I eventually researched the way we think and how that informs the way we structure our workflow.

SF: What is it that you help people change that allows them to work simply and be more productive and at the same time more passionate?

CT: The first step is to understand the way you think and process information, which is called your cognitive style. Your cognitive style informs the way you communicate, the way you structure your environment, the way you organize your calendar, and it even informs other choices you make such as the clothing you wear. So, the first step is to align your thinking to the productivity tools that you use.

SF: Could you give us an example?

CT: There are four different thinking styles. One of the most common styles is called prioritizer.  The prioritizer is very analytical, factual, and linear.  Prioritizers tend to be left-brain thinkers. When a prioritizer thinks about structuring workflow, it is more about the highest value task. They often time how long it will take them to do their work so they can get additional efficiencies.  They tend to be early adopters of technology so the latest app is a tool that might work really well for them. When they know the way they think, it allows them to filter all the methodologies, systems, and tools that exist and hone in on those that are going to add the greatest value for them and that are also going to be easiest for them to implement and stick with.

SF: That seems like a really simple idea – to know what you’re style preferences are and then choose the tools that fit best with the way you operate. What are the other three styles?

CT: Other than the prioritizer, there is the planner, who is very organized and sequential. They are natural project planners and are always looking for structure and process. They often manage their to-do list very well. Then there is the arranger — their thinking is more intuitive and they are more kinesthetic.  They do their best work with and through people.  The tools that they use really matter to them from a productivity perspective.  They want a certain type of pen, a certain type of folder.  And then the fourth style is the visualizer.  Their thinking is characterized by very big picture – they are very innovative, they are the risk-takers, they synthesize ideas very well and they excel at brainstorming.  In terms of productivity tools, a mind map would be very useful for them.  A mind map is a great way to brainstorm on paper and connect any ideas. One draws a circle, puts a central idea in it, and radiating out from that central idea are any thoughts and ideas that one might have. It helps connects different ideas.

SF: I can imagine if you are a planner and you are using a mind map, you’ll run into trouble.

CT: Exactly. Some of the tensions that exist on teams are nothing more than our thinking styles clashing. The planner wants to create structure and process and the visualizer does not want the structure because he or she feels restricted, so that creates inherent tension.

SF: After one figures out his or her cognitive style, then what?

CT: Once you know your style, you select the tools that are best for you. If I am a prioritizer or linear thinker, I should choose more linear tools.  For instance, the task function in Outlook would work great for me. If I am more right-brained, I might use a white-board or colored post-it notes. But I am not going to try and fit into a tool or methodology that counters the way I think.

SF: Is there something that comes next in the process?

CT: What’s next is clarifying the Why. What is the intrinsic motivation? Why do you want to tame your inbox, for example? Why do you want to have more time? What is driving this desire to simplify? If I cannot help my clients tap into that deeper desire, then sustaining the change will be very difficult. We have to be anchored.

SF: What’s the most important thing you want our audience to take away?

CT: It is up to you to customize your productivity and push back against this one-size-fits-all mentality that is so pervasive in our culture. I want the listeners and readers to learn to own the way they think and to understand their natural strengths and preferences and then learn how to align tools to those preferences. Finally, it is about understanding what is driving you and answering the question Why does this matter?

SF: What holds people back?

CT: They haven’t connected and owned the question Why? They are dealing with extrinsic motivation and what other people expect of them.

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 Carson and her work, visit here.

About the Author

Arjan Singh Arjan Singh (2014_02_10 08_00_04 UTC)is an undergraduate junior at the Wharton School.

Projects, Not Jobs: Jody Miller, Business Talent Group

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 Jody Miller, the Co-Founder and CEO of the Business Talent Group, which teams up the world’s best independent professionals to provide consulting and project-based support to companies. Jody previously served in senior roles in business, government, media and law, and was deputy to David Gergen under President Bill Clinton and White House fellow under George H. W. Bush as well as mover and shaker at Time-Life, Lehman Brothers, and Americast. Before founding BTG, Ms. Miller was a venture partner with Maveron, the Seattle-based venture capital firm, from 2000 to 2007. Stew spoke with Jody about project-based work and other disruptions in she made to the otherwise standard career path.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: After going into venture capital, how did you get to where you are today?

Jody Miller: 625_Jody MillerI enjoyed venture capital but it’s still very different to be an investor than to be someone who’s really driving a business. I missed that.  And, at the same time, I was being sought out to do consulting projects because I knew a lot about interactive television from my experience at Americast. I started building teams, finding other independent professionals—many of whom worked at major consulting firms—and started helping clients who were coming to me solve their problems with these independent professionals. Before I knew it, I was one of the largest outside contractors to the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, doing a series of five projects all with different teams constructed of independent professionals.  What they were saying to me was Boy, this is really interesting and unique. No one else is really doing this.

SF: What was interesting and unique to them?

JM: One was that no one else was offering them this blend of former consultants with former executives. Number two was that it was actually producing a better result for them than just going to a classic consulting model.

SF: You mean it was less expensive?

JM: No, that was the third. But the actual result was better because what they ended up having were people who had deep knowledge about whatever it was that they were doing. So for example, one of the first projects we did was on education, helping them with an online education company they’d invested in. We brought in someone that had actually led an online education company and paired them with a former consultant and that combination produced a really magical result for the client.

SF: So you’re able to access talent that’s very specifically relevant for the project.

JM: Exactly.

SF: And most of the people that you connected to project work are not in the work of sales and creating the business, but rather they do the implementation. Is that right?

JM: Our projects can be very significant and involved, but a lot of the folks in this market want to think about the project itself. They want to think about the problems. They don’t want to just be responsible for overseeing, which is what happens in a lot of consulting firms where you rise to the top and your job becomes selling business rather than rolling up your sleeves and actually doing the work.

SF: What kinds of effects are you seeing in the talent-side of the equation in terms of people’s lives and how people are changed by this form of employment?

JM: It’s really interesting. We survey our talent pretty frequently, and they always say the same thing about why they’re doing this. Surprisingly, it’s not flexibility—that isn’t even in the top two. Most importantly, they want to choose what they work on and who they work for. They don’t want to be forced to work with people they don’t like.

SF: Well that’s a kind of flexibility; it’s just not about time.

JM: That’s true, but it’s fascinating. Psychologically, it’s also really interesting. Let’s just say there’s a great project available but with somebody who’s really not someone’s cup of tea. It’s a different mindset if you know its only going to be for this project and then you’re out of there.

SF: You think, I can put up with this jerk for another two weeks because this is a really cool project, and I’m excited about it.

JM: Exactly. I’ll put up with this guy or this woman for a bit, and then I’m out of here. That’s very different than if you’re in a permanent situation where you’re thinking I just can’t do this anymore. It frees you up in a way that I think is very liberating for people. Obviously, it’s also nice to be able to decide when you take on projects. I have a hypothesis that when this model really does become ubiquitous, the rate for summer work will be significantly higher than the rate for work during the school year. A lot of people want more time in the summer, and I think the market doesn’t adjust for that today, but it will someday.

SF: Interesting! So what other tips can you give to people who want to be successful in this new labor market? What do you think are the keys? You mentioned having the stomach for some uncertainty and being able to present yourself in terms of the work that’s relevant to the task at hand. What else is there?

JM: Staying current. You’ve got to have a sense of where the world is going and how you fit into it. If you need to supplement your existing skills, you need to know what those things you need are and how to get them. It requires a constant ability to understand where your skills are and where the market’s needs are, and then you get the skills you need to supply what’s most in demand.

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 Jody Miller and her company, visit her web site www.businesstalentgroup.com or follow her on twitter @jodygmiller

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.

Out for Business – Rena Fried and Vivian Chung

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 current Wharton MBA students Rena Fried and Vivian Chung, a same-sex couple getting married this year. Rena is the co-President of Wharton Women in Business, following her employment at Business Council for Peace where she provided business consulting and training to entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. Prior to Wharton, Vivian spent 6 years working in principal investing and investment banking at the Macquarie Group and Goldman Sachs in New York. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance. Stew spoke with both women about the challenges facing the LGBT community in bringing their authentic selves to the workplace.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: The issue of “being out for business” vs. “covering” at work is something the LGBT community has had to deal with for a long time, as I discussed with Kenji Yoshino and Christie Smith on a previous show. Norms are changing rapidly but there is a huge cost personally and in terms of productivity that comes with having to invest energy into figuring out how to navigate with a heavy mask on. Vivian, what did you see as the costs when you were “covering” or “closeted” at work in your career on Wall Street?

Vivian Chung: Rena Fried Vivian ChungI think the main cost was not letting people understand what I was concerned about, what my interests were, and what I cared about. I spend a ton of my time working for LGBT communities in the non-profit space, but when I have to hide and say, “No, I have something later tonight,” “I have to run now,” and so on, people might think I’m wasting my time, getting my nails done, or going to the movies when really I am spending my time working on a cause I really care about. They don’t really get to see that side of me. Or, for example, if it’s my anniversary or Valentine’s Day, and I have to go to dinner tonight at 8, my boss might be pissed because he or she doesn’t understand why my leaving by 8 is so important. But I can’t really say I need to leave because it’s my second anniversary.

SF: So you had to cover.  Why should it matter to your boss that you had to come up with that excuse or find a way to make what you were doing seem urgent and normal?

VC: It’s hard to say exactly where and who it hurts the most, but I think it does impact my career and in some way prevent my achievement. When I am closeted, people don’t fully understand what I’m about, but they should understand what I’m about because they’re paying me to work for them.

SF: There’s also value that you are creating for them in the things that you do outside the office. A central idea in my work is how to capture value from one part of your life and bring it into another part of your life, so that what you do in your family, what you do in your community, and what you do in your private time can bring a positive impact in your business life. If you have to shut off all of that, then you can’t really bring it into your business in terms of reputation, building networks, and understanding different kinds of markets. There is a very real business cost to the work of having to disguise yourself.

How and why did you decide to come out?

VC: It’s a new time. If anyone googled me or looked on Facebook they’d easily see that I was on the board of several LGBT groups. Since the information was essentially public and since I realized that this really shouldn’t matter or be an issue for any organization that I’d want to work for, I made the decision not to hide who I really am.

SF: How does being out now affect your job search and the interviewing process?

Rena Fried: We look at what policies and regulations they have in place. We want to be in a place that has equal health care. We’re looking at living in San Francisco; California will recognize a marriage. And we look at culture, whether they have an LGBT Employee Resource Group (ERG), or, if it’s a smaller place, then is it a place where people have photos of their partners on their desks or talk opening about being gay. And it’s not just about LGBT issues, when I look at the Executive team, is it racially diverse, are there women in leadership? I wouldn’t want to work in a place where there isn’t diversity. I think that’s core to the success of a business.

SF: And for you, Vivian?

VC: It plays a role in my wanting to leave finance and go into tech. It’s friendlier.

SF: What can companies do? What are they doing?

VC: It’s an attitude of acceptance of difference. At my summer internship at Amazon, for example, there were badges on the internal Facebook pages for “quirkiness” which sends the message that you can come to work as yourself.  It indicates and builds a culture that allows people to be different. Whereas on Wall Street the dress code, for instance, is strict and narrow.

SF: It sounds like this was a culture that not only accepted but encouraged people to be themselves. What about the Wharton culture in terms of its openness to variation and diversity?

RF: One of the reasons we chose to come to Wharton was because of the LGBT community.  Wharton has, by far and away, one of the largest LGBT communities and one of the most vocal communities.  And not just the number of people that are in “Out For Business” – our LGBT group – but also Wharton has many more queer women than the other schools.

VC: The group has about 800 people – which includes “allies” – so it’s about half the school. Most in the group are allies, which means they support the LGBT community.  During Rainbow week we give everyone mini flags and it’s exciting to walk into a classroom and see so many flags, to see so many people are accepting and welcoming and has a visible sign to say that this is a welcoming classroom.  Little signs like that make a real difference.  Companies can initiate small things like this too to create a climate of acceptance.

SF: Rena, what do you see as you look to the next five to ten years of change in the social environment of this nation and of the world in terms of a broader embrace of diversity with respect to sexual orientation?

RF: The repeal of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) and nationwide legislative action on gay marriage have been great steps in the right direction which have been meaningful for us

VC: I agree that policies can change somewhat quickly, but minds don’t change as quickly. There are a lot of prejudices that still exist, and I think it’s going to take a long time for a fair amount of prejudice to undo itself.

SF: What can our listeners do to help speed up the process? What advice would you have?

RF: On a day-to-day basis, the best thing that helps me as an LGBT-identified person is when other people speak out when they hear something that’s not right. Rather than leaving it to the LGBT person who is being targeted to speak up for themselves, folk who hear something discriminatory or rude or simply offensive could stand up and say this isn’t right and why it’s not right. That simple act can go a long way in reducing discrimination and prejudice.

To learn more about the leadership organizations Rena and Vivian are involved in, visit the websites of Wharton Women in Business and the National Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance.

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.

 

Building a Mentoring Roundtable — Kathy Korman Frey

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 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 Kathy Korman Frey, Founder and Chief of the Hot Mommas Project and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the George Washington University School of Business. The Hot Mommas (c) Project is home to the world’s largest library of women’s leadership case studies and is an award-winning organization that helps women achieve confidence and reach their potential for success. Frey also teaches Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at the George Washington University School of Business where her course has won a National Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Award.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Kathy, I understand that you are doing a lot to provide examples of women leaders that other people can learn from and perhaps be inspired by.

Kathy Korman Frey: kathy korman freyThat’s absolutely right—access to role models and mentors is directly correlated to women’s career success, even in case study form.

SF: What exactly does Hot Momma’s do?

KKF: At first, we focused on the development of women’s leadership cases because a lot of folks were interested in ensuring that the stories of various women were told. We developed a software whereby women from all over the world could share their stories in a very specific format, hence the cases. Since then, our organization has grown to include classes that bring the concept of role models and mentors to life through workshops and a virtual campus model that we are launching next month.

We’ve done the classes many times in-person, and on a number of different campuses. The psychographic and demographic that usually come to us have very specific needs. We’re doing something a little different with our virtual campus model that will really meet their different needs in terms of accessibility and time-saving.

SF: How do the case studies actually help people? What evidence do you have that they actually make a difference?

KKF: We have our own research that we’ve developed, but there was also research which initially led us down this path. When I first started teaching women’s entrepreneurship at GW, I read a study that said exposure to role models and mentors, even in the form of case studies, was shown to increase self-efficacy in women. I learned that self-efficacy is like an action-oriented form of self-confidence. If confidence is feeling good about yourself, self-efficacy is sort of like that Rosie the Riveter picture—an “I can do it” feeling. It’s the confidence that you can act on your abilities or skills and that you can accomplish something. It’s really quite powerful.

SF: Of course.    And especially to the extent that a lack of self-efficacy is what can inhibit people, especially women, in a corporate setting there’s also something to be said for having a social environment that can reinforce self-efficacy and keep you accountable to the promises you make to yourself when the going gets tough.

KKF: That is key. Actually, that’s part of what we’re doing with our virtual campus. In our research, we actually found that there is an optimal number of mentors which is significantly related to people having more confidence and higher perceptions of success than their peers. Between those having four or fewer mentors and those with five or more, there was about a twenty percent difference in self-perceptions of success and confidence. People should think about finding a “table” of mentors, and how they might build that table of five or so people, not all at once, but over the course of the year.

SF: What are some of the critical criteria for putting together that personal board of directors—people who are going to hold you accountable, offer you support, and encourage you to take on the kind of challenge that make you feel good? How should you go about selecting those people?

KKF: The most important thing is making sure that these are people who actually have your best interests at heart. This is not a general admission concert, but a table of at least five very trusted advisors. It’s also important to clarify what this table is not. For example, when somebody gets an assignment like this from our workshop or in my class, there’s always someone who thinks, “Okay, I just need a mentor with a pulse to fill this spot and get the assignment over with.”

But what the table is really about is aligning each of these seats with your goals. Let’s say you have a goal to publish another book, and it’s a book in a totally new area, then you might fill that seat with somebody who is an expert in that area. Let’s say you want to do more online or you want to do more internationally—that could be another seat. Let’s say your work puts a lot of pressure on your family, then you could have a work-life balance seat. Maybe there’s some big personal project that you’ve abandoned in light of other responsibilities, then that’s going to be your fifth seat, thus filling two seats for personal concerns and three seats for business. Folks can choose to change it up however they want, as long as they make a point to not just find a warm body and really try to align those seats to their goals.

At the end of the day, this is one of many things women can do to support themselves and to support each other. We can’t move an entire aspect of policy and decades of history with a magic wand, but when we ask, “What can I do today?” this is something I could do today, and I could teach to all the women around me, too. At Hot Momma’s, that’s really what we try to focus on.

To learn more about Kathy Korman Frey’s work, visit her organization’s website at www.HotMommasProject.com and follow her on Twitter @ChiefHotMomma.

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

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