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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.

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.

Gaining Self-Control — Katy Milkman

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 Katy Milkman, the James G. Campbell Jr. Assistant Professor at the Wharton School with a secondary appointment at the Perelman School of Medicine, both at the University of Pennsylvania.  She has been recognized as one of the top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants, and was voted Wharton’s “Iron Prof” by the school’s own MBA students.  Katy uses “big data” to examine the choices we make and how self-control, or the lack of it, affects those choices.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: There may be a tendency to see self-control as personal issue.  Why is self-control important for performance and effectiveness at work?

Katy Milkman: Katy MilkmanMaking deadlines, avoiding distractions, focusing; these all require self-control. Self-control is linked with higher I.Q and with greater productivity. Also having self-control effects health and being healthy means you can perform better at work

SF: What’s the association between self-control and IQ?

KM: Waler Mischel, the Stanford University psychologist who originated the marshmallow test back in the 1960s, told children that they could either eat the marshmallow now or, if they waited they’d get a second marshmallow.  Then he observed to find out how long they could wait, delay gratification. He found that those who were able to wait longer ultimately attained higher IQ later in life, and higher SATs, too.

SF: So, is the ability to delay gratification, to have self-controllearned or are you born with certain propensities? What’s your take on this?

KM:  Both.The example that I use is that it’s like a muscle. You can exercise it and strengthen it to improve outcomes and health.

SF: How did you personally get into studying this?  It’s a bit unusual for a business school professor.

KM: It’s “me”search. You have to be passionate about what you study. I always struggled with food cravings, going to the gym, focusing at work (not checking Facebook and Twitter), and my sweet tooth. I struggle with self-control.  Studying it, I could see that, “Oh, it’s not just me, others struggle, too.”  Studying this phenomenon allows me to contribute to the literature on it, increase knowledge for others, not just for myself.

SF: So what are the big insights? How can we avoid temptations?

KM: Uncertainty is bad for self-control. If you don’t know if you’ll have a job, or if you’re waiting for results from a medical test, or something like that, if there are these “incidental uncertainties,” then there’s a tendency to reach for the Ben & Jerry’s,  low-brow magazines, and the like.

SF: So, anxiety, or worry, interferes with our capacity to stay focused on tasks; to exert self-control?

KM: If something is unresolved, that’s when self-control diminishes.  When are the moments that we are most motivated to have self-control? And how can we encourage workers to go to the gym, to have flu shots? Google asked these questions about its own employees. When’s the best time to deploy incentives? How about the New Years’ Eve effect?  This is when there’s a fresh start, a new year, people start diets at a higher rate, go to the gym more. There are many fresh start moments, not just New Year’s Eve.

SF: Does the beginning of the day count?

KM: Yes, in hospitals, people sanitize their hands more at beginning of day. Within the day, yes, there are fresh starts. The start of a new week, or month, following birthdays and holidays – these are other fresh starts. They break continuous flow of time. My past failures are behind me; I can restart this month, have a fresh start, a new semester.  Except on the 21st birthday!  People search more on Google for diets at beginning of the month, for example.

SF: Religions do this, denote time.  This wisdom has been around for a while through religious rituals using the architecture of time.

KM: Is there a higher rate in the Jewish population of greater self-control after Yom Kippur? We’re studying it!

SF:  What did Google do with what it learned about timing? Is there extra messaging and are there more incentives offered when people are ripe for fresh start at the beginning of the week or month?

KM: You can’t send messages out all the time.  So, yes, they now target them at those fresh start moments.

Caller from Minnesota, Molly: I only have so much energy and then it breaks down. Willpower is like a muscle, it gets tired.  What can be done?

KM: “Temptatation bundling” helps with things like struggles to get to gym and watching too much low-brow TV.  What if you only watch low-brow when you’re at the gym?!   Time flies at the gym and you’re anxious to go to gym; you look forward to it, there’s an incentive. Temptation bundling harnesses the power of the temptation of the low-brow. You only let yourself go to the burger joint when you’re with a difficult colleague, or get pedicures when responding to email. So you give in to the indulgence and you find that you have available willpower storage, so you don’t exhaust or deplete the reserve.

SF: What has the biggest impact?

KM: Prompting people to form concrete plans about when they’re going to follow through. Let’s take an example with onsite free flu shot clinics, which are important because they decrease absenteeism, reduce costs, and yield happier and more productive employees.  So, how can a company increase free flu shot use?  We did a mailing, and we did the same mailing plus a prompt for the employee to write down a date and time when they would come to get the shot.  They didn’t have to reply, they were simply asked to write this down for themselves. There was a big effect; flu shot use went up 13%. And attendance more than doubled (with the writing-it-down group) when there was only one day flu shots were being offered.

And we’ve discovered the same effect with getting a colonoscopy – which is a lot more to ask!  Same thing. Write it down. Same with voter turn-out.  The prompt is free and yields big effects. It’s a way to overcome forgetfulness and procrastination.

Katy Milkman is the James G. Campbell Jr. Assistant Professor at the Wharton School and has a secondary appointment at the Perelman School of Medicine, both at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her research relies heavily on “big data” to document various ways in which individuals systematically deviate from making optimal choices. Her work has paid particular attention to the question of what factors produce self-control failures (e.g., undersaving for retirement, exercising too little, eating too much junk food) and how to reduce the incidence of such failures.  To learn more, follow her on Twitter @Katy_Milkman

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

The Best Companies to Work for in 2014 — Carol Evans

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 Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media about their just-released 2014 list of 100 Best Places to Work.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman:Working Mother just released list of Best Companies for 2014.  What makes a company a great Working Mother pick?

Carol Evans:  Caro lEvansWe ask 500 questions, and we get very detailed.

SF: Who has time to complete a survey like that?

CE:  Companies who care about working families including parental leave for both working parents, corporate culture, leadership, having women in middle level positions and top level positions, mentorship, support, and more.

SF: This is now a coveted position for corporations to be on this list.  It helps them compete in the labor market.

CE: It’s a big differentiator. Women look to the list for where to work. Men now want to know, too.

SF: So how can a corporation get to the top 10?

CE: Parental leave, childcare, excellence across the board on many, but not all, factors. A lot of these companies have been on the list for a long time.

SF: So the list covers all dimensions of work and life issues.  Will having good programs that support life beyond work get you on the list?

CE: If you have programs, but women aren’t advancing, then no, you will not accumulate the points you’d need to be on the list.  It’s not subjective. We want to know how many people have access to each policy and then how many actually use them.  And what about the culture; do people feel afraid to use programs designed to retain them?

SF: Policy and practice only go so far.  So cultural mores determine if they’re really being accessed.

CE: Companies have to market it to their employees. If people don’t use it, it becomes the norm not to use it.

SF: How do you ensure the data is valid and accurate?

CE: We fact check data.  And we put in magazine. That’s the best check and balance. If it’s not accurate your employees will call you on it. The companies don’t know what we’ll put in the magazine.

SF: Have you ever had situation where the company said one thing and employees said it wasn’t so?

CE: Yes, before but not now. We had a typo.  We wrote a 16 week not a 6 week leave policy.  Oh my gosh, we heard from everyone in the company!

SF: So, what happened?  Did it create pressure to increase the leave?

CE: Yes, they increased it!

SF: How does the list influence policy – apart from typos?

CE:  We launched in 1986 and we’ve seen tremendous change because of the list. First, the companies themselves benefit via the application process itself. The people writing the answers to our survey get to know what their organization even has to offer and how much it’s used – flex, childcare, going to the gym, mentoring program, ERG (employee resource group). Second, after publication they learn that they have 8 weeks of maternity leave, but their competitor has 12 weeks.  And they have to ask, as their employees do, why don’t we have that?  And then if all the top ten have X, let’s get up to that so we can be competitive. Relative to your competition or to the best. Knowledge is like gold; it’s a competitive advantage. It’s a great carrot. You give us your data. And we show aggregates. Finally, for the talent, that is for individual women, they find out from reading the magazine once a year what’s the latest and greatest in work/life. They learn ideas of what to ask for and this helps them to be brave enough to take advantage of the benefits.

SF: So it’s the knowledge that’s empowering.  In 30 years – what’s changed? What’s the big idea, the big shift? Has there been real progress?

CE: The pregnancy act was in 1978. That made it illegal to fire someone for being pregnant. Before 1978 it was perfectly acceptable to do so.  When we started the list only 30 companies were doing something. Now the offerings are much more sophisticated and culturally embedded, and they’re demanded by moms and dads and by millennials.

SF: Is technology a catalyst for some of the change you’re seeing especially for millennials?

CE: It’s a double-edged sword. Some companies are experimenting with new policies about not having the digital line crossed. For instance, Deloitte has digital free weekends to renew and refresh. On the list we uncover new things that companies are doing.  We codify the new stuff, put it in magazine, discuss it at the Work/Life Conference, tweet about it. Then next year we ask everyone else if theyr’e doing it.

SF: The list is a catalyst for change not a catalog of policies.

CE: Yes, so now we ask, Are you sponsoring, not mentoring? Do you have paid paternity leave.

SF: Working Mother is the name, so what about dads? Other demographics benefit from work/life practices. How has it spread and how does the list address these changes?

CE: Millennials demand it and that helps to get it across to CEOs. Women are like the icebreaker and behind you all the other boats get through. Women get these benefits, and then everybody benefits.

 

Carol Evans, is President of Working Mother Media, CEO of the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) Diversity Best Practices (DBP), and author of This is How We Do It: The Working Mother’s Manifesto. For more information check out www.workingmother.com and follow Carol at @CarolEvansWM

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.

Moxie Makes New Things Possible — John Baldoni

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 John Baldoni an executive coach and author of a number of books including his latest, Moxie: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: What is moxie?

John Baldoni: John Baldoni Guts, gumption, and determination to beat the odds.  Courage, standing up for what you believe in and your people. I always liked the word from movies of 30’s and 40’s: “That boxer, he’s got moxie.” It’s an inner resolve. When I watched the recent economic crisis and leader after leader didn’t know how to react, didn’t know how to deal with adversity, I began to think about this as a leadership challenge.

SF: How can you address the question of guts and resolve?  How can people develop this capacity?

JB:  People can tend to focus on the negative: “my project was turned down,” “I can’t connect with my team.”  I ask people to be mindful of themselves and to be situationally aware. MOXIE is an acronym.  The “M” is for mindfulness.  Explore what you want to achieve.  A leader can’t say it’s not my job, you have to take responsibility. The “O” is for opportunity. “X” is the X-factor – character compassion, creativity, what makes you, you.  “I” is for innovation and “E” is for engagement.

SF: If those you coach lack the resolve, what do you do to help them build and develop an inner resolve?

JB: Confidence is key.  Where does confidence come from?  From inside, yes, but also from what you’ve done. Sports or academic track record, your accomplishments, achievements.  We can dwell on our defeats vs. what we’ve done. To get resolve, focus on building confidence.

SF: So it’s reframing adversity and using what they have already accomplished.

JB: Part of the reframing is that you’re not alone. Warren Bennis said he never met a successful person who didn’t have a crucible.

SF: How can people develop moxie, self-confidence and persistence? How can it be cultivated?

JB: Some of us are more dispositionally inclined toward this, but can be nurtured, learned. You need to be tactical and practical. It’s not just believing in yourself, but then it’s what are you going to do about – school, professional development courses, job rotation…you need to prepare yourself.

SF: In our uncertain world with so much economic displacement and inequality where does one get the wherewithal or strength. How to get past that? There’s reviewing past accomplishments, but how else can we develop strength, internal resolve.

JB: Role models, teachers, parents, historical figures, people who inspire. How did they achieve? If we’re talking about the disadvantaged they often have street smarts, survival skills, moxie. And they can reach out to teacher coach, pastor.

SF: So, getting help from others, or learning from exemplars who’ve risen through crucibles is another strategy. How does moxie play out outside of work, in family, community, self?

JB: I If you have inner resolve, inner strength, you’re more centered, you know what you can and cannot do. Mindfulness, the “M” is critical but so is the “E” for engagement.  How do I relate to others? It’s not simply self-awareness. It’s also how am I being perceived?  I use our Total Leadership in nearly all my coaching over the past 5 years. Some leaders have stunning lack of self-awareness, they’re not aware of how they’re coming across to others.  Leadership is an active process, how to take time to take stock of themselves.

SF: It’s important to be mindful of how we come across at home as opposed to at work or with friends?  It’s important to understand how others perceive us.

JB: Yes, at work we might have false fronts, we might be fearful of losing our jobs, or we might not be in the right job.  I borrow from you, your time and attention chart. Where’s the time for yourself? How are you prioritizing? What can you do differently? Getting 360 degree feedback takes guts, takes moxie

SF: It takes courage to look inside, to find out who you really are and what you’re trying to do in this world. It’s hard work to convert what you have toward the goal of leading the life you want, a life defined by purpose and filled with meaning.

JB: MOXIE is a way of exploring purpose. You can’t foster innovation until you engage with others. Engage hearts and minds and get the commitment of others. You can only reach out and engage if you’re self-confident, purposeful, and know how you can I do it.

SF: What’s the key take-away?

JB: Guts and gumption.  Don’t let adversity be the end.  There’s no shame in being knocked down, it’s what you do with it.  You need to figure out how to get around barriers, make good things happen for yourself and others. Radiate it yourself and coach others around defeat.

John Baldoni is chair of the leadership development practice of N2growth, a global leadership consultancy, and author of Lead with PurposeLead Your Boss, and the new book, MOXIE:  The Secret To Bold And Gutsy Leadership.  For more, follow John on Twitter @JohnBaldoni.

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.

The Online Collision of Our Work and Personal Lives: Ariane Ollier-Malaterre

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 Ariane Ollier-MalaterreProfessor of Management at the University of Quebec in Montreal, where she conducts research on and teaches about work and life around the world.  Her recent work focusses on the impact of technology on our work and non-work lives.  The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: How did you get involved with and intrigued by the question of how life online collides with the rest of life?

Ariane Ollier-Malaterre: Ariane Ollier-MalaterrePrior to my life in academia, I was in the business world.  There I observed that, though we all have multiple identities and commitments in life, employers don’t seem to recognize or tackle this issue.

SF: What do you mean, they don’t tackle it?

AO: Most organizations operate under the myth that we leave our private lives at the door. But in truth, as your work demonstrates, Stew, when you come to work you come to work as a full person,  with history and with emotions and it’s a challenge to behave as if you are a professional robot.   Employers expect employees to behave in only a professional way, bounded by the physical space (the office) and the time (the work day).

SF: You’re saying that theboundaries are often ignored to detriment of both parties. So what about the research you’ve been doing onsocial networks with my colleagues here at Wharton, Nancy Rothbard and Justin Berg?

AO: Facebook has 1.3 billion active users, when last I checked, and half are on every day. On social networks, people average 130 connections including 16 co-workers, and sometime supervisors. So interactions at work extend to cyber space, online. But you also have personal things happening online. You may have supervisors, coworkers, clients, friends, family; all online.  People forget who has access, they disclose too much to their “invisible audience.”

SF: So what happens when these professional and personal worlds collide online?

AO: Cyberspace offers opportunities to connect with colleagues and broadcast information, for example to market a product or book.  But it also creates challenges. In real life we have boundaries. We can segment time or space.  We can have different email in-boxes for different categories of connections. We have mental fences to help us simplify complex realities and remind us of social scripts. In the real world, as opposed to cyber space, you come to work in attire appropriate to the work setting and you use appropriate language, you behave in ways appropriate to your professional setting.

SF: In the real world there are markers, reminders: clothes, mores, norms, codes of conduct.

AO: Yes, you know not to wear a bathing suit to work. But you might post a family beach vacation picture in which you’re wearing a bathing suit.  What about if your Board of Directors sees that picture of you in your bathing suit on Facebook? They might be open to it, but their perception of you will change.

SF: With what consequence?

AO: We’ve found that there are important consequences in terms of respect and liking. If you share many personal pictures, people might like you more because they know you more. They may also like you less, if, for instance, you have a different political opinion than they do.

SF: Better to avoid politics in cyber space?

AO: Yes. That’s part of the content strategy. If you feel the need to re-create the boundary that you don’t have in cyberspace, just share neutral material. And don’t share goofy comments.  the other thing is the audience approach. Try to control who gets to be connected to you and who gets to see your information.

SF: With whom should you connect? Supervisors? Peers? Subordinates? Should LinkedIn be for professional circles and Facebook for friends and family, for example?

AO: It depends on the goals. You can try to re-create some boundaries. If you do nothing to create separation, that’s an open approach, and you might disclose too much which can have serious consequences to your professional reputation. An example of an infamous social media disaster: “The Infamous Africa tweet” by Justine Sacco, a communications executive with IAC, who was on her way to South Africa and posted a tweet “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding.  I’m white! She spent 11 hours on the plane while the tweet ricocheted around the internet and when she landed, she was fired. Funny is hard; it’s risky. You can’t judge the audience so that you can make adjustments.

SF: So, is the open strategy is to be avoided? Should caution rule? What’s your advice?  What does the evidence indicate?

AO: It is best to try to do something about the collision of the worlds.  Ignore people or don’t accept their invitations.  But then, of course, you might offend people who, while colleagues, consider themselves friends of yours. But it is best to try to re-create boundaries. Make mental fences.  And be careful about content. Avoid politics, sexual orientation, and religion.

SF: So, avoid hot content. But what about invitations from colleagues and coworkers?

AO: Bosses who ask to be connected ask are intruding. And there can be consequences to team dynamics. What if boss is friends with one or two but not with others?

SF: Are there any benefits from cyber connectivity, bringing different parts together?

AO:  You get to connect with people with whom you work and that helps your charisma.  Mixing the professional and personal makes you seem authentic.  Creating different Google circles is an option.

Ariane Ollier-Malaterre is Professor at University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM), Canada. Her research investigates how individuals articulate professional and personal identities and responsibilities and how organizations address changing career and work-family issues in different parts of the world. @ArianeOllier

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.

A Champion for Change: David Thomas

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 David Thomas, Dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, about the state of diversity and inclusion in corporate America.  The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: How did you first get into this topic of diversity in corporate America?

David Thomas: David Thomas (by James KegleyI wasinitially interested in three topics: how organizations change, how people manage their careers, and the influence of race on opportunities. In the early 80s I was studying the dynamics of mentoring in large corporations under differing circumstances – mentoring within the same race and across race, mentoring with the same gender and across gender. This was in the context of an organization trying to change its culture.  It was so far ahead of its peers. I remained passionate about this for leaders, society, and for organizations.

SF: How wereyou personally shaped by mentoring relationships?

DT: I grew up in Kansas City MO, born in 1950s; a very segregated time. At younger than five years old when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “President.”  Only later did I say I wanted to be “the first black President.”  It’s interesting to say this now, as I’m sitting blocks from the White House which is occupied by our first black President. What’s interesting is that at five I wanted to be President, but only later, with the realization of my group identity, did I say “the first black President.”   Later, when I was not yet eight, I said “I’m going to be a lawyer.” By then I’d realized a black man couldn’t be President.  A lawyer was the next best. I saw the civil rights movement – preachers and lawyers. One went to jail, one got them out of jail. I wanted to be a lawyer.

SF: You wanted to liberate people.

DT: Yes, I wanted to try to create change, to make the world a better place. And I found my way into organizational behavior.

SF: How did you go from wanting to be a lawyer to the field of organizational behavior?

DT: In college I was a student leader around black identity in black community. At Yale, I studied the African movement in 1970s and stumbled on an organization behavior course relevant to student leadership work. I realized these were concept and tools that could change the world. There’d be lots of lawyers but few that had knowledge to make organizations better. So I went to grad school at Columbia and then back to Yale.

SF: You’ve been an observer of race, diversity, inclusion in organizations for decades — what has changed and was hasn’t?

DT: What has changed is that the gates of opportunity have opened up in a way so that no child can say that anything is impossible in the way that it was for me when I was a little kid; at that time it was not possible for a black kid to aspire to be President. That’s the positive. If you are black you can be President, a CEO, a senator, a CFO, a Corporate Board member. But still, when we look at the Fortune 250 there are only five black CEOs and the number of African Americans on Boards of Directors has been stagnant. The percent of African Americans in these elite ranks have remained about the same for two decades. There’s a sense that opportunity is not expanding and yet lack of representation is still connected to stereotypes. There is a great body of work on unconscious bias. I think this is the explanation, not intentional discrimination.

SF: Unconscious bias – define that for our listeners. It’s more pernicious than explicit racism.

DT:  Unconscious bias is the automatic reactions we have to particular people or demographic groups that are out of our awareness and that don’t necessarily represent what our intentions are. The major research findings are, for example, that people are more likely to associate women to family and men to career. People more quickly and easily make those associations.  What happens is that if boss has to send a subordinate on the road and both subordinates – a man and a woman — had a baby recently, the boss is more likely to walk over to male to assign him to being on the road of for two weeks. Unconsciously the boss has concluded that the man would be more likely to be open to this assignment. Fast forward two years, and these gateway assignments add up, the she’s lost out and he got the experience. She wasn’t even given the choice.

SF: You’re saying the manager didn’t intend to discriminate but his actions had a discriminatory effect. So what are we doing to deal with gender and race stereotypes in corporations and elsewhere?

DT: First, we know that because the expression of these biases is not intentional, if people can slow down they can become aware of the bias. For instance, the manager could walk in, describe the opportunity to both subordinates, and assess their willingness to take the opportunity.  Then it’s more conscious choice. The boss is more likely to make the choice based on task factors versus based on an unconscious set of assumptions.

SF: So, this is a more mindful approach to inclusion and diversity.

DT: Yes, you have to work with leaders and managers to help them become more mindful. It starts with acknowledging and then taking responsibility for the fact that they’re not immune to bias. Companies that are unwilling to accept that they may be susceptible to some kinds of bias are a problem.

SF: So how do you address this?  People believe and say “I’m not racist, I’m not sexist, so why blame me?”  How do you break into this?

DT: There’s a great tool, a self-administered test to assess whether you possess unconscious bias.. The Harvard Implicit bias test examines issues such as race, gender, skin color, age, gay straight, religion.  You can see where your own susceptibilities lie.  We all have biases that have been socialized into us. There’s been real success with students and with companies. The self-administered test opens people up to the fact that they’re not immune.  But also we are not destined to perpetuate biases.  Once they’re aware they have choices about how they act.

SF: We’re all products of our culture and local familial heritage.  To evolve we have to address these unconscious biases. What’s the most import step for schools and companies to be more inclusive and fairer?

DT:  Wittingly or unwittingly we exhibit bias.  Leaders need to take responsibility to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. I’m the chief diversity officer because I’m the CEO, I’m the Dean. You have to be willing to change processes that create unearned privilege or hindrances for groups of people. For example, a finance company used credit scores to help select employees. Because of differences in wealth, people of color have less wealth, so using a credit score perpetuates inequality. The company did away with using that criteria and used others related to the work. And, they did an experiment and found no relationship between credit scores and employ performance. Also credit scores go up with stable employment.

SF: Using the credit score as an entry requirement perpetuated the structural inequality. So, what does the future hold?

DT: I’m hopeful. I see many companies that are reinvigorating and reinvesting in diversity and inclusion. I am most concerned about unconscious bias in small and medium size companies, especially in tech companies. And tech is where the future lies. In silicon valley African Americans and Latinos are woefully lacking. Women, too.

David Thomas, Dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, is a recognized leader in the field of diversity in the workplace and author of Breaking Through: the Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America. To learn more about his ideas follow him on Twitter @ProfThomas.

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.

The Career Job is Not Dead: Matthew Bidwell

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 Matthew Bidwell, Assoc Prof of Management at the Wharton School whose research focuses on work and employment patterns.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Please tell our listeners about your research on the lives and careers of our Wharton students and alumni.

Matthew Bidwell: Matthew BidwellOur survey in 2011 asked all alumni, 30K of them, about what they have been doing, what jobs have they held.  I focused on those who graduated since 1990, but the whole sample includes some from as far back as 1940s. We looked at where they worked, what kind of jobs they held within their organizations and across different organizations. We were trying to understand inside vs. outside moves. We certainly move around more. Some have been in a firm 20-30 years. 10% of grads from 1990 spent their career in one place. But even with those who graduated in 1990 we found most moved across companies.

SF: Much is being written about how career paths and employment patterns are changing now, that Millennials especially stay in jobs for shorter tenures.

MB: We looked at titles,seniority, how many people they managed. We found that by the 2nd or 3rd job 80-90% were managing others which is a good proxy for are they moving up. Career jobs are sick but not dead. Most still stay within an organization and then move.  When people moved inside the firm they tended to double the number of people they managed. But when they moved across firms the number they managed stayed the same. Moving up the ladder happens within organizations. The new employer doesn’t know you well, so they don’t hire you for a higher level job. It’s too risky for the new firm.

SF: What can you predict?

MB: If you’re looking to climb the ladder, then stay internal especially if you’re doing well. If you don’t like your employer, if there are not opportunities within, then you can consider a move. But you may not be able to get a job with promotion; promotion occur within the company.

SF: So why is there so much mobility now?

MB: You move sideways when you move across firms. So why do people bother? More money.  When you move outside our firm the new employer tends to pay more, but the new job does not include a higher level title or increased responsibility.

SF: And what did you discover about life outside of work?

MB: Of the 30K who received the survey only 5 – 6 K responded. We asked about family situations – marital status and the like. We asked about how much they were working (number of hours), work/life satisfaction. MBAs report that they work a lot. The median reporting was 60+hours/week at graduation; investment bankers, 75 hours/week; consultants, a bit less.  Ten to 15 years later all report working 55 hours/week.

SF: In my study of the classes of 1992 and 2012, reported in Baby Bust we found that, at the time of graduation, the Class of ’92 reported working 50 hours/week on average while the Class of 2012 reported working 70 hours/week.  This seemed to be largely due to the funneling into investment banking and consulting.  What trends did you see?

MB:  We looked at how things differed for men and women. From the outset men and women looked at different jobs. They were not less likely to be offered high paying jobs, but women were less likely to apply for those.

SF: Why?

MB: Work/life balance factors. The higher paying jobs demanding greater hours per week were seen as macho, aggressive. Finance jobs scored lower for women.

SF: What’s the takeaway for the modern career?

MB: The career job is not dead. You shouldn’t plan on it, but there are real benefits of staying.

Matthew Bidwell, Assoc. Prof of Management at the Wharton School studies work and employment patterns including mobility, promotion, outsourcing, staffing and more.

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.

 

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