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Executive Search from the Inside – Greig Schneider of Egon Zehnder

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 Greig Schneider Managing Partner of Egon Zehnder’s U.S. practice. Greig is a core member of Egon Zehnder’s Assessment and Development and formerly led that group globally, working with senior leaders and Boards on succession, assessment and executive development projects.  Before his work at Egon Zehnder he earned an MBA from Harvard, was an officer in the US Navy, worked at McKinsey and was VP of Strategy Consulting at Michael Porter’s Foundation for Strategy Group.

The following are edited excerpts from their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Tell us about Egon Zehnder, this premier search firm.

Greig Schneider: greig schneiderEgon Zehnder is a global firm, one of the world’s leaders in talent consulting. There’s three lines of business: Executive search which is about helping clients find the right talent for critical roles; Assessment and Development which helps our clients understand their people’s capabilities and make critical people decisions such as merger integration or helping teams align; and there’s Board Services which includes finding Board members, helping Boards align and helping them be more effective in the role.

SF: How does a typical search unfold from each parties perspective?

GS: From the client’s perspective there are a few key steps. The first one is a pretty substantial investment in understanding the role. These are C-Suite, or close to it, roles and they’re not all the same. So, if it’s for a CFO position, then what kind of CFO? Specifically, what is needed from a skills perspective? What kind of person? What kind of culture? You want to get all the detail you can to find the right fit. From the client’s perspective, once we have that brief it’s our job to go out and find people that are great fits for that. They’re paying us not just to find them but to assess them and prepare them. They’ll then interview people that they probably know already are right for the role to choose the best one.

From the candidate’s perspective you’re evaluating from the other direction. Where are you in your career? What are you trying to do? Where are you trying to go? And is this role better or worse than your current set of opportunities to advance you in your goals?

SF: How do you help candidates explore those questions?

GS: That’s where I think we earn our money. At the levels we work at, pretty senior folks, all of the pieces that you look at are in play. So they tend to have large teams, they’re usually players in their communities, often-times there are dual-career issues. We don’t get it right unless they’re successful and they’re not going to be successful unless all those piece align.

We work very hard on the skills fit, their capabilities and their potential. But it won’t be a success if they go and they’re miserable if it’s not a place that they’re going to like living, if their family isn’t supportive. It’s important to explore all this with them to help them understand this life decision.

SF: How do you address the non-work considerations?

GS: It’s not easy. We get to know these people over a series of conversations and, as you know from your own work and research, there’s differing levels of openness to sharing their family situation. Very often candidates want to come across as all about business. They don’t want to talk about family because they think that someone might find that to be a weakness. Our job is to help them think about it. Here’s an example: There’s very often a question of working remotely which is coming up more and more.  So you have someone who says, “I have kids who are going to graduate in a year and a half. I’ll just fly in and be there five days a week and fly back. And I can do that for a couple of years.”  Some people can do that. It’s always hard, but it’s not always wrong. We often see people who are overconfident in their own and their family’s ability to manage something like that.

SF: It’s often hard to know in advance until you’re actually in that situation.

GS: You’re absolutely rights. So, we ask, “Have you done this before?” Is this something your family’s used to? Do you have systems in place to make it work? If the answer’s yes, we’re going to feel better about it. If the answer’s no, we’re going to push hard to make sure to make sure that conversation has happened and that this has been fully considered. Sometimes, we’ll find an appropriate way to say it’s just not going to work and that’s not good for anybody.

SF: Because of non-work or family considerations it might not work?  And you’ll make a recommendation on that basis.

GS: Absolutely. It’s complex. In the end, if we don’t think they’re going to be successful, which includes being happy putting all these pieces together, it’s our job to tell our clients that we have that concern. We don’t make the decision. The client makes the decision. We bring them the information.

SF: From the candidate’s perspective they’re largely in selling mode. They’re trying to appear as the best possible candidate if this is a position they’re keen on. How do you get past the sell to the reality?

GS: It’s a critical part of the role – being a good assessor. Part of it is asking the right questions. Part of it is building a trusting relationship. And that’s based partly on the backgrounds we all come from. We hire people who have been in their roles – people that have been in industry, that know the same kind of decisions they’re facing. So we can have that peer-to-peer conversation.  Plus, we’ve seen it a lot of times so we can ask questions like, “I’ve seen this before and someone in your shoes often asks this…”  And that can help them consider things that maybe they hadn’t thought of.

SF: Apart from your own credibility and experience in working with others in similar situations, what else do you do to build that trust?

GS: Part of it is the incentives. Our business is built on providing great solutions that work out well for everyone. It really is in our own self-interest to really make sure that they’re going to be happy and do well.

SF: So you’re thinking years ahead for this person and if it doesn’t work out for family reasons you feel responsible?

GS: Absolutely. If someone is picking up and moving from a community they like, sometimes their kids are in schools, I have kids. We recognize the weight of these decisions and we feel it. It’s crucial that we don’t leave any stone unturned to find out what could make it great or what could make it work out badly.

SF: How do you manage the growing issue of dual careers?

GS: With respect to our clients it’s a crucially important issue we have to understand. It’s one of the first questions we ask. And then, if they have kids in HS we need to explore that. These are often the reasons that someone says ultimately, “I just can’t do it right now.” Usually if someone is consider this type of change they’ve already had a conversation with their spouse about whose career has priority right now, how are we thinking about this, what cities are options because the spouse could transfer there.

SF: Are there patterns of solutions for resolving a dual-career challenge? What’s a good process? What advice do you have?

GS: The most important thing is to have open conversations – put these issues on the table and really explore them. We encourage people to think through their priorities and that includes all the pieces – it includes family, it includes the linkage to the community, are parents in the area, support systems. And these are particularly important for dual career couples. Do you have family members that can help you if someone has to run out of town?  Do you have a nanny that you trust and like?

We also see a lot of situations with special needs kids who need special schools and this may rule out certain cities.

SF: Do you find that family and non-work issues are increasingly important as candidates consider relocation?

GS: I would say increasing, but not a marked spike. As generations evolve, priorities evolve as well. We’re certainly seeing that with some of the younger people. If you’re graphing interest in the whole person and age, we are seeing more interest in this from younger people.

To learn more about Greig Schneider and Egon Zehnder go to their web site:  www.egonzehnder.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.

Valuable Tips to Relaunch Your Career — Carol Fishman Cohen

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 Harvard Business School graduate Carol Fishman Cohen. Cohen is CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch, a comprehensive resource for career reentry strategies, and co-author of career reentry strategy book Back on the Career Track.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Carol, you returned to work at Bain Capital after an 11-year maternity leave. What were the hardest things about getting back into your career?

Carol Fishman Cohen: Carol Fishman cohenThe hard parts fell into three categories. First, I skipped an essential step while I was away. I didn’t think through what I wanted to do, and whether my interests and skills had changed. I thought that because I was in finance, I needed to go back to the same role, and it wasn’t until I was well into it that I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. I could have avoided that with a career assessment pre re-entry.

Second, it was hard to build up confidence again and think of myself in terms of my working identity as opposed to the diminished sense of self that happened over time the longer I was on my career break. The longer that you’re on career break, the more you separate yourself from your career identity. To feel good about yourself as a professional is a process. It involves updating, sometimes academically if you’re in a STEM or other technical field, reconnecting with your networks from the past and getting comfortable telling your story.

SF: What are your strategies for coping with that?

CFC: I wrote a book called Back on the Career Track, and one of the career reentry strategies is a career assessment tool called a Job Building Blocks Worksheet — a framework for looking at prior significant work and volunteer experiences, identifying which of those components you love and are best at, and then using them to build a new career path.  Another strategy is to connect with your alma mater and see if they have alumni career services that can help with a career assessment – I know Wharton has a fantastic department!

Two tips for confidence building: when you get back in touch with your networks from the past, it’s important to remember that they have a ‘frozen-in-time’ image of you. Even if you have a diminished sense of self by being away, they don’t, so it’s sometimes a great confidence booster! LinkedIn is a great gift for re-launchers trying to find past contacts.

SF: What are some best practices in using LinkedIn for past contacts?

CFC: It’s low key and an easy way to connect, so they’re likely to accept your connection request. You want to tell them that you’ve been out of the workforce and are looking to re-launch, and are in a structured career assessment process. Make sure it’s clear that you are in information gathering mode, and it is not opportunistic – you’re not asking for a job. Ask for fifteen or twenty minutes to talk about changes in the field or their own career path. Inevitably, they will bring up more people to talk to.

As I said before, you have to get comfortable telling your story. Have these conversations with your non-judgmental friends and family first and ask for feedback. You will feel and sound better over time, which will build confidence. They’re essentially interview rehearsals.

SF: How do you coach people to talk about motherhood? Is it diminished because it’s not really relevant to business, or emphasized because of how much they’ve learned and changed?

CFC: It’s important not to make assumptions about your audience. You don’t know if the person interviewing you has been a parent who hasn’t taken a career break and may not think it’s a huge accomplishment at all, or they might even be resentful. You don’t want to talk about your ‘mom skills’ as part of the interview – only the skills that pertain to the jobs you’re applying to. When the interviewer inevitably asks about the six year gap in the resume, you want to acknowledge it – don’t apologize – and move on to why you’re the best person for the job. Draw attention to meaningful volunteer work and freelance work you’ve done in your time off if it is relevant, and treat it on your resume the same as paid work. Regardless of whether you had experiences during your career break relevant to your career goals, reference anecdotes from your pre-career break work experience that are pertinent to the job opportunity.

To learn more about Carol Fishman Cohen, visit her website www.iRelaunch.com , or follow her on Twitter @iRelaunch .

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 Marketing and OPIM with an International Relations minor. She also serves as a vice president for the Work-Life Integration Project Student Advisory Board.

Mindfulness Meditation and Banking — An Oxymoron?

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 Andrew Scheffer, Wharton MBA, and founder of Mindfulness Meditation Training. Andrew has worked at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and UBS and has extensive experience in private banking, financial services, and sales and combines his passion for meditation with his livelihood and all aspects of his life.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: How did you first come to mindfulness?

Andrew Scheffer: andrew schefferThere was both a conscious and unconscious evolution. I went to college at Johns Hopkins, and it was very stressful. After my freshman year, I felt that some of the calm that I’d entered college with had dissipated. At the time, my brother lent me some books on meditation. When I tried to do it, I found it quite alarming! Because even in the quarter of a second that I was asked to focus on my breath, I recognized that my mind wandered. It was the same sense of alarm you’d get when riding a car with a driver who takes their eyes of the road to talk to you. If I couldn’t pay attention under perfect conditions, what would happen when I was under stress?

SF: Define mindfulness for us. Is it different from meditation?

AS: Meditation is a horrible English translation of an ancient Pali or Sanskrit word, bhavana, which means to develop or to bring about. Meditation is about cultivating space of mind. Mindfulness is bringing about quality of mind. Meditation is often defined as thinking or reflecting, which is very different from a skill where you’re cultivating a specific quality of mind. Mindfulness can also be described as bringing one’s attention face to face with the object being observed.

SF: Is mindfulness an effective way of managing stress or reducing strain?

AS: It’s remarkably transformative. The better parts of me have become more polished and more dominant, and the parts of me that cause me unhappiness don’t dominate me. I’m now able to recognize harmful tendencies. Meditation helps with seeing those parts and dealing with them. When we’re paying attention, we start with the breath, then thoughts, and feelings. As your attention focuses on those thoughts and feelings, they start to lose their hold over you.

SF: I hear a lot from people in banking, and other sectors, about feeling that they’re stretched too thin. What’s your diagnosis of the culture of modern finance, and how can mindfulness training enhance it?

AS: One of the most important qualities of the private banker or wealth manager is the ability to listen to clients and assess their needs appropriately, to attend well to what people are really saying to you. The average person listens for 47 seconds before eagerly formulating their response. We can help them to break that habit and really pay attention to what the client is really saying before letting their minds race to solutions.

If you look at net neutrality, certain investment banks wanted to gain a speed advantage to gather information worth millions of dollars. Meditation can give you that ability. Scientists used to believe that all humans perceive information at a set rate. Through studies, they discovered that meditators perceive sights and sounds faster than others.

Caller 1: I’m a law student with a deadline on Monday, and I’m trying to pull an all-nighter to make it. It’s very stressful. Is there anything besides meditation that you’d suggest to relieve stress? What are your surroundings like when you’re trying to get into a mindful state?

AS: There are many things you can do to get into a more mindful state. One is to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to performance at a lower IQ, or as if we’re inebriated. Other simple things like taking a moment to let go of tension, going for walks, making sure you’re hydrated are basic tools to deal with stress.

SF: What are some of the obstacles when trying to be mindful, and how can we overcome them?

AS: In the beginning people have a lot of preconceptions about what meditation should be and feel like.  And they get frustrated when they can’t achieve those goals immediately. Sleepiness is also a problem! If you sit down and close your eyes when you’re not well rested, you fall asleep as soon as you start to relax a little bit. It’s also just hard to make the time, especially when we don’t have the most supportive conditions in our lives yet, so it’s easier to choose a more familiar activity.

Caller 2: I use visualization a lot to achieve my goals. Is there a link between that and meditation?

AS: The world of meditation can be divided into two: tranquility and insight meditation. Tranquility meditation is a conceptual practice where you take time out for visualization and repetitive chants to calm your mind in a unique and special way. Insight meditation, or mindfulness meditation, is about a moment-to-moment awareness, in tune with your surroundings, and you can use it anywhere and anytime. Visualization falls under tranquility meditation, and it’s useful in its place. Insight meditation has a profound and more immediate impact.

SF: What advice do you have for someone who’s burned out at work?

AS: The first step is to take care of yourself and come back to a neutral place before you start trying mindfulness meditation. If you take the same burnt out and stressed approach to mindfulness, it won’t work. When you create the habit of mindfulness, you can apply it to basic activities in your day. I’ve trained extensively at meditation centers, but you can do it anywhere—sitting, walking, standing. It’s the same activity whether you’re sitting in a limo or a monastery. You can learn to be mindful, bring your attention back to your body, and reset your mind at your cubicle or walking down the hall to the coffee machine. To recover, you need to learn to reset your mind and be mindful.

For more information about Andrew’s work, visit www.andrewscheffer.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 Marketing and OPIM with an International Relations minor. She also serves as a vice president for the Work/Life Integration Project Student Advisory Board.

Involved Dads Are Happy Employees — Jamie Ladge

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 Jamie Ladge, Associate Professor of Management and Organizational Development at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, which is affiliated with the Boston College Center for Work and Family.  She discussed her research on how fathers who are more involved at home have a more positive work life, which ultimately benefits their organizations.

The following are edited excerpts from their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Historically, there’s been lots of research on how work affects family life.  There’s been so much written on hours worked and the impact on family.  What inspired you to study how men’s new family roles affect aspects of their work?

Jamie Ladge: Jamie LadgeI started out focusing on women’s issues and focusing on mothers when I was a doctoral student at Boston College.  I spent years focused on issues surrounding pregnancy and the workplace and the re-entry to work after becoming a mother.  The funny story is that I got sick of people asking, What about the dad?  At every conference that I went to and every time I was at a cocktail party talking about my research, everybody wanted to know what the dad’s experience was, so we set out to determine whether their story was different from the mother’s.  Initially, we set out to explore new fathers — the experience of becoming a father — from an identity perspective and what the effects were on them personally and professionally.

SF: So you’ve been examining men’s changing role and the impact of caregiving and parenting on their more gender stereotypical role of breadwinning.  At the outset, what were you expecting to find?

JL: Frankly, I think we were expecting that not much had changed.  When I was studying moms, it seemed that nothing had changed.  Gender norms and values seemed so entrenched and deep in the heart of cultures within organizations and societies and even in our own values and beliefs. I didn’t think there was going to be much of a difference.  I thought men would still think of themselves as the breadwinners.  Based on the descriptions our participants gave, it was largely true that expectations around the breadwinning model still existed within their organizations, but the surprise was that we saw that men really desire to be more involved.  When we talked to them, they seemed to espouse a more fathering, nurturing self or identify with being a more involved father.  It seemed that these deeply entrenched gender roles prevented them from being who they hoped or wanted to be.

I think a large part of the problem is the ideal worker versus the ideal father phenomenon, and it seems to be that most of the men were caught between wanting to be a little of both.  But there were some really nice benefits experienced in becoming a father.  One individual talked about the self-discovery benefit that he developed as a result of becoming a father and really being able to think about what it meant to be a father in the context of his life as a whole.  He just felt like he was learning so much about himself through the eyes of becoming a father, caring for an infant, and thinking about prioritizing his life and family role.

SF: How did that affect his work life?

JL: He talked about feeling a lot more satisfied because he had the opportunity to be who he truly wanted to be.  Not all the men were as articulate as that, but a lot of them talked about this benefit, even feeling good in the workplace that they were able to talk about being a father and share some of these stories with their coworkers. You also see that new dads tend to get high fives for being more involved, or at least being perceived as more involved.  Certainly for those men who tried to embrace fatherhood, I think they felt a real benefit.

SF: What other benefits did you observe, in addition to the immediate social recognition and the sense of clarity of what’s important?

JL: Well, some of them may have been seen as benefits, but in some ways, they might be a little self-deprecating.  In one of the studies I conducted, an older first-time father tended to feel as though people looked at him a little more seriously now that he was a father.  I think for everyone that becomes a parent, it starts to allow you to feel like a whole person where you’re able to build on many selves, not just work, and these are men who have mostly lived for work, by and large.

SF: Did you observe benefits for the business that were economic outcomes or other outcomes that were of direct interest to the business?

JL: The benefit we found to organizations was that the more hours men spent with their children during the workday when they normally would be working, the more satisfied they were with their jobs, the less conflict they experienced, the more enriched they felt in terms of their work and family domains, and the less likely they wanted to or intended to change their jobs—those were all the positive things.  There was only one negative effect on men’s “career identity,” which refers to how much you define yourself by your work role.  This finding probably isn’t surprising given that since you’re spending more time on one domain, you’re taking away from another.

SF: Why is weaker career identity a bad thing?

JL: Well, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  When we looked at it more deeply, we found that when men felt their managers were supportive, there was actually a positive effect on career identity.  So men’s weaker career identity could be offset by perceived support of a manager.

It is important that organizations understand that it’s not a deficit for their employees to have lives outside of work.  This and other studies have shown that there are both individual and organizational benefits to providing some level of support for these individuals, both men and women.

The stigma of the working parent still exists.  We found a little bit of the stigma in our research, and I have also observed the stigma just in my own experiences.  I have three children of my own.  About a month or so ago, I was at an after-school activity where I was picking up my children, and I overheard these two men—clearly present, clearly involved fathers—who were picking up their children around 4:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon.  They seemed to know each other from a business context.  One of them asked, “Do you have that presentation that so-and-so presented?” Then the other said, “Oh no, I don’t have that—the guy’s on paternity leave.  Our paternity leave is ridiculous—he’s been on one forever.”  Then the other guy concurred and said, “We have a very generous policy too, and it’s just not fair.”  I found the situation to be ironic.  It illustrated that it’s fine to be a little involved—they obviously left work early to pick up their children from an after-school activity—but when it’s too extreme, like a paternity leave, it’s different.

SF: Interesting.  So what does that portend about how the role of fathers as caregivers is evolving in our society and in our business lives?

JL: It might just mean that we’re getting closer.  A little bit’s okay, and we just need to get that moving and get that further along and not make assumptions about men or women when they do have to take on leaves or meet their work-life challenges.  We should recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and we have to recognize that people all have different needs for different reasons.  We also found that in comparison to a lot of the research I’ve done on mothers—where mothers usually negotiate with their supervisors when they need flexibility or want time off special arrangement—the men in our study tended to do the things that aren’t seen as much.  The stigma is not as bad for working fathers when they are doing it behind the scenes, but, like I said, the people who are more extreme that take the form of paternity leave still seem out of the ordinary.

SF: Because they’re exposed, right?  You can’t be stealth if you’re out for four months.  Small doses are now more socially acceptable and even supported by businesses that you are working with or have studied.  How do you advise managers who are trying to support their employees who are young father?

JL: I think it’s just the recognition that everyone has different needs and that the overarching work-life policies only go so far.  We need to understand why these managers might be devaluing individuals’ work-life needs, so maybe part of that is working with managers to figure out different strategies and find examples that show the positive benefit to organizations.

SF: Do you have an example or story of one of the subjects in your study that comes to mind as a particularly good exemplar of this idea that investing in the father role brings business benefits?

JL: The husband of one of my co-authors on the study works for a very large investment company in the Boston area.  Our study was cited in The Wall Street Journal and that article was distributed to the entire organization to highlight the fact that we need to value the father’s role.  Of course, he was very proud that his wife was one of the authors of the study.  They have a very balanced work-life situation, maybe a little bit because of her research, but also because of how they have negotiated their own work and life and family needs.  I thought it was a really good example of an organization concerned about these issues.  Many organizations, even those that are largely male-dominated, are interested in really thinking about this issue and pursuing it further.  Perhaps another thing we can do for managers or for organizations is to provide this kind of evidence through the research.

SF: So one thing to focus on would be to educate managers on the research that you and others have done through stories of success.  What can individual fathers and their spouses do to reap the benefits of fatherhood at work?

JL: I think the stealth nature is a great approach. Maybe women should take advantage of that approach as well.  I think men should ask for what they need. They shouldn’t be afraid that they’ll be penalized for it.   But they do have to be in a work culture that supports that, so obviously it works both ways.  From the spouse viewpoint, preparation is a good thing.  While you can never prepare fully for what’s going to come your way, I think it is important to negotiate with your spouse when you’re thinking about extending your family.  Think about what the impact is going to be, and recognize that there are compromises associated with that.  Lastly, I think we, men and women, need to practice what we preach.  Men need to support other men and help each other out.  Regarding those men who I saw picking up their kids early, for example, they were demonstrating that they were involved fathers, yet they were espousing something that speaks otherwise, which is not going to help move things along.  We need to support each other and get out of our own way.

To learn more about Professor Jamie Ladge and her research on working fathers, follow her on Twitter @jladge, and read her article, “Updating the Organization Man: An Examination of Involved Fathering in the Workplace,” in Academy of Management Perspectives.

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.

The Best Strategy for Navigating at Work When You’re Pregnant: Laura Little

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. Laura Little, the director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement and an assistant professor at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. She received her MBA at the University of Texas and her PhD in organizational behavior at Oklahoma State University. She spoke with Stew about the results of a survey she conducted on the positive and negative professional images of pregnancy in the workplace.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman:  Laura, you’ve studied pregnant women and the different strategies they use for managing and maintaining their professional identities. Was the subject of this research based on experiences you’ve had in your own life?

Laura Little:Laura Little It was, yes. In my doctoral program I had two babies, which is not a normal thing in a doctoral program. It’s a time when you’re very concerned about maintaining the image that you’re a serious researcher and that you’re serious about your future career. I felt like I was constantly trying to manage that image.

SF: To whom did you have to prove your seriousness — your colleagues, your fellow doctoral students, supervisors, faculty? Which group was the most critical?

LL: Probably the faculty, even though they were very supportive. I just felt like I didn’t have a role model for this. I didn’t know how they would react. I didn’t know what they would think of having two babies in the program.

SF: So you were concerned the faculty would judge you as not really serious?

LL: Exactly, it seemed like I just couldn’t be too serious about the career that was just beginning if I was starting a family.

SF: So tell us about the research that you did. How did you set it up, what did you expect to find, and what did you discover?

LL: We started with my co-author doing a qualitative study where she was interviewing women about their experiences with pregnancy in the workplace. She interviewed 35 or so pregnant working women without any direct hypotheses. She just wanted to understand what their concerns were and to keep it open to allow the model to develop itself.  What we expected to find were concerns about identity change, about how pregnancy was affecting them internally, and how these perceptions would have an impact on the workplace. But what we found, in an overwhelming way, was that the primary concerns were outwardly focused. They were focused on their professional image and how they would be viewed at work. That was a little bit surprising, not that it was a concern, but that it was the overriding concern. I think it suggested to us that there are perhaps some issues in the way we handle pregnancy in the workplace if this is the overriding concern for most of these women.

SF: I was talking to another guest about becoming a father and all the benefits that derive from that change in status for men. How does that square with your own research and what you’ve observed?

LL: I think we do see more “Good Job!” directed towards men. And then for women there are more concerns.

SF: So there’s not a lot of high-fiving for moms when they come back from maternity leave?

LL: Well we see a stark difference between—and this maybe is true for men too—happy for you personally and happy for you professionally. And so a lot of what the women experience in the workplace is I’m happy you’re becoming a mother, but what does this mean for our organization? So it is a congratulations but not in a professional sense, and that leaves many women wanting from that standpoint.

SF: So naturally they are focused on how they are being viewed or potentially devalued?

LL: Exactly.

SF: What else can you tell us about what you discovered about how people cope?

LL: We find that there are two primary strategies, and they stem from two motives. One is to maintain your image—maintain that professional image of who you were before you got pregnant. This one has a strong driving motive. The other one is reduction of devaluation, as we call it, to try to avoid being discriminated against and to try to avoid these negative career consequences that come with pregnancy. So these are the two overwhelming motives that we see women use. What we see with women who want to continue to maintain their image is that they direct their energy in a very proactive way towards making sure they’re not viewed differently. That includes maintaining the same pace they did before they were pregnant, not requesting accommodation, going the extra mile—some of the things that I kind of described myself doing—even shortening my maternity leave. And these are very proactive behaviors aimed at not having that perception changed.

The other strategies are what we call decategorization, which is about hiding the pregnancy. So these can be literally physically hiding the pregnancy and not telling people about it or just downplaying it.  They are trying to reduce the salience of the pregnancy, not talking about it, not talking about what they’re going to do once they have their baby. We see that a fear motive—worries about negative career consequences—really drives people to behave in this way.

Interestingly we find that these two types of behaviors have very different outcomes. So we looked at it with burnout and perceived discrimination and then whether or not they go back to work. We find that the image maintenance behavior has positive consequences to reduce burnout and perceived discrimination and increase the likelihood of these women going back to work.

To learn more about Laura Little and her work, visit here.

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.

How to Focus and Be More Productive: Dr. Ned Hallowell

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 Dr. Ned Hallowell, a child and adult psychiatrist, leading authority in the field of ADHD and a former faculty member of the Harvard Medical School. He is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of the Hallowell Centers, which are located in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Dr. Hallowell spoke with Stew about his most recent book Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Dr. Hallowell, you have just published Driven to Distraction at Work, which is a super hot topic now. Everyone seems to be overwhelmed or driven to distraction. As a psychiatrist, you bring a medical perspective to this issue. So first, let’s start with what is clinical ADD? And what is run of the mill everyday distraction?

Dr. Ned Hallowell: Ned HallowellI often ask, ‘do you have true ADD or a severe case of modern life?’ Five to ten percent of the population has true ADD or ADHD.  I would say 75 to 80% have a severe case of modern life or what I call, attention deficit trait, ADT. That’s not an inborn condition. If you have true ADD, you are born with it. ADT is induced by modern life – the busyness of modern life.  In many ways, the great thing of modern life is you can do so much. But the curse of modern life is you can do so much.

If you don’t take control, then you become the victim of modern life. And instead of being wonderfully productive, you feel like you’re running around in circles, feeling kind of frazzled and frantic and frenetic and forgetful and frustrated. If you’re not careful, the world takes you over. One of the rules of modern life is if you don’t take your time, it will be taken from you.

The good news is that this is a problem everyone can solve. Every organization can solve. Every family can solve. Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, is turning that company around. A major policy he implemented that is driving the turnaround is what he calls ‘10% think time.’ He requires all his executives to spend 10% of every workweek thinking.

SF: Let’s back up for a minute: How did you get into this?  And what are the big costs that you are seeing?

NH:  I wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review called “Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform.” They told me that the biggest complaint they were getting from executives was being able to focus. And that was the genesis of this book. As you let your circuits get overloaded, you tend to underperform and you feel frustrated. Most people’s solution to everything is simply to try harder. It’s imperative that you work smarter, not harder. It means creating boundaries and prioritizing. It means clearing out time to think.

There is this massive “superficialization” of life. Relationships become ‘sound bite relationships.’

SF: What are ‘sound bite relationships’?

NH: “Hello.” “Goodbye.”  “What are we doing this weekend?” Just short-takes and no in-depth conversation or any conversation more than a minute or two.

SF: What are the consequences of this superficialization of our relationships?

NH: The human cost is less than a full and satisfying life. Economic cost is many, many, many billions of dollars. The bottom line is that it is a lot of time. The good news is that it is eminently solvable.

SF: What’s a good place to start?

NH: Start with your screens, because that is the biggest sinkhole. Look at how much you give into “screen-sucking.” Screen-sucking refers to the very common tendency of I’m just going to check my email and then you’re still there an hour later. You’re not aware of how much time you give away. The first step is to find out how much time you give away to screen-sucking.  The easiest way to become aware of that is to turn the device off and not allow yourself access to it. Step two is to reserve time to think. That can be to write a proposal, to try to work through a problem or reason your way through a personnel or marital problem you are having.  But to ponder, think, wrestle with.  Reserve an hour. Step three is taking stock – what are your priorities? You would be amazed at how many people do not know what their priorities are. So sit down and ask yourself what matters most to you.

I had one patient who called her husband’s laptop his “plastic mistress.” He was with that laptop far more than he was with his wife.

Another important intervention – watch out for the modern habit of multi-tasking. The brain cannot focus on two tasks simultaneously.

SF: What do you say to your boss who says I need you 24/7?

NH: You come as a group. The boss that insists on that is going to get fired. The idea of 24/7 is over. Management is all about brain management. How do we partition time – online, offline, available, not available? You do your best work when you’re ‘not available.’ And the enlightened managers know this. You want to begin the discussion in your organization. What is the best way to get the most out of all of our brains? Raise it as a question.

SF: Let’s talk for a minute about entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of entrepreneurial activity here at the Wharton School and around the world. What we hear from so many young people is the idea that their entrepreneurial startup is a 24/7 proposition, and that they have to be in work mode all the time. Do you work with people of that generation and in that kind of environment? And if so, how do you help them deal with distraction, overload, burnout?

NH: Yes, indeed. The book that I am working on now is about the mind of the entrepreneur. The working title is Race Car Brain: Tuning up the Mind of the Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have these race car brains.  They are incredibly fast, and they love it that way. Their challenge is learning to strengthen their brakes, learning how to plan more effectively, learning not to jump the gun, learning how to ‘ready-aim-fire’ instead of ‘fire-ready-aim.’

Keep in mind 90% of new businesses fail. The best advice you can give an entrepreneur is “don’t do it.” But, these people are un-dissuadable.

SF: What is the one best way for an entrepreneur to strengthen his or her brakes?

NH: Choose a partner wisely. Choose someone who is different than you. Someone who has good brakes and will you pull you back and say ‘let’s think about this’ before we sign on the dotted line. A big reason for failure is the two people with a great idea, both have brains with no brakes, and they blow up. Try to slow down to learn a bit.  You do not be so stubborn and headstrong that you think you have all the answers. Do not let your bravado and incredible energy burn you out, bring you down, or blow you up.

To learn more about Dr. Ned Hallowell, please check out his website and his new book Driven to Distraction at Work.

About the Author

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

Resilience: Eric Greitens

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 Eric Greitens, a former Navy Seal, Rhodes Scholar, and Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, and founder of The Mission Continues, a non-profit that helps returning veterans continue to serve in their home communities.  Eric is also the author of the New York Times best seller, The Heart and The Fist the just-released, Resilience: Hard Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Why is this book called Resilience and why did you decide to write it?

Eric Greitens: Eric GreitensI got a phone call from friend in trouble.  Zach Walker was a tough kid from a Northern California logging family.  Went through B.U.D.S. (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training) together. He graduated and went to Afghanistan on a combat deployment. He came back and became an entrepreneur. He was a good father to his two young kids, then his life was just hammered by hardship: his brother died, he lost his business, and one day he pulled his truck into his driveway, got out and dropped to the ground because he thought there was a sniper watching him.

SF: He was paranoid. He was hallucinating, perhaps.

EG: He laid there for hours and then he went into the house. He had post-traumatic stress disorder. And then Zach started drinking. And he did nothing in moderation so it was not a six pack but a cooler full of beer that he would be working through on the weekend. He called me after he’d been arrested. So now my friend who is a Navy SEAL war hero entrepreneur has now come home and is the unemployed alcoholic guy on disability who’s looking at the prospect of having his kids come to visit him in jail.

I got home that night and I wrote him a letter about resilience, about how you actually get better when things are hard. We all have times in our life when we have to deal with fear, with pain, with suffering. When you have resilience you can make it through the pain and you can actually become wiser. You can confront fear and become more courageous. You can move through suffering and become stronger. We all know people who’ve been broken by tragedy but you can also be strengthened by it.

The book is 23 letters to my friend which draws on a lot of ancient wisdom about how we can approach things that are hard and actually use those as opportunities for growth and to become stronger.

SF: So what’s the purpose of the book? Why publish the letters?

EG: I want everybody to know there’s hope and that you can build resilience. You’re not stuck with how much resilience you have or don’t have. This is a virtue you can build in your life and there are a lot of really practical things that you can do. Zach told me that the process, these letters, really saved his life. If this can be helpful to other people who are in tough spots — and it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Zach’s. When people retire they often wonder ‘what do I do next?’ When people go through a job transition or when things are difficult at work or at home – everybody faces different kinds of hardship – and hopefully this can be helpful to them as well.

SF: So what happened to Zach?

EG: He found that the process of reading the letters and reflecting on them created a lot of clarity in his own mind. Each letter addresses a different thing that you can do in your life to build resilience. For example, there was a letter about how you build purpose in the face of pain. We can always bear hardship better when there’s a reason behind it; when we know why we’re moving through it. And one of the things Zach was struggling with was the lack of sense of purpose. He’d been a Navy SEAL and every day he woke up and he had a mission to conduct and a team around him and all of a sudden all of that had been taken away. We talked about how you could start to build that.  And what’s really cool is that he did! He did a number of different things: he did some counseling, he did some volunteer work at his church. And what really ‘caught’ for him is that he’s coaching. He coached football last season. I just spoke with him this Sunday and he’s coaching a baseball team of kids. They’ve got their home opener in a couple of weeks and he’s doing really well because he figured out to build purpose.

There’s a chapter, for example, about responsibility. How you get rid of excuses and take control of your life even when everything seems out of control. He took each letter, now each chapter, and digested it, thought about how it applied to his own life and then, took action.

SF: So how do you get someone to take responsibility especially when in state of mind of not really being fully able to listen?

EG: You are not responsible for everything that happens to you, but you are responsible for how you react to what happens to you. If you’re going to ask somebody a single question to measure how resilient they’re likely to be, the question that you want to ask them is, ‘what are you responsible for?’ You find that the more responsibility people take, the more resilient they’re likely to be. And the analogy that I used for Zach:  I said, “Remember when [in the Navy SEAL training] they taught us how to survive if we were ever taken prisoner of war? Remember how they said that you can have your freedom taken away, your ability to stand, you have no control over your food, your schedule, your sleep, but what they taught you is you can still maintain control over your thoughts. You can maintain control over the way that you breathe?” And what people do in tough situations where everything seems out of control is they figure out what they can control and then they start to take ownership of that.

And then we started to talk about a really important piece, and you and I have talked about this in the past, is why excuses take hold and how you get rid of those.

SF: So how do you go from a victim mindset to one of having a sense of control?

EG: Excuses take hold because we use them and other people offer them to us because they prevent pain. People use excuses because they work! Something comes in and it looks like it’s going to be kind of hard and somebody makes an excuse. It’s kind of like putting on armor; it shields you from pain. Then something else comes in and you put on another sheet of armor and it does protect you. That’s true. But what also happens is that you can’t live a full life. How well can you run when you’re wearing armor? Or how well can you swim? How well can you hug your kids? So while it protects you in the short term, over the long term these excuses actually prevent you from living a full and flourishing life.

People can take away a lot of things from you. They can take away your home. They can take away your freedom. They can take away your material possessions. But no one can take away your excuses. You have to give those up yourself or not at all. And he took responsibility for his own life, let some of those excuses go and he started to push himself and to take responsibility.

SF: How do you get past doubt and fear to a point where you can let go of the armor of excuse and assume responsibility for what you can control? What’s the first step toward that more hopeful life-fulfilling direction?

EG: There are five key mental toughness techniques that people can use in the face of fear.  One that was relevant to Zach was that he was worried all the time:  “How am I going to support my family? Should I go back to school? Would I be able to make it?”  He was worried about his sense of identity; he used to be a Navy SEAL and everybody admired him “and now look at me.” He had all of these worries in his life and friends, family and doctors were saying, “Don’t worry so much. You don’t need to be worried.” And that’s advice we hear in our culture but it’s usually terrible advice because you’re going to worry! And now you just feel bad about the fact that you’re worrying!

You have to learn how to worry productively. If you go back to the Stoics, 2000 years ago they had a practice called the pre-meditation of evils. Marcus Aurelius, for example, in his meditations he quotes Epictetus who says that every night when you kiss your children you should say to yourself they may not be here in the morning. That was their reality 2000 years ago. The likelihood was that your kid might not make it past age 5. So what the Stoics did, not just with their kids but with everything, they allowed themselves purposefully to think about things that might go wrong. But instead of thinking about this in an endless loop of worry what you do, in the pre-meditations of evil, is the practice we call rehearsal.  You imagine:  “how will I react if this thing goes wrong?  How will if find my way through? And then if I react there, and something else goes wrong, then how will I react to that?” You purposefully imagine yourself all the way through difficulty until you get to a place where you’ve achieved excellence.

Athletes do this, Navy SEALS do this when practicing for physical things. But you can use this premeditation of evil in every practice.  You could use this when you’re heading into an interview. You feel your heart start to beat and that nervousness comes. Imagine what will you do then, what will you do to regain control over yourself? How will you be calm? That’s just one technique. But it’s really important to learn how to confront fear productively.

SF: So what’s the first step out of doldrums?

EG: You need to take positive action that rooted in your identity. The problem today (and for Zach) is that our culture has flipped the way we used to think about actually achieving success. Today there’s too often an emphasis on feeling. The first question people ask is “How are you feeling? How does it feel to you? How’s your job? How are classes?”  The trap there is that you start to believe that if you feel a certain way, then you should act a certain way. And then, of course, the way that you act actually shapes who you are, your character, your identity. Broadly speaking, in the ancient world they flipped that on its head. What Aristotle said was,  “You know what the good thing is by seeing what the good person does.” You look for a model to create an identity for yourself and then you say,  “if I want to be that kind of person, how should I act?” And then you act that way. And then the way you act, of course, shapes how you feel.

In the Chapter on Identity I asked Zach, who do you want to be? He was able to say I want to be this kind of father, I want to be this kind of husband,  I want to be this kind of leader in my community. And then we created models for him to follow and he took positive action. That was how it started. He grabbed onto this sense of identity.  And I should say: None of this is magic. All of this is hard, struggling work that he had to do, but he did it and he got out.

SF: So what about models? You were there for him, you challenged him and gave him ideas.  Is it necessary to have someone helping you?

EG: I think it is necessary and it’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, so that people could read it and they’d have, hopefully, a friend who’s asking them these hard questions that they can reflect on. That’s what people used to think Philosophy was for. Now when we think about Philosophy we think of it as something that happens in classrooms. It used to be that Philosophy was a shared endeavor and it was not so much about sitting and thinking as it was about thinking and living. You measured a Philosopher by the impact they had on their students. So Cato, who never wrote, was considered a Philosopher. Marcus Aurelius, who only wrote in his private diary, was considered a Philosopher. This is an old practice of how you have friends help you to live a good life.

In terms of Models: I said to Zach, “if I brought you a giant bag full of jigsaw puzzle pieces and I said you have to put the puzzle together then what would you ask for?” And Zach said, “I’d ask for a picture.” Of course!  You want to know what you’re trying to make. The thing is life only hands you pieces. But you have the opportunity to pick a picture.

Zach was talking about his brother dying, losing his business and more. I said, look I have two brothers, they’re both alive. I don’t what it’s like to lose a brother but I know there are many people who have lost loved ones and have been able to deal with it. You need a model for that. Is there a person you know who’s lost their brother and who you admire how they dealt with it?

SF: So, you’re looking for someone is similar circumstance who found a way to thrive?

EG: Exactly, an entrepreneur who had post-traumatic stress syndrome, somebody else who was struggling but became a great father. Let’s look for those models and then when we see how other people have dealt with what we now have to face it often gives us confidence about what we can create in our own lives.

SF: It takes a dialogue that is rooted in identity and real action. I know you’ve done this kind of outreach before. What motivates you to do this kind of work as a philosopher yourself?

EG: In the beginning this was just my buddy who needed help. And Zach was a guy who always took care of me when I was going through the SEAL team training. We took care of each other. Then he calls me and he’s in trouble. I said, “Come on, man, I can help you here.”  And he wrote back to me. And just like any endeavor where we find we’re being of service, we learned so much from it. It, of course, made me a stronger person as well, the process of writing the book.

SF: What’s the hoped for impact?

EG: I’m hoping that for other people that are in a tough spot, or whose friends or family members are in a tough spot I really hope that this book will be hopeful. In the sense that they see that there are really practical things that they can do to build resilience in their lives. This is NOT easy. It’s tough to build virtues. It’s tough to move through hardship. It’s tough to change the course of your life. But it is possible to do. And I think because it draws on a lot of wisdom from our religious and philosophical traditions about how we do this in our lives in a practical way I hope that it will give people hard-won and real lasting hope.

SF: How might this apply to organizations? To society? What can companies be doing to build resilience in their employees?

EG: One, is, just like with individuals, you have to take responsibility to be resilient. When you have a community or company where people are in the habit of saying I am responsible for this, it leads to resilience. The big distinction I make is between the morality of intentions vs. the morality of results.  People say, “I really wanted to help. I was thinking of helping.” The example I share is I have an 8 month son at home and when Sheena [my wife] asks me, “Did you feed the Joshua?” I don’t get to say, “I wanted to feed the baby. It was really important to me.”  No, you either did it or you didn’t do it. And too often the morality of intentions says that what matters is what I say or intend, not the result that I created in the world. People who are resilient pay a lot of attention to the actual results that they create in the world. And because they’re always paying attention to the feedback that that get it creates a kind of humility. And at the same time enables a kind of boldness because they see the actual results that they’re getting. And really great leaders in organizations model that kind of responsibility.

SF: Can you give an example? What’s a good model?

EG:  Obviously you get great examples of this in the military.  One of the things that you saw in the military, especially the Navy, was a ceremony called the Change of Command ceremony. At a very particular instant in time one captain of a ship, for example, passes responsibility, hands over command, to another captain. And at that moment the new captain is immediately responsible for everything that happens on that ship. And there’s no sense where any Navy captain would ever say, “Well, you know, I really wanted to do this, but I got handed a bad deal or was handed bad cards or I’m going to blame something on my predecessor.”  There’s an immediate sense that you are responsible for everything that happens on your ship.  And I saw that kind of leadership in the military and I think that’s one of the things that helped us to maintain resilient communities in the field teams and beyond.

SF: What about for society? I know you have plans for potential service in public office. What are the priorities for us as a nation?

EG: For us to build the kind of political culture that we need to build resilience we have to look back.  America has always been a resilient country. Perhaps one of the most resilient in the history of the world. And one of the reasons why we were resilient in the past was precisely this thing that we’re talking about – you had leaders who took responsibility. It engendered a tremendous amount of trust and confidence in government even when people disagreed with the individual decisions that leaders were making.

For example, Harry Truman had the lowest approval ratings of any President that we have ever measured – 22% toward the end of his term. And this was because he made tough decisions. He fired McArthur. That was unpopular. He promoted the Marshall Plan which was initially unpopular. He did a lot of unpopular things but at the same time as his personal approval ratings was in the low 20%, Americans’ confidence in government was in the high 70% low 80% because he was saying, “the buck stops here.”

And in that same way you John F. Kennedy in the Bay of Pigs — he took responsibility. People knew he was taking responsibility for the Cuban Missile Crisis. The classic example of Dwight Eisenhower, when he was General Eisenhower, writing a letter of resignation in case D-Day went wrong saying that he was going to take responsibility for it. So there was this sense that you had leaders who grew out of this culture of saying, “I’m responsible for results.”

What makes people despondent is not so much when there’s something really hard in front of them, it’s when they feel like there’s powerlessness and people at the top aren’t taking responsibility.

SF: So how are you going to change that?

EG: I’ve set up an exploratory committee for the Governorship of Missouri. A lot of people are saying that we need a new approach. We need some innovative ideas. That’s what I’m looking at right now.

SF: What’s your hope? What would be your priority if you get there?

EG:  One of the things that we’re doing is building a vision for the State for people buy into and to generate a sense of well-founded excitement and hope. I think that you have to have a vision. What I’m doing is visiting farms and businesses and schools and prisons to actually meet people who are solving real problems and putting their hands on things. I think that if you bring a kind of nuts and bolts leadership perspective to this you start to see what it is that needs to be done.

To learn more about Eric Greitens, go to www.ericgreitens.com and 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.

Does Your Boss Control Your Schedule? Is That Really Flexibility?

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 Susan Lambert, an Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Lambert is a leading expert on employer practices and employment conditions in low-level hourly jobs and how employers’ scheduling practices matter for worker well-being and family economic security.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Everyone’s clamoring for more flexible work schedules.—not just women, but young men, young fathers, the generation of folks who now find they need to provide eldercare for their aging parents.  But is flex-time the answer, or is this allowing employers to create an unpredictable environment with negative spillover effects on families?

Susan Lambert: Susan Lambert April 2014I think we need to be careful with the term “flexibility” today, and to consider who owns “flexibility.” Employers talking about flexible labor practices are focusing on variability, being able to vary the hours their employees work. The employees think about flexibility in terms of control.

SF: We’ve heard stories in the media of people’s lives being disrupted due to the unpredictable nature of their schedules. What prospects for change do you see?

SL: I am heartened and dismayed.  I’m heartened by the fact that these sorts of practices are becoming part of the public discourse and that there is legislative action about this issue.  But dismayed that these kind of practices seem so widespread in the economy today and that there is a lot of instability in people’s lives as a result of these employer “flexibility” practices. For example, my colleagues and I study low-level sales associate jobs, where not only the timing of work (a day shift or a night shift) but the days that you work might vary from week to week. You only get your schedule the day before you’re scheduled to work.

SF: So how can you plan for your family, community, and personal activities?

SL: Our research and worker’s groups report that it’s very difficult to plan anything! Unpredictability makes it difficult for parents to plan and engage in important child development activities, such as monitoring homework, reading bedtime stories, and cooking meals at home.

SF: What is it going to take to gain a greater access to control over work schedules?

SL: There are limits to how much this schedule variability benefits employers. There are costs to that level of employee instability. You get high rates of turnover. Employers are going to have to reconsider and see if they can balance the need for some amount of flexibility in the staffing level with building employee stability. We’ve done some analyses with data from 80 stores of a national women’s apparel firm, and we looked at how much demand for staff varied over every week in 2012. For about 25% of the stores the demand varied by 30% from the busiest to the slowest week in the store. That’s a lot. But for the majority of stores, 70% of hours stayed the same across weeks and months. Store managers are held accountable for staying within a certain amount of hours  — that’s the ratio of their sales to their staffing level.   They get in trouble for exceeding that. So they delay staffing schedules until the last minute. This is all over the place in retail, package handling, and even financial services.

SF: And how are workers responding? What about the law?

SL: We often find that jobs are bifurcated. Employers often have a core set of workers that get regular hours and steady schedules. They are treated differently from other “disposable” workers who have similar responsibilities. It’s a disruption into lives and communities and has a ripple effect.

There a number of efforts by workers in the country, such as the Retail Action Project in New York. Walmart just announced that they are going to provide stable schedules and more predictable working hours. We also need to expand the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was put into law in 1938 with only a few modifications since. Those laws are only basic protections from inherent risks of an industrial labor market. That’s where we get minimum wage and overtime pay.  But there’s nothing guaranteeing workers a minimum number of hours. Employers are currently free to hire people and provide no hours at all. We see people get two hours one week and 25 the next.

SF: Do you think that a change in legislation is likely?

SL: Yes! The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved the Retailers Bill of Rights, which includes advance notice. It has a provision to offer more hours to existing staff before hiring someone new. Minnesota issued legislation relating to scheduling issues this week. Vermont already has the right to request flexibility, and Connecticut, Michigan, and California have local and state level legislation trying to set some of these new standards.

SF: What’s the most important thing listeners should know about this critical topic?

SL: That these practices are affecting worker’s rights in our own offices, not across the street.  It’s the custodian in your own workplace. It’s not somebody else’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.

Here’s more on Precarious Scheduling Practices among Early Career Employees in the US.

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 Marketing and OPIM with an International Relations minor. She also serves as a vice president for the Work-Life Integration Project Student Advisory Board.

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.