March 20, 2015

On International Day of Happiness, lots to think about

Happy

 

 

Today is International Day of Happiness and it's making me wonder: Is there too much pressure on us to be happy?

The prior generations worked hard at home, in manufacturing plants, in offices. They found happiness in small moments when family or friends were gathered around the dinner table or sitting out on the porch. Today, we're so busy. There is so much pressure on us to make money, eat healthy, exercise, respond to what's on our smartphones. We're supposed to do everything on our to-do lists, help solve world problems, raise super-motivated kids and be super happy.

Have we set ourselves up to fall short?

I just read an article in the New York Times about a new play on Broadway, a revival of Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles. The headline of the article read: A Debate of the '80s, Motherhood vs. Career, Still Resonates. Even as more women work than stay at home, we still are debating whether we can have it all. We have put tremendous pressure on ourselves to have amazing work lives and happy home lives. 

And, on top of that, we can't even manage to allow ourselves time off to take real vacations. 

“Americans are among the world’s worst vacationers,” said John de Graaf, President of Take Back Your Time. “According to U.S. Travel Association, some 40 percent of Americans leave an average of seven or more days of paid vacation on the table every year."

Why can't we slow down and allow ourselves to be happy? Is our struggle for work life balance standing in the way of our happiness?

We need to look at what's standing in the way of our happiness in our personal and wife lives.  It requires introspection and maybe some rethinking of the definition of happiness.

Experts tell us the obstacle to a happier life could be ourselves, or someone else. In the workplace, we tend to be unhappy when we clash with our boss or co-worker. At home we tend to be unhappy when our expectations from our friends, relatives or children aren't met.

Regardless, we have the power to improve the lines of communication, lower our expectations, and tell others what we need from them. 

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, believes we can tinker with our small habits to create more happiness in our lives. I think we can all be happier if we stop putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect, happy people who are elated and confident every moment of every day.

On this International Day of Happiness, I'm issuing all of you a challenge: Come up with one small change you can make that will increase your level of happiness. Take a vacation day, refuse to let a co-worker ruin your work experience, ask your spouse for help with chores, take up a new hobby, allow yourself to make mistakes. Most important, notice when you are happy and recreate that experience as often as possible.

I'm planning to allow myself time each day to power down and live in the moment. I'm convinced that will help me feel happier.

What are your thoughts on happiness?

Are too many of us just getting through our lives without examining whether we are happy? If you've made a change that has increased your happiness level, please share!

March 18, 2015

Pat Pineda: How She Got to the Top at Toyota

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At 63, Patricia Salas Pineda is a bundle of energy as she runs around Miami this week representing Toyota at one of the nation's largest Hispanic events, Hispanicize. This mother of three has spent 30 years at Toyota and holds a key spot as one of the highest ranking women and THE highest ranked Hispanic at the company. She is in Miami because she leads the Hispanic Business Strategy Group, which focuses on strengthening Toyota's already existing ties to the Latin community.

Pat talked with me about how she got to the top of her company and offered advice to other women.

Most important, she says, plotting a successful career path involves being open to opportunities within different areas of a company. In her case, during her 30 years at Toyota, she has held positions in the legal department, with the Toyota Foundation and now she is group vice president of Hispanic business strategy for Toyota Motor North America  “I feel fortunate to have spent my career with a company that supported my career and offered me different opportunities.”

Pineda says she became a Latina executive in an industry where there were very few women holding senior positions. Some acquaintances called her a “trailblazer.” Her family and friends used another word to describe my career choice: “crazy.”

I prodded Pat to find out just how she managed the climb at Toyota while raising three children.

This trailblazer was with Toyota a decade before having children, which she says allowed her to prove herself and become confident in her role. “I was one of the first female managers and proud to be among a group of women throughout Toyota’s companies who were moving up through the ranks.”

Having help at home and a supportive husband who worked from home helped with the work life juggle. “It made my situation much easier. But that’s not to say it was without challenges.” Her children now are 28, 27 and 22 and she’s optimistic about other women at her company successfully balancing work and family. “It is possible to enjoy a family life and have a successful career.” 

Pat sees positive changes ahead for working parents, particularly because of the mindset of young managers in her workplace. “The younger men want to be more engaged fathers. They are less reluctant about taking time to go to their son or daughter’s event. I think that’s helpful because they are more sensitive to others with demands at home.”

In her rise to leadership, Pat was guided by male mentors inside and outside of her company. She came in contact with those outside her company through board positions. “Serving on external boards gave them an opportunity to observe me in action. They were able to help me obtain other key board positions.”

Today, Pat serves on the Board of Directors for Levi Strauss & Co. and is a Corporate Advisory Board Member for National Council of La Raza and an Alumni Trustee for The Rand Corporation.

With the benefit of hindsight, Pat says she would tell young mothers not to worry about what others might think about their choices. She remembers worrying about who might see her leaving for a medical appoint or whether to work from home because it was the nanny’s day off. “I wish I had worried less because it was really unnecessary.”

By staying with Toyota, Pat has brought the company tremendous value. She was chosen as one of the 25 most powerful Latinas by People en Español in 2014: “Across the roles I have had, I've been good at developing external relationships that have been helpful to the company.” Her relationships span from the Hispanic community, to the non-profit world, to elected officials to the media. “I have shared with them the wonderful things Toyota is doing. I think that’s why the company has been so supportive.”

Often, Pat finds herself counseling young mothers who are thinking of leaving the workplace. “I tell them, 'don’t make that decision now.' ” Most women have thanked her for encouraging them to “hang in there” and have gone on to success in their jobs. “That’s not to say staying doesn’t have consequences but I think a lot of women make that decision sooner than is prudent.”

 

Pat Pineda’s Career Climb From present to past:

* Group vice president of Hispanic business strategy for Toyota Motor North America, Inc. She leads the Hispanic Business Strategy Group (HBSG), which focuses on strengthening Toyota's already existing ties to the Latin community

* Head of the Toyota U.S.A. Foundation, overseeing national philanthropy efforts

* Toyota Motor North America group vice president of corporate communications and general counsel.

* Vice president of human resources, government and legal affairs and corporate secretary for New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), the corporate joint venture between Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors Corporation,

 

March 13, 2015

Would you want a work life do-over? Hitting a milestone birthday

  50

This weekend I hit a huge milestone in life. I’m turning 50! 

That sounds old, doesn’t it?

Turning 50 marks a shift – physically and emotionally: My back aches a little. My flexibility is not what it was just a decade ago. My children are growing up, my parents are growing old and my home is getting emptier.

On the up side, I’m alive, healthy, working and happily married.

I look around and I see people accomplishing amazing feats in their later years of life. They are starting businesses, mentoring young professionals and advancing in their companies. They are traveling, taking up new hobbies and enjoying their romantic relationships in ways they didn’t have time for while raising their young children or that they put off for later.

Seeing others embrace their senior years has inspired me. When I recently read this week about Patrick Pichette, the 52-year old CFO of Google, who unexpectedly said he was retiring to get to the fun stuff he kept putting off for later in life, I understood where he was coming from.

Like most people my age, I have more wrinkles than I did a few years ago. I’m not going to lie, that bothers me.  But I also have a lot more confidence, direction and a new appreciation for the people in my life. 

After 50 years, I know now that fun and happiness are ageless. Betty While sure looks like she’s having a great time! At 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage, fulfilling her longtime dream -- and she's has lots more on her bucket list.

When I look at my peers, I see how easy it can be to get caught up in our Inboxes, our social media accounts, our work projects, and let the stress of our jobs overwhelm us. With half a century behind me, I’m beginning to realize life is too short to waste time being stressed or unsure of our priorities.

I ask myself: If offered a do over, would I take it? The answer is no. 

By now, I also have learned that life is not fair, that awful things happen to wonderful people and sometimes even courage and will power aren’t enough to defeat the odds. It’s that perspective that makes work life balance worth striving to obtain!

 

When I blow out the candles on my birthday cake, I will appreciate the blessings in my life and look forward to the great years ahead. There are no do-overs but there are all kinds of opportunities for 50 years olds who are open to taking them. That will be me, and if you’re creeping up on 50 -- or hitting another milestone in your life --  I hope it will be you too.

 

February 16, 2015

Stressed at the office? How to use mindfulness at work

Today I'm enjoying a day off for President's Day. I plan to stay in the moment with my kids, enjoy the beautiful South Florida weather and make the most of the day because it's so easy to let the stress of work take over our lives.

My guest blogger today provides some great insight into staying in the moment through a practice called mindfulness, giving us tips on how to use it in the workplace to stay zen instead of stressed. Charles A. Francis is the author of Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace (Paradigm Press), and co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. He also leads workshops and mindfulness meditation retreats through his company, MindfulnessMeditationInstitute.org.

These are simple techniques he shares but they can make a big difference in how we feel about work life balance.

Charles A FrancisHeadshot

4 Ways Mindfulness Can Beat Workplace Stress -- It’s as Easy as Taking a Walk

Workplace stress is an epidemic. The World Health Organization calls it a leading health problem in the United States. Stress takes a toll on productivity, memory, and concentration, and can trigger health, mental and emotional problems, turning a day at the office into an anxiety-ridden routine. But employees can break that pattern by practicing Mindfulness, even for a mere ten minutes, just a few times a week. It’s as simple as changing the way one breathes, walks, listens, and talks.

Mindfulness is a 2,500-year-old practice that trains the mind to become calm and focused. Based on straightforward techniques, it doesn’t take years to master. Employees can practice it during the most basic activities at work. Not only will it quiet the mind and improve performance and concentration, it has a great effect on office dynamics as well.

Here are four simple tips for beating workplace stress:

Take a breath.

Mindful Breathing slows down those racing thoughts and moments of agitation. It can be done anywhere, at anytime. First, stop what you’re doing. Then, take three to five breaths. As you take each breath, pay close attention, shutting out thoughts of anything else. Focus on the feeling of the air you’re breathing in and breathing out.  Count each breath. It will put you back in the moment, but in much calmer state.

Go for a walk.

We walk way more than we think we do, even at work. Practice Mindful Walking, and every walk you take is a chance to get calm and centered. Heading to the water cooler? As you walk, focus on each step, shutting out the rest of the world. Focus on the way your foot falls, and on the time it takes. Do this for three to ten steps, counting as you walk and being deeply aware of each step. And slow down: by slowing down your body, you force your mind to follow.

Listen closely.

Stephen Covey once said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Deep Listening radically improves communication as we learn to focus on the conversation, instead of being distracted by second-guessing or getting a word in edgewise. First, start by looking into other people’s eyes as they’re talking. Pay close attention to what they’re saying. Fight the temptation to let your mind wander. By showing sincere interest in what the other person is saying, you’re also doing wonders for the relationship.

Choose words carefully.

The consequences of saying something thoughtless or regretful can be profound in the work environment. Mindful Speech is a way to choose the words that can create harmony instead. When responding to what someone’s just said, take a moment to reconsider the words you’ve chosen. Ask yourself: Are my words too reactive? Are they going to worsen an already tense situation? Try to choose words that are respectful, and kind. Just like Deep Listening, Mindful Speech can help heal the stressful workplace, replacing tension with transformation.

 

 

February 13, 2015

When your friend experiences heartbreak

This morning, I am in shock. My friend's son killed himself. He was only 20.

What do you say to a mother or father who gets that news? There are no words. 

As we run around, worrying about answering an email or returning a phone call, we forget that the routine tasks on our plates mean little when it comes to losing someone you love. There is nothing that can replace that hole.

Some days, it's really hard to disconnect from work. Some days, we're tired of our commute, our boss, our customers, our lack of work life balance. It is those days that make the quality time we spend with our children, our partners, our parents more valuable.

My friend may never understand why this tragedy occurred. But she will always wish she could have done more. She will think of every time she hugged her child, every moment she spent with him and wish there were more.

So, for all of us who have more time with our loved ones, let's disconnect this weekend. Let's not worry about the customer or supervisor who is giving us aggravation or the emails we need to answer. Let's put our mobile devices in our pockets and leave them there. It's Valentine's weekend and the best time ever to show love to those you care about by giving them what most of us want the most -- our undivided attention.

My heart aches for my friend who has been clutching her son's photo since learning of the news. She has experienced the kind of perspective no one should have to endure. I know there is nothing I can do for her right now. It's a helpless feeling. So, for her and the other parents who have been in her shoes, let's make the most of our Valentine's Day and be present. Single or married, kids or no kids, we all have people in our lives we love  - let's show them through our actions. As my grieving friend as learned, roses and chocolates are nice but they pale in comparison to real conversation and a big hug.

 

February 05, 2015

Could you do business only by email?

Last week, I called Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom in Seattle to talk to him about an opinion piece he wrote on overwork and work life balance. Jayson didn't want to speak to me on the phone and asked me to send my questions by email. He told me he does business almost completely by email and reference this Forbes article he wrote:  Email Only: 10 Reasons Why Phone Calls Are a Waste of Time

For a journalist, corresponding by email is tricky. It's way too easy for email responses to sound stiff when they appear in the paper and it's really difficult to ask follow up questions. At this point, I became fascinated by how Jayson manages to do all his business by email. I read Jayson's thoughts on why considers phone calls a waste of time and went ahead and sent Jayson my questions. I  waited about a day and a half for his response. Here are my questions and his answers:

  JaysonIf you rely mostly on email, doesn’t that make it more difficult to disconnect? Will you really be willing to pause your inbox?

(Jayson) For me, it's easy to disconnect -- all emails are work-related (nobody non-work related sends me email; they text me or call me). So when the workday is over, I simply pause my inbox, turn off my computer, and walk out of the office. It's simple, easy, and effective.

 When you haven’t responded to an email, or expect an answer through email, are you able to go home and not think about work?

(Jayson) It depends on the situation, but major problems or obstacles do tend to follow me home after work. However, that's life for an entrepreneur (and just about any professional who takes their work very seriously). There are ways to get your mind off work, such as video games, watching TV, playing with your dog, or spending quality time with your friends and family. 

 Have you ever sent an email that was misinterpretted?

(Jayson) Yes; I send and receive around 2,000 emails every week, and some are misinterpreted. 

In regards to small talk, isn’t it small talk that builds relationships, collaboration and even problem resolution? How do you accomplish that through email?

Small talk can certainly build relationships. As for collaboration, I often find that small talk doesn't advance a collaborative effort; it hinders it. Email, for me, is much more effective for problem resolution than any other method. It allows each party to be thorough, detailed, and clear. It also creates an archive of the conversation for later reference for each party. Phone calls often require one or both parties to send a "summary" email of the things that were discussed on the call; so why not just start with an email?

 Do you ever feel like people send out a bunch of back and forth emails when a matter can be quickly resolved by a phone conversation ?

Yes, that can happen.

Do you ever get frustrated when you send an email and don’t get a response? How do you handle that?

I wouldn't say I get frustrated, but I never let it fall through the cracks. I use a plugin for Gmail called Boomerang for Gmail which reminds you after a set amount of time if the recipient fails to reply to your email. 

 How much of your business would you say you do by email?

99%

 

I found Jayson's "Email Only" business philosophy so fascinating that I asked Alex Funkhouser, an tech recruiter and owner of SherlockTalent, for his thoughts. He said he could see email for some purposes, but he tries to steer away from email for important conversations: “People often make business decisions through emotions, email is a poor communicator of emotion.”

Soon after, Alex's friend, Bernie Cronin, called me to tell me he had a strong opinion on "email only" for business. Bernie, a longtime sales professional and sales management trainer, is a big phone guy. He wrote an article called Pick Up The Telephone (PUTT). 

Bernie says the telephone is more effective today than it has ever been because so few people know how to use it effectively.

Writes Bernie: Remember, 38% of our communication is our tonality, how we speak and how we sound. In fact, when you PUTT and get someone’s Voice Mail that can be a friend. Why? Because their message and it’s tonality can tell you a great deal about that person’s speech pattern. Do they speak fast, slow, soft, loud, are they Bernie or Bernard etc. Wouldn’t you like to be 38% more effective than you are today?.....then Pick Up The Telephone. In golf, they say “Drive for show and Putt for dough.” I say, in business, “email for show and PUTT (pick up the telephone) for dough.” 

What are your thoughts on doing business by email only? Do you agree more with Jayson or Bernie? Do you think doing most of your business by email would make you more or less effective? Would it help with work life balance or make it more challenging to disconnect from the office?

 

February 03, 2015

How a beauty queen handles work life balance

It might seem glamorous being a beauty pageant winner. But once that sash goes on, it's a title and a job. There are responsibilities involved and charity events to attend that often conflict with raising a family. My guest blogger today has been involved in beauty pageants since age 12 and gives us a glimpse into what her life is like as Mrs. South Florida International. 

 

Lindsey


By Lindsey Berman (www.lindseyberman.com

One word comes to mind when I look at my day-to-day obligations and responsibilities to my husband, three small children and carrying the title of Mrs. South Florida International  --  priorities. I am lucky to have a steadfast support system and have no problem having my kids in tow for appropriate charitable commitments.

I’m happy to say that when it comes to my personal life my husband and I run a pretty tight ship. We keep our life simple and focus on the good. It may seem like a lot for one person to juggle, but I like to keep my demeanor cool, personality agile and simply roll with the punches. By nature I am a very organized person, have always enjoyed multi-tasking. I don’t mind asking for help when I need it and at the end of the day, I realize I am only human.

You will most likely see me on the fields during the weekends, with my oldest two children being quite active in youth sports. “There’s nothing better than cheering your child on and seeing their face full of excitement as they score a goal or hit a home run!” 

I fully acknowledge that only so much can get done in one day and that helps me from feeling overwhelmed from time to time. I am not going to say there aren’t those moments where I am rushing around trying to figure out how I am going to get it all done.

However, I have found that keeping a clear perspective about what’s important and knowing that I get to participate in making a difference in the lives of people actually keeps me going.  I feel honored to be chosen to carry handle this task. Some days it feels like work, but most days I know how lucky I am. I feel gratitude from every aspect of my life. This is what I do and it’s something I pursue with genuine dedication and earnest passion. 

 

Here are a few questions I asked Lindsey:

(Cindy) What are the requirements as Mrs. South Florida International?

(Lindsey)  As Mrs. South Florida International I will be competing for the Mrs. Florida International pageant May 29-31, when all the state finalists will be judged on Interview, Fitness Wear, Evening Wear and our ability to eloquently answer On-Stage Questions.
 
(Cindy) Has it been more time consuming than expected?
 
(Lindsey) When I decided to represent South Florida in the Mrs. Florida International pageant, I made a commitment to truly make a difference in my community and ultimately throughout the state. It was a decision I did not make lightly because I knew how time consuming it would be. Although my community involvement and charity work is time consuming, for me it is more of a way of life. I am passionate about keeping kids safe through education to decrease preventable injuries. I truly enjoy being able to make a difference in the community. The more you give back, the more rewarding it is.
 
(Cindy) For how long do you hold the title?
 
(Lindsey) If I am fortunate enough to win the Mrs. Florida International title, I will hold it for a full year and ultimately compete for the Mrs. International title in July 2015.
 
(Cindy)How many years have you been involved in pageants?
 
(Lindsey) I started doing pageants in high school and held the titles of Miss Florida Junior Teen and Miss Florida Teen for the American Co-ed pageant system. Pageant weekends were a special time for my mom and I to spend quality time together and go on trips that truly made us the best friends we are today! I not only enjoy pageants as a contestant, but had a wonderful experience as Producer of the Miss Florida Gator and Miss University of Florida for two years while I was in college. I believe in everything that pageants have to offer girls and women of all ages, and I am the accomplished and confident woman I am today because of my involvement.
 
(Cindy) What don’t people know about being a pageant winner?
 
(Lindsey) I believe there is a big misconception about pageant winners with most people looking at them as just a pretty face that won a competition. In reality, titleholders are inspiring women working to make a difference. For me personally, pageants are not about winning a beautiful crown and holding a prestigious title, but about being a role model for others and making a positive impact in the community. I work tirelessly to give back to the community and be a voice for many worthy causes.
 
(Cindy) What do you want your kids to know about charity work?
 
(Lindsey) I strive to teach my children the importance of community involvement. Not only is giving back to your community simply the right thing to do, but it touches and changes your life along with the lives of others. My children are very involved in my charitable work, often making appearances with me. They even host their own fundraisers. We have made it a family tradition that instead of having traditional birthday parties, they host a children’s party where we collect items in need and donate them to local charities.

January 19, 2015

Former lawyer says work life balance is not impossible

Today my guest blogger is Yuliya I. LaRoe, founder of Confident Entrepreneur Business & Leadership Coaching. LaRoe is originally from Vladivostok, Russia. She immigrated to the US in 1997 and quickly set her sights on becoming a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Southern California Law School, she spent about 8 years working as a business and international law attorney in a large law firm in Los Angeles. I found her perspective on work life balance interesting and wanted to share it with all of you.

 

YuliyaMy pursuit for the "perfect" balance between work and life started with my first job as a lawyer. The realization of how hard it was to juggle work assignments with family obligations and still wanting to spend time with friends, on hobbies and to travel (which I love) was a bit of shock to me. School was much easier in that sense - show up to classes, do your homework, and pass the exams. But work was much more demanding. It required long hours, work on the weekends, and at times felt all consuming. I spent about 8 years working as a business and international law attorney in a large law firm in Los Angeles. 

 

And then in 2011, I came to a (quite shocking!) realization that the practice of law was no longer satisfying. I decided to shift gears completely and become a business and leadership coach. I wanted to help women business owners and professionals grow their business or career, while becoming more focused and confident about they really wanted, connecting with their purpose, and infusing more balance, and happiness into their daily lives.

 

To be frank, it took me months to make the transition happen, during which I experienced my own version of "Eat, Prey, Love" (I spent 2 months volunteering in Costa Rica, traveled to South Korea and Russia, completed a 4-month yoga teacher certification course, back-packed around India for a month, and attended a 10-day SILENT meditation retreat). 

 

Recently, I bought Sharon Lechter's book "Think and Grow Rich for Women: Using Your Power to Create Success and Significance and found one particular passage to strike a cord with me. In it the author says:

 

"For years, women have been taught that they should be able to have it all. They should be able to choose to work full-time or part-time, or work from home while still getting married, having children, and managing a household. But there were no rules or guidebooks on how to have it all and keep your sanity in the process. 

 

Think and Grow Rich for Women debunks the work/ life balance guilt trip that women struggle with. I personally believe the word “balance” was created by a group of old male psychologists who saw the rise of women in the workplace and wanted to make sure they had a steady stream of female patients— women tormented with guilt and frustration with their inability to achieve the psychologists’ definition of balance.”

 

This resonated with me because many of my clients deal with this issue on a daily basis, and my own failed search for that proverbial "perfect balance" was one of the reasons I struggled in my past career as an attorney.

 

At some point, I had resigned myself to the idea that I couldn't "have it all" and that I just had to choose one thing, my work. But as we all know, all work and no play make anyone a dull person. Slowly I began to get that feeling that my soul was being crushed. Sounds dramatic, I know, but that's how it felt.

 

Now, years later, I realize that balance itself was not impossible. The secret that no one tells you about is in how we define "balance". Most of my clients, when we first begin working together, place such high demands on themselves - to be the perfect professional, the perfect spouse or partner, the perfect parent, the perfect friend, the perfect child, etc. All of that while achieving the "perfect balance." 

 

We drive ourselves into exhaustion by trying to achieve and overachieve. Plus, add the guilt that comes when we realize that we are "failing." I recently had one of my clients apologize to me for not creating and mailing her family photo Christmas card to me because she had so much on her plate that she "was going nuts" (hardly necessary to lose one's sanity over a postcard!).

 

What I tell my clients is what I had to tell myself: carve out some time and get clear on your true priorities in life. Start by asking these questions: "How much of what I am trying to accomplish is what I truly want and how much of it is driven by societal and cultural pressures? What would my life look like if I relaxed at least some of my standards? At what point does trying to "have it all" while having "the perfect balance" begin to work against me?" 

 

The answers will set you in the right direction.

 

Join Yuliya at Any of These Upcoming Events! 

  • January 22, 2015: Thelma Gibson Awards hosted by the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Miami-Dade County
  • January 29, 2015: SCORE Miami workshop – Featured Presenter, “'You Said What?' Boost Your Business Etiquette Skills to Ensure Success of Your Business" @ 2000 Ponce Business Center
  • February 4, 2015: WIFS (Women in Insurance & Financial Services) South Florida's Annual Kickoff Meeting  – Featured Presenter, "Plan to Win & Make It Happen! 3 Key Strategies For Success"

January 15, 2015

Where work life balance is headed in 2015

I recently had a conversation that enlightened me. I spoke with a 2014 college graduate working at an accounting firm, who is assigned to the Miami office. She told me she also works from other Florida offices or from home. She explained that her supervisors know when she is working because the company system shows her logged in, but they don’t know her exact location, which makes it easy to work from home. “I love that about this job,” she told me.

Yesterday in The Miami Herald, I outlined my predictions for workplace trends in 2015. One of the trends I feel most strongly about relates to flexibility and this conversation.

I believe in 2015, more employees, like this young accountant, will quietly use flexibility. While many companies are considering policies on flexible work arrangements, their workers are quietly working from outside the office whenever possible. Working where you want or when you want and is a perk employees will put a premium on in 2015.

Those workers who can work from home on occasion tell me they plan to stay in their jobs as long as possible, because not having that flexibility would cost them in commute time, babysitter fees or missed parenting opportunities. Most workers say they are more productive on the days they work from home.

Expect to see lifestyle choices over money when it comes to career decisions in 2015. Alex Funkhouser, CEO of Sherlock Talent, a Florida staffing firm for technology and marketing talent, says seven out of every 10 job candidates he encounters would make a move if he or she could work remotely at least two days a week. “They even would take a pay cut just so they wouldn’t have to commute into an office,” Funkhouser says. Smart employers will recognize and embrace that trend to attract and retain loyal employees, particularly now that their upgraded systems make it easier to work remotely.

 
I also believe America's workforce will struggle even more for work life balance. Google marketing experts are telling us our smartphones are the new remote control for our lives. They are where we go for finding movie times, answering work emails, playing games, communicating with our teens. The more data our smartphone has, the smarter it will be, and the more it will simplify our life — or tether us to the office and distract us from making face to face connections. In 2015 more of us must decide if we use mobile technology — even wearable mobile technology — as a new powerful tool to work and communicate, or if we let it dictate our lives.

“We have to define what’s important for us at which time of the day, the week and the year, and act consistently,” says Geoffroy de Lestrange, a marketing professional.

With our laptops and cell phones tempting us to bring work home, we are going to have to work harder this year to keep work at the office and protect our personal and family life from the demands of work. That will be a focus for my blog this year. I look forward to sharing my tips and hearing yours.

 
 

January 13, 2015

One theory on dealing with email overload

Over the winter break, I spend two deals cleaning out my personal and work Inboxes.  It took more two days and just to get my three Inboxes to a total of 60,000 emails. I realize I'm still doing something wrong. Email is my biggest work life balance challenge! I hate deleting because I use my Inbox for story and blog ideas. I guess there is a way to organize email better but I haven't made the time commitment to do it.

Last week, I was telling tech recruiter Alex Funkhouser, founder of Sherlock Talent, my email woes and he told me he has a completely different approach. He NEVER deletes email. He considers it a waste of time. Instead he flags important email and stores everything else on the cloud. Alex told me this approach is the key to his work life balance because it saves time he would spend in his Inbox and makes that time available for more productive tasks.

My friend Jessica Kizorek, co-founder of Two Parrot Productions, has told me that she keeps a VERY slimmed down Inbox by voraciously deleting email as it arrives. She swears staying uncluttered is the key to better work life balance.

Alex's approach is interesting to me but I haven't adopted it. I get too many junk emails to be okay with never deleting. Still, it works for him and saves him time.

What are your thoughts on Alex's approach to email overload? Are you a deleter, a saver, or do you have another approach?

Email overload