Monthly Archives: March 2008

Separation Anxiety

You’d think I was leaving a cult or something given what I’ve been writing and feeling about leaving my corporate job. Not only am I having this personal soft moment and romancing the idea of the working for a large corporation – some sr leaders in the company have gotten wind of my departure and have taken that time to seek me out in an attempt to sway my thinking.

I was blown away by the fact my CVP spent 30 minutes in my office trying to understand my position on why I wanted to change my relationship with the company. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this woman and was quite frankly honored by the complimentary things she said about my work performance and her genuine care for me to make a solid choice about my professional future. It was really a great feeling.

When I explain it was just as much about striving to gain work life balance AND having time to develop a program for others like me to learn how to have better balance and boundaries – her response was that I stay at the company and develop the pilot program for her organization as part of my job. I was speechless. What an incredible offer – one that monkeyed with my head all day and all night long.

The temptation is great and for half of the day I actually entertained the idea. I’m going to resist it and bet on my plan. I’ve committed to myself to go on this new journey and I’m not going to go back out on my word to myself. Nor am I going to back out on my commitment to my new vendor company, my new clients (which includes another CVP at the company) or my future vision I want to build for my life.

I have to keep going forward and push for a life with more freedom in my schedule, more financial reward in proportion to the work I do and give myself the chance to develop a program that has the potential to have a huge positive impact on people’s lives.

It’s good to feel wanted and valued and it’s good to see that others believe in me as much as I believe in myself. To be honest -I would have been disappointed if no one tried to tempt me to stay – I didn’t expect it would be my CVP and her GMs – and that’s really cool. It comes down to this – if I stay I would always wonder what I could have built – and I don’t want to look back even in 3 years and regret not taking a gamble on myself.

And I pledge to myself that I will pilot my program in my CVP’s organization because weather I’m an employee or a vendor I think deep down she supports the idea and knows her organization could only be made stronger by balanced employees.

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Romanticizing the Relationship

Yesterday there was an event for all the professionals in the marketing communication discipline at the company I work for – in all there were 7,000 people invited to the event. It was a big event – our CEO gave the keynote – infused the group with energy about what a great time it is to be a marketer at this company and how we have the opportunity with all the tools we have to fundamentally shift how marketing is done in a digital world. Then our SVP of marketing talked in more detail about how we can do it and spent a good part of her talk on career development.

I saw people I hadn’t seen in years and connected with past mentors – I cautiously told people of my plans to become a consultant and change my relationship with the company. The reactions were consistent– how could you leave the family? Why would you do something like that? Once work life balance worked its way into the conversation – I became their therapist – they totally understand and wish they could have better balance and don’t have the “guts” to do what I’m doing. The reject then embrace responses made me feel odd – so I stopped telling people midway through the day.

I came home from the event in a funk. I was even second guessing my decision – and embracing all the great things about the company – grasping the opportunities I have to be part of a fundamental shift in how communication is done with new digital tools. I already missed the fact I wouldn’t be able to attend this event next year given my vendor status. I was thinking about how cool some of the people are and I was appreciative of so many great training programs.

I was sharing all this with my partner who bluntly looked at me and said in simple relationship terms – your romanticizing a relationship that doesn’t exist – you’re like the abused spouse who forgot the pain of the last beating – it wasn’t even a year ago the paramedics peeled you off the floor when you collapsed from over work. And it was just this last weekend you had to work instead of go to a baseball game (he didn’t say that – I added the last part – because I still feel guilty).

He was right – I’m holding on to the idea of what I wanted it to be like and not being truthful with myself about the reality. I still love many things about the company and that is why letting go is hard – because it’s admitting the relationship didn’t work out the way I wanted it to – letting of the idea is sometimes harder the putting up with the crap.

In short – he said get it over and move on – there is no need to doubt what I am doing – but it’s ok to mourn the loss of the idea. He reminded me I will find a new community of marketers and communication professionals to pontificate the future.

After all when you clear the space of the old negative – you create new space for the new positive to enter your life. I need to clear this space so I can fill it with energy and passion to develop work life balance curriculum so others can have these same conversations with themselves about what is really important. It’s ok to let go.

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The Fantasy of Balance

Regardless if you work for a corporation, yourself or you don’t work at all – deep down we all think about the things we’d do better or change if only we have more time to do it. The last few weeks have left me feeling a bit inadequate as a friend, lover and business person, so the other night I began thinking about the things I want to do better given this new chance to mold my day when my consulting business starts full time. The illusion is I will have more time or rather I will be more in control of my time to really own decisions for how I balance my life.

Some random things I’d like to change, do or strive for:

answer my emails the same day I get them
call friends I haven’t talked to in months to just say hello in the afternoon
send thank you note for the little things
send birthday gifts on time and plan enough so they won’t always come last minute from Amazon.com
return calls the day I get them
go out to an early dinner and have one too many glasses of wine before 6pm
workout in the middle of the day
buy groceries at the Wednesday farmer’s market
meet friends for lunch
conduct business in coffee shops
write on my blog in the mornings
pick up the phone in place of writing e-mails
have fun
work from the boat a couple days a month
celebrate how cool my job is
be grateful for the problems I have

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Happy Business Birthday to WLB

Been a bit since I’ve been able to post – have been sucked in by the corporate machine – days jammed with meetings, overflowing e-mails and the last 2 weekends I’ve ended up working a few hours. I have walked into the house at the end of the day on at least 3 conference calls barely acknowledging family. One night I felt so guilty about breaking my own boundaries – I stood outside in the drive way for 30 minutes to finish a call before walking in.

At the same time I’m giving in a bit slightly out of guilt knowing that April 15 is my last day as a full time employee with my company. As I mentioned, I’m leaving to start my own consulting company and my first contract begins on April 17, ironically (and on purpose) with current employer. (hold your comments and let me explain)

I won’t lie – it was just easier that way and the money is too good to turn down. Using the relationship example – I look at it like we are a couple in counseling now and maybe I’ll be able to stay in the relationship now that I’ve set my boundaries – or maybe I will file for divorce – only time will tell. For now consulting for my current company was the best step I could take to begin forming the balanced life I aspire to.

Today is the official birthday (paper work filling and fee paying day) of my WLB Consulting Group, LLC. Get it – WLB – Work Life Balance Consulting Group – sounds corporate enough where I have 3 partners and meaningful enough to me to remember why I am doing this.
The ultimate goal with WLB is to create, teach and distribute content that will help people ask the questions they need to identify what balance means to them and the tools to take accountably to achieve that balance. (More to come on this in the coming months as I have 2 brewing partnerships to support this direction that I will blog about once they are finalized)

To pay the bills and support that long term goal of WLB – I will be offering consulting services to help business improve the way they communicate to each other and generate awareness around how a business is perceived by its employees, partners and customers through communication and perception audits, content create and so on.

It’s amazing how much my attitude about my work has changed looking at my endless piles of to do’s now as clearly defined scopes of work that I can bill for and seeing my co-works now as potential clients. I seem to like everyone and everything a bit better.

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E-mail Overload – You’re Not Alone

In case you needed more validation than conversations with co-workers – being buried in your in-box is a global work productivity issues. A firm in the UK estimated that dealing with pointless e- mails is costing them £39m a year. Some companies have gone as far as to hire e-mail consults and create e-mail free days. (Note to self: add e-mail consulting to list of new services for my business.) Not only has that but the article stated that Britons take 14 million sick days due to stress every year and that can be related to too much e-mail and having it available to you 24x7x365 on a variety of devices.

The article also mentions Ray Tomlinson who in 1971 ( that is 36 years ago for those slow at math) wrote the code that enable him to send e-mail between two computers.

E-mail might have been created 36 years ago – however it only been 15 years (give or take) that businesses began adapting as it a communication tool. It’s odd now to even consider business without e-mail.

I think back to my first job out college where our company was just building a Website and trying to figure out how to make it more than a brochure on the computer. Somehow without e-mail I managed to sell a great deal of print advertising for a national magazine using my personal charm in meetings or by phone and a fax machine to close deals. I wonder if I would have sold more or less ads if had been using e-mail at the time.

Now most companies use e-mail as the primary communication tool to do everything – talk to clients, make deal, communicate to employees and now employees us it as a proactive way to protect themselves from bad deals, angry clients or back stabbing co-workers. (Which I’m convinced doubles the amount of e-mail in my in-box.)

Maybe they should change CC in Outlook to CYA – because that is the primary reason people add someone the CC line. Which makes me wonder how did people cover their asses before e-mail?

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About Balance

Balance is different for everyone – the questions that get you there are the same

The idea of balance is not taught at school

The concept of balance in not disused in most families

The practice of balance is not reinforced by current American business models

The need for balance is essential to heath and well being

Balance at work is marketing speak for recruiters

Most introductions to balance come from a crisis of imbalance

Learning balance is a hard

When one area of life is in balance another goes out of balance

There is no end point for being in balance it’s always evolving

Balance is like unconditional love – you know when you have it and it requires honoring yourself to experience it fully

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