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    Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Entrepreneurs?

    Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Entrepreneurs?

    What does work-life balance look like for busy entrepreneurs? In demanding fields, it can feel like you’re neglecting your home life when you work too hard and vice-versa. Perhaps, work-life integration is a better term, guest host Amber Hacker suggests. Realistically, there’s no perfect balance between your career and personal life, especially if they overlap, but we can create some harmony between the two using organization, time-management, and communication skills– on individual and corporate levels.

    “A culture of care does not have to maintain an opposition to a culture of excellence”

    Amber Hacker

    Prioritizing balance amidst busy schedules 

    • First of all, decide what balance looks like in your life because it’s different for everybody. Balance is dependent on your goals, it’s when you’re content with your input and output.
    • Take breaks when you need– and actually unplug while you’re off. Studies show that vacation-takers work at higher levels, so set that Out Of Office message! 
    • Learn to prioritize– what do you need to do to operate at your best? Whether it’s making time to exercise or waking up earlier to plan your day, stick to the things that make life easier! 
    • Finding project planning tools and organization methods that work for you makes a world of difference in terms of personal productivity and managing responsibilities. 

    “The right system is one that you actually use.”  

    AMBER HACKER

    How can organizations create a balanced culture? 

    • The necessities– Providing sufficient sick leave, paid time off, and flexible scheduling whenever possible. Taking time off can increase productivity and focus and reduce employee stress. 
    • Trust your employees to complete their work on their own accord. Setting clear expectations while encouraging different approaches and style sets the tone for an inventive, efficient workplace.   
    • Sick days include mental health days– make sure your team knows their wellbeing is paramount, and encourage taking a step back when feeling overwhelmed or burned out. 
    • Having these policies in place is one thing… make sure your team knows they’re there to be used! 

    Listen to the full session above for more, and be sure to check out Amber’s Time-Saving Hacks and tips to run efficient meetings.

  • Read the Transcript

    The Complete Entrepreneur – Special Edition EP03: Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Entrepreneurs? 

    [00:00:00] 

    You’re on startup club and today we’re talking work-life balance and really trying to figure out. , you know, what’s the balance between those two things. I mean, as startups, we work really hard and it’s really a balance and, and speaking of balance, welcome, Amber Michele, I’m double booked right now, but I just wanted to sort of kick off the session and I’m gonna come back and listen to the replay.

    Uh, but very excited about the session you’re gonna put on. Speaking of balance Colin, right. Being book double booked. There we go. There we go. Exactly right. but I’m gonna come back and listen to the recording. I think, you know, this is the kind of topic that we don’t often talk about on startup club is really just understanding, you know, the complete entrepreneur, the holistic entrepreneur, and that this is not just [00:01:00] about running a business, but it’s also about running your life.

    And I just think I’ve listened to the last two sessions with Amber. They’ve been incredible and you’re in for a treat today. It’s gonna be a real fun session.

    Excellent. So let’s go ahead and get started. I see members starting to enter the room. Um, you’re joining the complete entrepreneur and we’re going to talk about hacks for work life balance with Amber hacker. Yes, that’s really her last. So Amber is, um, a Harvard business review contributor, meaning she writes articles and she has written them specifically on these kinds of subjects.

    And for Harvard, she is also the vice president of ops and finance for interfaith America, which helps organizations present equality and present balance for their employees in a very open and inclusive environment. So. [00:02:00] We’re gonna just hit the ground. Rolling here. I see we have members in the room. Um, if you want to ask questions of Amber or you want to contribute your hacks, please just start raising your hand.

    Um, we plan on getting to the audience rather quickly here. So Amber, I, I need this one. I need it badly. So I’m really looking forward, um, to your hacks here. So tell. What is even work life balance. I don’t even know what it means anymore. um, thank you so much, Michele. It’s it’s so great to be here. You know, it’s interesting that you, you mentioned that because there’s actually a lot of literature out there on how work life balance.

    Is actually not the right phrase to use, um, in that we should be saying, uh, work life harmony or work life synergy, but [00:03:00] given the growing demands that we have personally, given the growing demands that we have professionally that saying work life balance is actually not as helpful. Um, as, as we might think.

    So I think that’s really where I would love to, to start the conversation. So, um, in our last week’s conversation, we talked about how are we creating, um, meeting spaces that are the most helpful given that we’re spending a lot of time in meetings. And, and in that conversation, I said, The most important thing that you should do in starting a meeting is stating the purpose.

    So I wanna practice what I preach and really the purpose for us today is to have a conversation about work, life balance, um, or another phrase that perhaps is a little bit more accurate. And what I would love for us to do is to dig into how organizations can help with. And how we, as individuals can help with this because it’s not just the organizations that we start or that we [00:04:00] create or that we work for.

    It’s not solely their responsibility, but they have a role to play. And for us as individuals, we have a role to play and making sure that we are considering ways that we’re balancing personal and professional demands. So that’s how I would love to structure the conversation today in terms of how.

    Organizations be attentive to this because I really believe that, um, when organizations are attentive to this, that it’s good for business. I think that maintaining a culture of excellence is super important. It’s something that’s very important to our organization and that a culture of care does not have to be an opposition to maintaining a culture of excellence.

    I think those two things can go hand in hand. So that’s what I’m really excited to have a conversation about today. So, um, I would love to just open it up to talk about the challenge. So, so what’s, what’s the challenge here? What are the things as you think about work, life balance, what does that mean to you [00:05:00] and where do you struggle?

    Um, what do you find challenging about this? So let’s, let’s spend a few minutes hearing from the audience. The challenge of this. And then I would love to move us into what are some ways that we can think about addressing this, um, using some hacks as, uh, Michele said, that is my last name. I, I married, I luckily married into it.

    Um, I married him for other reasons other than just the last name, but the last name was a pretty sweet perk. Um, so as I mentioned, I would love to open it up to our audience. What is the challenge as you think about your own work life balance, what are the challenges you encounter in this area?

    I would love to start on this, um, because I feel like I have actually figured out some sort of formula that works for me. Um, I work at startup club, uh, and maybe like, I have a full time job [00:06:00] and I’m the type of person that has big dreams and I wanna do it all, but also have many, many challenges, um, like get in the way of all these dreams.

    And first of all, I think. Having the right mindset has helped me a lot because I’ve learned to prioritize what needs to be done today. Now, not today, today, but now, and what I need from my environment to be, to accomplish all these things. So I work full time at startup club. I’m currently at a doctorate program and like full time and I’m also a single mom.

    and on top of that, I love crossing. I try and spend a lot of hours at the gym, so I really have to juggle and try and do it all. And I think the number one thing that startup club has done for me in this aspect is they trust me. And I [00:07:00] get my work done at my own pace at my own schedule, but I provide what I need to provide on time.

    So they trust me and they. and I return this whole thing with excellence. Like you just said, Amber. So I may have a weird schedule. I may have a million things in my plate, but I prioritize my time in terms of what I need to do right now. And that process of learning how to prioritize has helped me accomplish all these things.

    Just wanna leave it there. So maybe someone else can jump.

    Yeah. Uh, I’d love to jump in Olivia. That was, that was, uh, great. And I can relate to relate to that busy schedule as well. Um, you know, one thing I’d like to say is that we’ve all at some point, um, asked for the plate that was served to us. Right. Um, and that’s the biggest thing about being intentional and really, um, you [00:08:00] know, being, being thoughtful of, uh, getting what you wish.

    Um, and a big thing. Um, I like to talk about a little bit, um, which I think Amber or Michele talked about earlier was the work life balance. Um, it’s never gonna be balanced, right? Um, it, it’s gonna be either all in or all out, and if you’re balanced, then you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. Then you just live a certain kind of life.

    Right. But when you’re trying to be great, you want to achieve things. The, the, the balance is not gonna be there. It’s gonna be all the way on one side, right? The pendulum’s gonna go swinging one way. It’s not gonna come back and forth or stay in the middle. Um, you know, we only have 24 hours in a day.

    Right. And we have to start to prioritize. What’s important. Right. So for me, it’s mandatory that I have to get at least an hour to myself, um, exercising. Right. And then I know I have to, you. Take out my dogs. And then I know I have to spend time [00:09:00] working. So it’s kind of reverse engineering into what the priorities are, um, in your life and kind of going down that way.

    Um, but, but yeah, man, it it’s when you wanna be great and there’s certain things you want to do and you have like some wild dreams, um, that you want to execute and turn into reality. It’s not gonna be comfortable, right. It’s comfortable at the end, you know, at the end, you know, right now, Michael Jordan, he’s comfortable.

    He’s he’s got a, you know, formula. Team. He he’s guy’s own golf course. He’s has a cigar in his hand every day. He’s he’s, he’s playing golf at the end. He’s relaxing. Right. But in the beginning, it’s countless hours in the gym, countless sacrifices, not seeing your kids as much, not seeing your wife as much, not being present 99% of the time.

    It’s, it’s, it’s a sacrifice. Right? I think that’s a big thing. People, um, don’t understand is that when you. To where you want to get to, and you start to see the stars line and you see that step, that staircase going to where you want to go. It’s not gonna be convenient. It it’s gonna be uncomfortable. It’s gonna suck.[00:10:00] 

    But then it’s like, do you really want it? Right. Um, and I talk too much more. I want to give everybody else in the room. I, a chance to talk. I’d love to hear, um, what people have to say on this topic, cuz I think it’s, uh, it’s huge. Um, but you know, I think it’s, uh, it’s just prioritizing. Um, and, and just really sticking to the script and seeing how bad you want it.

    Uh, I think that’s huge. And, and one little hack that I will say that I’ve, uh, I’ve used, it’s been very helpful is the calendar app on my iPhone. so if there’s one thing I know that’s been my best friend lately. It’s that calendar app. So go ahead everybody and, and use that calendar. It’s there for a.

    Awesome. That’s a great, um, tip. So Amber, you know, what are your thoughts on that, like that we can’t have at all? Or can we, yeah, so I, um, that’s a great [00:11:00] question, Michele, and, uh, Olivia and Ricky, I appreci. Both of the, the point, the many good points that you all raised. Um, so just to say a quick word about that, you know, Olivia, you talked about having trust from your employer and how important that is to enable you to, as you think about your, your work and life and all the different things that you have moving.

    And you said because of that trust, you are able to deliver excellence. And I just think. Such a key and important insight. Um, Ricky, I think that your point about it will never be balanced is right on. So, you know, one of the things that I like to say is instead of work life balance, we should actually say work life integration, because you are exactly right.

    There’s never going to be, or, uh, work life fit is another one that I’ve heard. a lot. Um, but you know, there’s, there’s never gonna be an actual balance between the two and you know what you said around you really have to [00:12:00] prioritize what’s important. Um, reminds me of a, um, convers the conversation we had here, um, at startup two weeks ago from today, um, we talked about.

    Really prioritizing as we manage our time. And so you reminded me of one of the questions that I shared in that session, which I’ll just mention it again, because I just, I thought it was such a helpful question is, um, it’s, it’s a question that comes from, um, a guy Gary Keller who wrote a book about this.

    Um, it’s the question is what’s the one thing I can. Such by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary. So again, that question is, what’s the one thing I can do such by doing it. Everything else will be easier or unnecessary. And Rick, Ricky, your points reminded me of that question about, you know, it sounds like you kind of ask yourself that question every morning.

    And as you said, reverse engineer your day. To really focus in on the priorities. Um, the other thing that I heard from both of you, which I think is really important [00:13:00] is both of you mentioned exercise and physical exercise and really focusing on physical health. Um, that’s something that, um, is resonant for me as well.

    I’m also a CrossFitter alongside Olivia. Um, I don’t think I can lift nearly as much weight as she can. Um, It’s really important for me. I notice that if I don’t exercise, I don’t have as much energy. I have more stress and I’m less able to do the things that I need to do in my work and in my life. So, um, that was something else, um, that I heard from both of you.

    Um, I’d love to hear from, um, other folks on this stage, um, Joyce or other folks, um, that wanna contribute, um, what you see as the challenge with work life balance or work life integration.

    oh, can you guys hear me? Yes, we can. Okay. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I, I agree with all those points and [00:14:00] honestly, I’m kind of new to the whole work life balance thing. I just started a business recently. So for me, it’s a really new territory, but, um, I’ve been trying to do everything I can pretty much to kind of, you know, make schedules, put, make sure that I’m only prioritizing those things in my day, that I know that need to be done urgent.

    Um, just being able to ask myself that question every morning, like, is this something that I can put off till tomorrow? Um, or, or do I really have to do it today? Um, and just doing other things to protect my mental health as well. Cuz I know once I do too much in one day, it. Could ruin me completely. If I’m not just, you know, taking those frequent breaks in between or getting the time I need to de-stress or do something for myself.

    Um, I know those are huge challenges for me and, and a lot of other people for sure. Um, and it’s really, it’s [00:15:00] also really difficult for me to even get an exercise too. Like I know that cause I work full time as well. Um, trying to run a. Um, I’m also just starting school up again. Um, and it’s so hard for me to actually like get out and do a lot of the things I want and it’s kind of hard cuz something has to give and, but um, you know, it’s really just like you guys were saying, it’s just about being able to, you know, remember this is what you wanted.

    This is exactly what, you know, you, you were working this hard for, so you just. Be able to push through whenever you feel like it’s too much. And you know, but still being able to kind of draw back and say, okay, I deserve this break. I’m, I’m a, I’m doing this so that I can keep going. And that’s always, it’s always hard too, because you have to have that self talk with yourself and it’s not, not every day is going to be that easy, but, um, I feel like I’m starting to get.

    So I’m [00:16:00] understanding like it’s, it’s really important for me to take care of myself first and foremost.

    Thank you so much, Joyce, um, other other folks that are on stage, wanna chime in here? Hi everybody. This is my first time in this room and I would love to chime in. So I think it’s not talked about enough, especially for early entrepreneurs. How, when you are truly hustling and grinding and in those early years, and people are watching you, they will.

    Try, they want a piece of the pie. So they’re gonna ask you to be a part of their organization, their board, to donate your time to donate your money. And initially, I know I made the mistake of saying yes to everything and I ended up on way too many boards, a part of way too many committees. And even [00:17:00] organizations I was excited about working with, um, some of them, they didn’t do anything, but sit around a table and talk.

    Some of them did not have proper financial management. So really telling myself that I have to value my time and I need to value my time in the same way that I value my money, money. Um, Helped me grow my organization. So I run a real estate business. And when I make a hire for my admin positions on my team, I am, I’m really just buying back my time because I can do all of those things, but I want my time back to give to my family and to let other places in.

    So that’s just a lesson that I wish, um, you know, maybe someone had talked to me about early.[00:18:00] 

    Could I jump? Yeah, go ahead. Okay. First thing, thank you so much. The investment stage is my first time here and, um, Forgive my English, because I don’t understand yet English and I don’t speak English perfectly I’m Italian business or, and entrepreneur. And, um, what joy said, what I can tell at 100% school doesn’t teach you to be business.

    Entrepreneur school can give you the best educational Heather to be the best. It’s different in Italy. We have B in USA, a but you can tell me, please, how is possible the best school in the world to be business or entrepreneur. The teacher want to teach me to be a best business or entrepreneur to find a balance he’s or all his life is [00:19:00] impossible.

    Why I can tell. My name is CE I’m Italian business stone entrepreneur. In Italy. I add several auto restaurant franchising in Vietnam in store gym, property management company, and over 1000 employee to have the balance depend. What is your goal? Because some people has a perfect balance and, you know, because they don’t want to be rich and they know the secret of the rich people.

    Poor mindset. They want money. They don’t understand the secret is they never need to work for money. They need to work for a project, a services. What is your services? What is your product? What is what you, what you want, realize money, follow up a project in your life. Everybody around me, they want to teach me to make money.

    But what is incredible is they don’t have a. And why I want to tell it, you know, the balance [00:20:00] depends. What is your goal? Because when you started from zero and you realize incredible number and your business pass it. No, six years ago, I started to live in USC today. I have 115 employee and the best that become, because like I said, my English is not perfect yet.

    You want your balance depend? What is, what, what biggest your goal? Because, um, if I tell you this, this stage, you. I don’t work Saturday, Sunday. I want to give my time free for my family. I’m liar. I’m not liar for this. No, sometimes I know people that are very happy to work. 60 hour per day, 18 hour per day.

    Saturday, Sunday balance is when you are happy to do that, when you ring the holler and you say, oh my God, I need to go work. That is. But if you awake before ring your holler, you are very lucky. Do you know why people continue to ask me? If, was it through my [00:21:00] story, homeless, sleep in the car, lost any money to receive the visa.

    And today I have an empire in real estate. Do you know why? Because no one time, no one person around me can stop my dream. When you have a dream. No matter, doesn’t matter, English, Italian language, you have the power, other people around you. They don’t recognize no one. You are todo. You are a fire in your eyes.

    The passion that you have when you speak it’s, it’s incredible. And for this, my little Amber suggest is your bad balance is when you are happy, because if you are happy, You can be rich in your life, but trust me, if you are rich, I not sure that you are happy. My business partner, he’s a billionaire and billionaire.

    I know very well. The difference between millionaire and billionaire, he’s the P he is a drug Pharmac and he call me anytime. Like he’s a psychotic. And do you think that in this room, [00:22:00] you want to be billionaire or you want to be. Try to think that life is too short. And I finished to talk with this, this thing that if you want to be great in your life, work to improve yourself, doesn’t matter what people say is impossible.

    Remember to them, which is my, when people say me impossible, my, my, my, in the first time I was rude because I didn’t use English like I wanted. And I say for you. Who you are to tell me what is possible or is impossible. Remember them? Thank you so much to show me your limit. Not my limit. This is me. This is just happened back to you, Michele.

    EY, thank you so much for sharing. Um, so much, um, great wisdom and what you shared about the importance of mindset. And all of this and, and really thinking about what your goals are and sometimes what you think will, will make you happy and work life balance are not actually the [00:23:00] things that will make you happy.

    Um, thank you so much for sharing. Um, and, and so much that you’ve accomplished. Um, and Joyce, I just love what you shared around protecting mental health. and how, you know, that reminds me of, um, so many people and clients that I work with, um, that when they don’t protect mental health, um, you know, and, and they just keep grinding and keep grinding.

    Eventually they will have to pay attention to mental health. So, you know, you talked about, um, the importance of taking breaks, um, really focusing on what the end goal is. Um, Gabby, I loved, loved, loved what you said. About how you think about your time, the same way you think about your money and that’s exactly right, because you know, the old adage is that time is money and that’s true because our time there’s an opportunity cost.

    With our time, um, when we’re getting paid by organizations or as an organization that we start, we started and, um, you know, as entrepreneurs and thinking about the [00:24:00] value of our time and building business and, and build capacity building and building organizations. Um, and you talked about saying yes to too much, and that’s definitely something, um, that I personally have struggled with.

    And, um, you know, the way that you said you were able to. Address that was valuing your time, the same as your money, which I just think is such a smart insight. Um, really, really appreciate that. Um, so I would, I would love, um, you know, we have a lot of, uh, first timers here, which is awesome. I love it. Um, I would love to shift the conversation to talk about what can we.

    As entrepreneurs, as leaders as, um, you know, people that help shape, uh, policies at organizations, what are things that we can do? You know, I said at the very beginning, Um, that work life balance is somewhat of a misnomer that is more about, um, work life integration and also work life [00:25:00] balance. I think, um, in some of the literature that I have read, really folks that, um, push back against that language, say that, um, it puts all of the burden on the individual instead of actually getting organizations to think about how they think about this.

    And so I would love. To start the con or to continue the conversation with thinking about what are things that organizations can do to help with work life balance, work, life integration. I think one of the most obvious things is time off and paid time off and. Sick leave, um, these kinds of important things.

    And so as you’re creating organizations and shaping policies, or even, you know, thinking about this for yourself, um, I think that this is super important and this is actually something that our organization, um, recently did. Um, we have started, you know, we were trying to figure out what’s a way that we can show our people.

    That we really appreciate them. People have been working really, really hard. We just [00:26:00] recently had a big rebranding. We had a new website, we changed the organization’s name. We had sort of got, we had sprinted a marathon and we were trying to figure out how could we show our people that we appreciate them.

    And the idea came that we should close down the office for a whole. And we should give everybody a week off. And at one point we considered letting people choose when to take a week off, but we actually found, um, through research that people appreciate having time off at the same time. And so we closed down the office for the entire week.

    And the reason for this is because, um, people get work fo. When they have vacation and their colleagues do not. It’s this, um, recent where it’s a phenomenon where, um, if you’re on vacation, but your colleagues Aren. The temptation to check email on your phone is higher, for example, because you know, other people are working and there might be something you’re missing out on with work.

    And so this was a, a really [00:27:00] meaningful way to help people actually slow down. Um, and so that’s, that’s one of, one of the things that we did, and I wanna be really clear that, um, we. A culture of excellence at my organization. And that’s something that’s really important. We have high standards for people, and I think that that giving people time off and flexibility, um, Olivia, this is something you mentioned in your comments as well.

    I think that flexibility is so, so important in showing trust in people as well. Um, but time off is, um, something that I have found in my work at my organization, um, is incredibly important and actually. interestingly enough, it, I find that it increases productivity. And so there’s a, um, Harvard business review, uh, article called the data driven case for vacation.

    And they’ve found studies that when people take vacation, they have greater successes at work and they’re also, they also [00:28:00] have lower stress. Um, there’s a, I, I read recently, um, in a, um, time magazine article that 55% of vacation days go unused in the United States. Um, so people have vacation, but they’re not taking it.

    Um, and we, we can see empirical data that shows taking time away can really boost productivity and creativity, which is ultimately good for the organizations that we’re starting or that we work for. And it’s good for employees. Um, and. You know, it, it’s interesting because there’s a lot of diminishing returns when it comes to work.

    Um, a lot of studies that show, once you hit the 55 hour mark, um, productivity really, um, takes a nose dive. There’s some studies from Stanford university that, that show this. And so I’m really interested in hearing from others. You know, there’s a lot of studies and data that show time off is really important.

    How do we balance that? With all of the other [00:29:00] demands, right? So clearly, you know, with our organization, we closed shop for the entire. That meant that the weeks surrounding it were pretty busy, right? Because then that the week that we were gone, we had to move all of the meetings and projects and things that we were doing to other weeks.

    And we kind of cram those in. So that way we could make time and space to be off for that entire week. Um, and I would love to hear from you all as entrepreneurs, as people that are growing and shaping your own organizations, How do you think about time off? Um, this is such a key way that I think organizations can, um, help shape policies and practices to help employees, um, with their own work life balance or work life integration.

    Um, so I would love to hear. Um, I would love to open it up, back up to our speakers. And how you think about time off? Um, how do you think about it as an entrepreneur? How have you, um, experienced this, um, with [00:30:00] organizations you’ve started or organizations you’ve been part of what are some best practices in this area?

    Yeah, I can start, I mean, it, it can be a real challenge, right. With some employees, some to take off lots of. And then I seem to have, you know, a very loyal group and they don’t seem to wanna take any time off. So I have a particular employee, she works so extremely hard. I literally have to set her down every year.

    It make her take time off. It’s so important. And, and I know personally, I don’t always lead a good example, but I would say it’s so absolutely critical. But us as managers or bosses or, you know, whatever our role is, coworkers, right? We really need to support each other. We need to not feel envious. We need to not feel like they’re gonna be punished, right.

    Or [00:31:00] they’re gonna come back. And you know, their whole work life is turned upside down or that things are piled up on their desk. We have to enable it and we have to help them set these boundaries. I think that’s absolutely critically important. For example, when people come back from whatever a week or two weeks, whatever it is, they choose works for them.

    Like don’t just like slam them with a bunch of work and make them feel guilty. Like give them even, I think, you know, a day or two space and help them, you know, pace themselves, help them like maybe review the schedules or something that new came in. So you can reprioritize. That’s how I think you really support, not just by saying, but by actually doing thank you.

    I also wanted to add that sometimes people need a day off [00:32:00] for mental health day, whatever they need and not necessarily. Has to be an entire week of vacation or have I feel like we missed that point where it’s not about having plans to go somewhere it’s just to rest. So the way it works for me in particular is I take single days off just to like regroup and, and rest that entire day.

    I’ll add to you just.

    Perspective. Um, so I have real estate agents, which is obviously kind of different than a nine to five type of position, but I also have admin positions and for the agents, we really make sure that. When an agent is going on vacation, or they’re gonna be out of town with family, we have their clients covered.

    We [00:33:00] will do showings, you know, as a group that is just part of our team culture. Um, and then same when my nine to few five people, um, take time off, we kind of implement systems up to leading, leading up to before they leave so that nothing gets missed and they’re not having to work while they’re on vacation.

    and lastly, um, cuz I think Amber, you were talking in general, like what do we do besides time off? Um, to have a certain culture at our office, I recently started doing kind of, um, incentives based. Training and learning because as agents it’s really important to, um, learn not only like just the required education, but to know what’s happening in your communities and economic development, all of those things.

    So they basically, at every office meeting, they get a raffle ticket for any training that they have been to any [00:34:00] chamber of commerce event. They’ve been to. There there’s a whole list of items they get and we raffle off, it’s a hundred bucks at every meeting. It’s not much, but they get so excited about it and they get really competitive and they wanna see who has the most entries for that.

    Um, so that’s something I’ve started doing that I’ve had great success with. And then when I was building my company, um, because I was a single mom for a really long time, and my kids went to so many different meetings with me, um, places where they. Definitely the only kids in the room. I wanted to create a very family friendly environment in my office.

    So you can look at pictures and videos of any of our office meetings. We’ve got at least three kids there. We’ve got a baby that has grown up in our office. She, um, was born my agent. So like worried about, oh my gosh, I have to find her daycare. What am I gonna do? And I’m like, look, you’re an agent because you [00:35:00] want to kind of run your own schedule.

    Just we’ll work around it. Like we’ll make this work. And so he did not have to put his baby in childcare, um, and she’s gotta play pin at the office. And so that was something that was just, I know that isn’t gonna work for every office, but for me, that was important.

    Thank you so much. You know, uh, Gabby and what you just said. I think so many pearls of wisdom there. Um, you know, your point about, as we think about work life balance, it looks different based on the position, whether you’re, you know, someone who’s nine to five or you’re an agent and you sort of work all different hours.

    And then your point about how we. How we cover for each other and how we, how we achieve as a team, how we contribute to this as a team and how we, um, help each [00:36:00] other when someone needs to step in or step back. I just think that’s such a key insight. Um, the last thing, um, I’ll the, what it means to be family friendly.

    I think that is. So, so important. And I wanna touch on that in just a moment. Um, Olivia, I think your point about recognizing that sometimes people just need to take a day off and just need, um, you know, might need a mental health day and it doesn’t have to look a certain way. It doesn’t have to be five days or it doesn’t have to be this, um, Flexibility is so key.

    And then I think Michele, your point about how we have to work with people, to set boundaries and have to recognize that if we have teammates that are, are not really good about taking time off, um, that it’s important to recognize that because we wanna keep people, we wanna retain people. Um, we don’t wanna burn them out.

    I think that that’s just so critical. Um, I would love to, um, I would love to maybe, um, touch on a theme that, that Gabby brought up, which is, you know, how can [00:37:00] we create. Organizations and cultures that are family friendly. Um, and you know, I would, you know, Gabby, you mentioned that, um, you’re a single mom, um, you know, Olivia, I would love to hear from you on this as well.

    Um, but I would, I would love for y’all to talk a little bit more about this, because I think that this is, um, so important and that, of course, anybody else who wants to chime in. You know, for me, this is not just a policy thing. So I see a lot of, you know, I see a lot of articles, um, you know, that talk about the policies that we need to have in place to be family friendly workplaces, to keep women in the workplace.

    After they have children, I’m a working mom. I have two kids and that’s all incredibly important. Right. So I think, you know, having. Um, you know, having, uh, maternity leave and some of these kinds of policies in place is, is really important, but it’s not the only thing. Um, you know, so I actually spoke on a panel at, um, Kellogg, Northwestern, Kellogg school of business couple years ago with some other women.

    In the business school. [00:38:00] And we talked about how you could have these policies in place, but if people are not, if they don’t feel the permission to use the policies, then they’re, then they’re useless. Right. And so I, I really think about as, as a leader at my organization, I think.

    I take vacation and I go on vacation and I don’t put it in my out of office. My cell phone number. I don’t say if you need me text me, I say, I’m on vacation and I will be. On X date. And I look forward to responding to your message at that time. And I really encourage my people take vacation, don’t check, work, email.

    If there’s really something on fire, I promise we’ll call or text you. But otherwise we really want you to be able to unplug because all the research shows that if you really unplug, you’re gonna be a lot more useful to us when you get back. Um, and so that’s something that I think about as you know, not only how are we creating policies, but how are we also creating cultures?

    That are [00:39:00] family friendly that enable work life balance, work, life integration. I would love to hear some moms, um, working parents on this, cuz I think this is just so, so important. So I’ll add that COVID really sets women back in the corporate world and the business industry. You can look up the statistics on how many women had to leave their careers to stay home with their kids, because everything was virtual and it was just kind of expected that that’s what they were going to have to do, especially if they did not have a work from home option.

    Um, so one thing for me when I’m talking to women and, and young moms, and I hear a lot of moms say like, well, I’m just gonna have to wait until my kids are out of the house before I can get involved anything. And it makes me sad because I think about how much, how many great minds and how much talent is not coming to the [00:40:00] table.

    We’re putting them in the box that they can only be a mom right now. Like my kid, I, my kids they’re in the car right now. Listening. They could tell you so many stories. I mean, my daughter lost a tooth at a city council meeting. Like they have been yes, you did. They have been to. You know, all different kinds of things.

    And there were some meetings where people, you know, could, were like, why is she here with her kids? But guess what? I brought something to the table and that helped me build the foundation for where I am now, if I had to sit there and just wait until they were gone for me to do something, I wouldn’t have the business that I have.

    That’s great. Gabby. I love what you said before about some kids literally growing up in the office and that’s, I think that’s my favorite thing about startup club where I work at right now, because I got [00:41:00] hired, I think the same day that I interviewed. And it was right after the first year of COVID and I’m a single mom, so I.

    I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or a good thing, but I don’t have the option to just stay home. Um, so I told Michele, like, I’m more than happy to start tomorrow, but right now my son is at home because, um, during that time, whenever a kid in the class. Had COVID all the, the entire class had to go home and do homeschool.

    So I had my son with me that week and she was like, bring him in. And since that day he came in every day after school, I didn’t have to pay for aftercare during the summer he even got jobs at the office and it became part of the family, the, the office family, they even like. Through him a birthday party, just like they would do to any other employee at the office.

    And that is gold for me, that there is [00:42:00] no amount of salary that would replace that feeling of we are welcomed. And I can not worry about this part of my life because I can, I have it covered and I can focus on work.

    Thank you so much, um, to Olivia and Gabby for sharing. I think so much of what I see in, in both of your responses are the importance of modeling. Um, you know, um, not only, you know, modeling as a leader, which, you know, Gabby, you did. um, you know, but also, you know, having, having relationships and having a flexible workplace, um, that allows for that.

    And then, you know, Olivia and what you said, sort of taking it up a notch further. It’s not only allowed it’s welcomed, right? Like having a birthday party for your son is such a beautiful, I love that. And that’s such a beautiful example [00:43:00] of, you know, we’re not only, you know, we’re a family, family workplace, but for real, we are a family friendly workplace.

    Right. You know, so it’s, it’s definitely in the culture. Those are, are great examples. Um, O other would love to hear, um, from other folks, um, uh, Giles, I don’t believe you’ve had a chance to chime in. Um, do you have thoughts on, uh, work life balance, creating family friendly workplaces? Um, the importance of time off would love to give you an opportunity to.

    Hey Gil. She might be on mute. It’s the little right button.

    Okay. We’ll give, we’ll give Gil a moment to. Figure figure out technology, um, feel free to chime in when, if you’re able to get back on. Um, I’d love to, um, [00:44:00] take a quick look at, um, the chat, um, chief Patrick, um, made a great point here about time off. About time off being important for his team, he’s in a high energy driven business.

    And you said they tend to make mistakes normally that they wouldn’t have employees feel rejuvenated after their days off or their leave days. I think that’s exactly right. And I’ve absolutely seen that in the work that I do as well. Um, in that it’s, um, it’s incredibly important. Um, not only to retain staff, but also as we think.

    Productivity and work product, um, that time off can play a really, um, key role in that, and then somewhat paradoxical. Right? You think about taking, taking time off, being good for business, but taking time off really is good for business. Right. Um, in a balance, um, and, and, and everything has to be a balance.

    Right. Um, so I would love to. Turn, um, as we, as we look at, um, the last, last, you know, 15 minutes or so we have on this talk, I would love to turn our attention [00:45:00] to, you know, we’ve talked about how do we think about this organizationally? How do we think this about this as individuals? Um, and so, you know, one thing that I coach people on is having a, some sort of system, uh, productivity.

    um, system or planner, um, something that you trust that can capture all the different things that you have in your personal and professional life. Um, and so, you know, I, um, I I’m, I would love to share, you know, some of the things that, that I utilize myself and things that I work with clients on. But I would love to open it up and, and tap into the wisdom of this group, because you all have, have shared such great insights in terms of as what are systems, what, what are time management systems that you use?

    So there’s so many of these out there. There’s the Franklin Covey planner. There’s the focus planner. There’s the dream planner. [00:46:00] There’s um, the getting things done system, there’s the bullet journal method. Um, there’s all kinds of, um, digital tools for this, um, project planning tools and individual tools.

    Um, so I would love to just hear, um, from the room, what are, what are ways that you keep yourself organized and keep track of all the different priorities that you have in your personal and professional life. And do you like it, would you re.

    I honestly have no idea what this is called, but I do the plain simple old school bullet point list. and I write it. I do know that if I write it down, I will remember. Um, so I, I am very strict with myself about writing everything I need to do down a piece of paper with a bullet point. Style. So I know it’s a task that I need to get done and I’ve [00:47:00] tried other systems and reminders and digital things, and they just don’t work as well as me writing it down a piece of paper that might just be me.

    Oh, go ahead, Michele. Yeah. I’m one of those people that are always looking for the perfect system. Um, right now we’re actually on our team trying out, um, monday.com, which we have high hopes for, you know, one of the challenges is we all have to kind of commit to using it or it doesn’t work so well. So I I’m, yeah.

    I’m interested in hearing like you are. Things that people say work, but I’m also an old fashioned list maker and I’m trying to, you know, expand something more, um, technology based.[00:48:00] 

    Great. Thank you so much, um, to both of your share for sharing. Um, you know, so Olivia, I think you are definitely not alone. A lot of folks use, um, the old fashioned. And, um, Michele, I am with you. I am always looking for the perfect system and as somebody that does trainings on time management, I’ve used a lot of them.

    And I have walked with people that have used a lot of different systems. Um, and I’ll say, I’ll say up front friends, there is no perfect system out there. Um, they, there are good enough systems out there. Um, and the re there’s there’s no perfect system. That’s gonna magically. Your work life balance.

    However, the right system is one that you actually use. And I think that’s so important because whatever it is that you use, um, it’s not gonna work for you if you don’t use it. Um, and there’s studies that show that takes an average of [00:49:00] three months. To fully implement a time management system. Um, and what’s interesting about this Gabby.

    It reminds me of something you said earlier, you said you think about your time as money. Um, I also, um, work with people on budgets. I oversee, um, finance as part of my role at, um, my organization and I have found in personal budget and, um, personal finance, the same rule exists when people are creating.

    Personal or household budgets that it takes three months to actually really utilize. and implement a budget system. So it’s interesting that you Gabby made the parallel between time and money, because that’s actually, um, interesting that it takes three months to use a budget and it takes, takes three months to use an individual time management system.

    Um, and so what I wanna touch on here is a little different than, um, organization time management systems, which are things could be things like Asana and slack, or maybe, um, you know, something that you mentioned, [00:50:00] Michele. Um, this is really. What is an individual, um, system that you can use to track all the different prior priorities that you have and that you have moving.

    And so, um, there are a lot of them out there. I personally really like the bullet journal method and, um, the bullet bullet journal method is a book written by a guy named writer, Carol. It’s a great book. He talks about how he’s somebody who really struggled with ADHD and struggled with a system to really help him get things done.

    Um, he created the bullet journal system. Um, the, we, we talked, uh, I think it was last week or two weeks ago. How we don’t wanna let perfect be the enemy of the good, so perfect. Would be if you decide you wanna go read the. But don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. If you’re interested in the bullet journal system, I recommend you watch the three minute video that’s on YouTube that introduces it.

    And what is the bullet journal? It, um, essentially is, um, a, a notebook that contains sections [00:51:00] that help you log all of your to-dos, but also help you keep, um, weekly and monthly calendars. It’s a place to jot down notes, but also to jot down. Next actionable next steps in our conversation two weeks ago, we talked about the importance of having action focused, next steps, um, and also to track your psychological and your mental health.

    Um, several of you, um, have mentioned mental health. Um, on the call today and the importance of protecting mental health. Um, and it’s also is a great way to track short term and long term goals. Um, and I have personally found, you know, some people like digital tools and there’s some good ones out there. I like having something physical.

    Um, Olivia you mentioned when you write something down, then that will help you remember it and get it done. And there’s a lot of studies that sh that back that up that show. If you have something that’s analog. When you’re physically writing something that that can make a big difference, both in terms of memory, but also in terms of follow through in terms of actually getting something done.

    Um, so [00:52:00] if you don’t have a system, I highly recommend having a personal individual. System for getting things done, um, as a way to help enhance your work life balance or your work life integration, because there’s so much that is coming at us on the day to day. Right. And so really, you know, what I do with clients is I work with clients to really think about let’s collect everything that’s on your mind.

    Everything that’s on your mind. Let’s collect all the to-dos, everything that you may think of. In fact, I put lists in front of people that help prompt them of, oh, I need to do that. Their, um, implementation. And then we put it into a system that you trust and that’s super, super important. Um, because I think that if you’re gonna have an individual time management system again, it’s no good if you don’t use it.

    And then the importance of reviewing it consistently, that’s something that I [00:53:00] work with, um, clients on of making sure that, you know, you’re not only putting it into something, but you’re also taking a look at. On a daily, weekly basis. So I would love to open it up to the, um, to the room one final time and would love to hear if, if folks have, um, anything to chime in on anything to add on that, as you think about, you know, tracking your own to-dos, um, in your personal and professional life, um, things that you have found particularly helpful either if you have a system you use or you don’t, you don’t have a system, but you found some.

    Ways, um, and, and hacks that have really helped you as you think about, um, managing, um, all the things that we have in our work life and our professional, professional and personal.

    So I’ll add, um, I use Trello for my team and we use Google drive. [00:54:00] Um, we have a lot of Che lists and I pretty much just made those templates from scratch, just so they’re specific to our team process. And then when it comes to planning out my day, I like to do a bulleted. Um, bulleted notes, like on a physical piece of paper, on a notepad.

    And I think this part is important. If you have something like, let’s say it’s gonna take three steps. Don’t just write what that thing is down. Write the three steps as three individual bullet points, because you’re gonna check these items off. I personally like to cross through them and it’s gonna help you feel like you’re actually accomplishing stuff.

    Instead of, you know, you wrote that down and you didn’t get it done, cuz it has three steps. Now you got the first two done and tomorrow you’re gonna transfer the third one to your new list. So I date my. Um, and I like to do it the night before, or like early in [00:55:00] the morning before anyone gets up, it just helps me feel prepared for my day.

    And then anything that doesn’t get done just gets transferred over to tomorrow’s list.

    Thank you so much, Gabby. I love your insights on how. you both do this organizationally and how you do this personally. And, um, you know, transferring the different priorities reminds me of so many different time management systems that are out there. And I think is a super smart, um, way to approach this.

    Um, well this has been such, um, a helpful conversation. I’ve learned new things on here, and I’m just so appreciative of our speakers. Um, and the folks in the chat, um, who have. Contributed, um, insights into this just really important and huge and rich topic. Um, so thank you. And I’m gonna, um, think, [00:56:00] turn things over back to you, Michele.

    Excellent. Thank you so much, Amber. This has been part of a three part series. So if you wanna go back and look at this session, as well as the last. And at least 200 other ones, please go to ww.startup.club. You can, um, read transcripts or listen to the replays or look at a blog post. Um, we are quite committed here on startup club to getting you this good, useful content.

    Um, if you want to get notified about really cool talks like this. And others like the serial entrepreneur, which will be on tomorrow at 5:00 PM. Eastern, you can, uh, feel free to sign up for the newsletter. Uh, that typically is about once a week and we promise that we do not spam. So once again, thank you for all the members for this special, um, little [00:57:00] three part series that Amber has brought to us.

    And I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m sure, hoping that we can get her back to talk more about this topic and maybe even on our own show. So thank you for participating in the complete entrepreneur and the startup network. Thank you so much members. And thank you so much, Amber. Thank you so much, Michele.

    Have a wonderful long weekend. Thank you.

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