Leadership: The Work-Life Balance Conundrum

Holly Meloy SVP, Managing Director

Holly Meloy
SVP, Managing Director

Four Tips to Stop Working and Start Werking

Since the birth of my daughter, Take Your Child to Work Day has taken on new meaning and become a more significant event in my life. I recognize the importance of this day and believe it is an occasion to celebrate and recognize hard work.

But what is Work?

I work the moment I get up. And I work hard as a parent, too. It’s work to feed her, dress her, tend to her each and every want, need, sneeze and boo-boo. The reality is, I’m working awfully hard to go to work. So where does work start and where does it end? (Hint: starts with coffee, ends with wine.) And if I’m to bring her to work for that one special day a year, what do I want her to know?
I want my daughter to know she can be anything one day. She can run an agency like her mom, or be a horse jockey in the Kentucky Derby. She can spin records on the Riviera, or operate on those in need. Whatever it is she wants to do, I don’t want her life to feel like her life is hard work. Maybe the problem is in the word and its connotation. Work is outdated, insufficient. Unsatisfying. Work can be so much more.

Ditch the Work. Embrace the Werk.

Werk sounds a lot sexier than work, doesn’t it? It’s got a Rihanna spin to it, something you can jam to, brag about. Werk is lighthearted. A bit rebellious, too. (I don’t need no spellcheck!) Werk is living, Work is surviving. Werk can go with the flow or swim upstream. Because Werk evolves and adapts. Werk has real attitude. And sure, I know this because I have a job at Marketing Werks, not Marketing Works. But I’m also part of PromoWorks … and that’s the whole point: Werk is a state of mind.

Four Ways to Werk Instead of Work

1. Stay Curious

We have a program at Marketing Werks to award those who stay curious. In fact, we give them a Curious George doll (along with a lump of cash). Kids are always curious. And as a result, they problem-solve like it’s their job. Curiosity leads to innovation. But as adults, we tend to go through the motions to get everything done instead. Staying curious means asking questions and being present in every conversation and engagement. It means trying new activities and making ourselves vulnerable. We can’t check off our list and call it a day if we want to evolve. Staying curious means staying young.

2. Talk to Someone New Every Day

Whether it’s the coffee barista, the security guard, another parent at your kid’s school, or a colleague you typically do not converse with, make it a point to talk to someone new every day. Go beyond the weather and social niceties. Ask them what’s the coolest thing they’ve done in the last month. Where they dream of going and why? New conversations check us in and remind us that we’re living not working.

3. Smile More, Talk Less

You know that feeling when your interlocutor has tuned out and is only waiting for his chance to talk? The glazed eyes, parted mouth cue the incoming interruption. Too bad for him too, because he stopped listening; he missed a message and the chance to have a true exchange. We all do it. But I’ve found when you smile more and talk less, not only do you set the stage for positivity, you learn something unexpected simply by setting the stage to listen.

4. Take Home One Positive Story

It’s too easy to take home our bad baggage. You come home exhausted and want to complain to whomever will listen (a happy-hour buddy, a toddler, a spouse, or maybe just that happy-hour empty glass). The more we focus on what went badly, the more we’ll do it tomorrow. It’s the basic concept of neoplasticity. When you bring home your bad day, your brain wires a neural pathway for that memory. If you do it again, the pathway goes from dirt to gravel. Do it again and now you’ve got blacktop. Don’t create a negative highway. We must change our mindsets to bring home a positive story — and you know what? In requiring this positive story we’ll ensure we get one, even if it means creating it ourselves. That’s the best kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
What’s your trick for work/life balance? How do you transform work from a job to a fun aspect of your life? Werk on it.

David Rothkopf