Category Archives: work/life balance

Dad lessons

“Do as I say not as I do!” – This was/is a favourite saying from my Dad.  Normally trotted out when we as kids, busted doing something, which we found amusing.  Talking with his mouthful and farting/burping in public being a few examples that you cannot go past.  (Those last two normally followed with the infamous “Where ever you may be, let your wind go free”)

———> MY Dad!

Now I’m an experienced Dad (well, I’ve been one now for 8.5 years and have now ramped my Dadness up to cover 3 (not so) little tykes, I’m finding myself morphing into my parents.  Sadly (I feel) it’s not just at home.  It’s creeping into my work life.  It’s quite confronting when you realise that you have people in your team, who are almost a generation younger than you!

I felt this yesterday.  I took an annual leave day to spend what turned out to be a stunning day with the family.  Being school holidays and all, it was the least I could do to at least seem like I was shouldering the load with my wife.  It was a great day, weather wise, couldn’t have asked for better, best Spring day for the season.  We jam packed it with activities which were fun for all of us.  We laughed when we heard about the traffic chaos almost shutting poor Melbourne town down, as I wasn’t needing to battle it.  We played, we worked in the garden, we got haircuts and we played some more!  It was gold!

But I was still drawn to the phone, the little mobile office in my pocket.  I only took one call, which we concluded in less than 2 minutes, but I was still compelled to check.  I’m not sure why.. I’m not a workaholic (sorry boss), sure I enjoy what I do and have a real passion for it, but reflecting back…. seriously? one day?  My mistress iPhone gets me in. (I get grumpy with my team do it) I can remember the days when you just travelled somewhere.  If you were out and someone wanted to catch you, you had to leave a message on a cassette tape on the answering machine (I think I’ve lost my Gen Y readers – check this for clarification) I couldn’t take calls, I couldn’t check status’ (that was done at the pub with the lads) and my message bank was a number of red slips of paper in my cubby hole at work when I returned to the office!  I’m wondering how my kids will actually be able to take a break from the office? They’ll be doing stuff we haven’t even thought of yet.

Is this a comment on me? society? a new working culture?  Does it make you good at your job or just bad at living?

Funnily, I accepted a meeting invitation which takes all of a microsecond to click “Yes” I’ll attend.  This acceptance was followed by a quick email, in capitals no less from one of MY team, saying “GET OFF THE EMAIL!”.  Humph… Double Humph!!!!  She was right mind you, and I would have done exactly the same thing, if the roles had been reversed.  But come on, “Do as I say not as I do!!” I can say that right? 😉

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5 Lessons learned

So…. I’m now ten months into this job with Peerlo now, time flies huh?

It’s been an interesting journey, it’s been a fun journey, but I tell you what…. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, about a lot of things, even myself! So far some of the interesting discoveries have been

1) I broke a promise to myself over the last couple of years. Almost 10 years ago I promised myself that I wouldn’t out stay my welcome in a company again (after doing that) However, I think I stayed too long in my last role. Nothing against the company, this is a me thing. I got stuck in a rut, I saw the world through “What it could be” glasses as opposed to those indispensable “Reality glasses”. I kept thinking things would change, that when common sense prevailed, my role would evolve. Bottom line: Pollyanna 0 Reality 1. I see it now, deep down I probably knew it then, but knowing it and doing something about it is a completely different thing.

I can see now, how my mental stimulation has changed. Just check out my blogs (or lack thereof) of late. I used to write until all hours of the morning. I had to expire my mental energy before I could sleep… Now days, I can barely stay up passed 11 (OK I am getting old). I miss it as I really enjoy writing, but a lot of the time, once I get home, help my wife get the kids off to bed, I”m mentally stuffed.

2) I was way too nice in my last role. Not saying I’m an out and out bastard now, however, in helping to build this business I’ve found some leads, nay potential clients, I’ve known for a while, try to take advantage of me. Assuming I’d take the bottom of the barrel deal being offered and be thankful. Nope… I’m all about mutual professional respect now. Don’t want to respect me and what I do? Think you can do it better? Cheaper? Better value? By all means be my guest. My Brand, My Companies Brand won’t be placed in a subservient position. To quote Patrick Swayze “Nobody puts Baby in the Corner”

3) I don’t have to wear a suit every day to the office to be a professional or to be productive! (I actually had it in my mind that I did, this was a tough paradigm to shake!)

4) I respect myself and the industry I am in. Discussions I’ve been able to have with prospective clients, who are now real clients have been great for reaffirmation. Not that I am shy on self belief, however when your message has gotten old and stale and no-one really listens after you’ve been in a place for an eternity, it is heartening to rekindle the confidence in you do know your stuff.

5) Work life balance is achievable without the guilt. I work in an environment where maturity is expected. Families are respected. You deliver, what you say you’re going to deliver, when you say you’re going to deliver it, and you can be anywhere, doing anything (within reason)

It’s interesting. How all my roles to date have led me to this role. How everything I’ve learned about Recruiting, business, respect and fun can be encapsulated in conversations I have daily with the owner of the business. They have been the building blocks to where I am now both personally and professionally. I’m really looking forward to stacking up more of these blocks and seeing where it will take us. I have grand plans, Peerlo has grand plans…. Watch this space the boy is growing up!

IMPOSSIBLE… NO! I’M POSSIBLE

Busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

I love that saying…..

Is wanting it all a bit much? I want the work life balance. The real thing, not a 60/40 split. Something always gives. Option a) You spend too much time in the office to deliver stuff and the family suffers, Option b) you leave early to look after family stuff and eyebrows in the office are raised. Especially the higher up to food chain you travel.

I’ve been lucky, in my career of late I’ve been in a company which, not only talks the talk, it walks the walk in this way. We don’t expect any more than 40 hours a week, we keep travel to a minimum, as we seriously respect our people’s time.

This last week I’ve been interviewing some pretty senior people for our business, and find our conversations heading down the work/life balance path at times. Especially with more mature people who have been around for a while. I hear the stories about their global successes, their travel, the wins the losses etc (and a lot of times their divorces). Each one seems to have sacrificed the home front for amazing gains in the business world.

Is this ideal of Work/Life balance a myth? Is it impossible? Is there a certain level within an organisation where the ideal becomes null and void, with a “we pay you $x, we own you now” mentality.

IMPOSSIBLE? bugger that.. I’M POSSIBLE.

I’d like to think I have a handle on priorities in life. And you know what… I want, ney I’m having both. Why? Because I can. Why not!

Hours don’t maketh the employee, quality does. Same goes for parenting.

As mentioned in a previous post, my wife and I are expecting child number 3 come April. All kinds of challenges are running through my mind, one child starting school, one starting kinder, one, well just basically starting. It’s hard yakka, which most likely my wife will bear the brunt of initially. Work will be there, this too is full on, if it’s to be done properly and it needs and deserves to be done properly. It pays the bills, it’s fun and it gives me a sense of who I am too.

I’m hoping with child number 3, I’ll be more self aware than I was with the first two. I know what is expected of me from both camps and I know what worked and what didn’t previously… and I’m ready for it. I have more tools and resources available to me now, and I’ll be prepared.

I will still hit my personal goals and career goals… why? quite simply… to channel my Dad.. “BECAUSE I SAID SO! THAT’S WHY!” (don’t make me come over there)

Is Work over rated?

Oh that was nice to write, however if my boss is reading this.. please read beyond the initial title. It’s nice though isn’t it?

However, I am talking about the “office” environment, that place I disappear to 7ish each morning after kissing my kids and wife goodbye and mystically return from 11-12 hours later.

Today I did something I have not done for lots of years. I had a day working from home. Dropped the kids off at Kinder and the grandparents respectively, picked up a coffee and headed to the dining room table, my laptop and my cordless phone. To quote a great Australian movie.. “Ahhh the Serenity!”

And that is it. I sat down at that table, didn’t move for 5 hours, I powered through stuff, phone interviews, conference calls, candidate searching, advertising, finding a rich talent vein (look out #auteched I’m coming for you!), reference checks, read cvs, made an offer… ohhh it rocked. All for what would be 17 second commute.

OK, so my phone bill may look a little crazy, and I’m sure my team really missed me, but it was pretty cool.

That said, my last efforts of working from home weren’t as successful. The last time I was doing this under the guise of running my own business. People kept dropping to say hi, looking for a coffee and a chat.

I have to say this day rocked! I powered through the day, barely noticing the hours passing until I started feeling a little cold…. I hadn’t had the heater on all day (and I’ll tell you, it’s definitely not summer here)

Do I need to be in the office to be effective? Why would my company care? Am I that good looking that they need to see me every day? I surely doubt it.

Why? well my bottom line…..

It is hard to replace the face to face contact, real relationships (which is what makes a successful business person) aren’t forged without them. So even though this is great for me to live in my mind. This is first life, not Secondlife people, but wouldn’t it be nice once in a while?

Dr Jeckell and Mr Hyde.. or more millennial… THE HULK.. Are we the same beast at work and at home?


Am I a different person at work and at home? Should I be? Isn’t being me the thing I do best?

At the start of my career I used to laugh at some girls in my office, who had an official phone voice….. you know the types, they would be talking to you normally, the phone would ring and then the voice would lower, their vocabulary would dramatically increase and the IQ would seem 20% higher. I could never understand it… why not be yourself? It is easier right?

Probably, but also probably not effective.

I’m not sure what happened to make me think about this question again, but something did and it has been burning inside for a little while. And then I had to ask myself the question… am I different at home, than what I am at home? You know what? I was shocked to find that I am. It shocked me. WHY? a) What’s wrong with everything Home Dan (HD) is that I want to keep him away from Work Dan (WD) and vice versa? b) Are the two versions of me embarrassed of one another?

The answer to those questions is a) NOTHING and b) NO.. neither HD or WD embarrass easily!

You need to have adaptable versions of yourself, you can’t react the same to everyone, ie for example your boss versus your kids.

Having a WD and an HD in my persona surprised me, how did this happen? why? when? and why didn’t I know about it? 🙂 I didn’t tell me…

Perhaps it is the fact that eventually the WD decided that to progress he had to grow up, to visibly mature. To look, act and sound like the professional I wanted to be. The relaxed, uber easy going attitude of HD had to be replaced, with a visibly focused and driven Dan. (It’s amazing how walking quickly around the office changes perception about your state of mind. Don’t scoff, Seinfield science works! AKA the Pensky file)

WD gets listened to a lot more than HD, is it a kid and wife thing versus the fact that WD does people’s performance review and that people get paid to listen to WD?

WD expects people to have their own minds, and for them to deliver, what is promised (yet tries to plan for non delivering). HD definitely wants to tell the kids what to do (bad dad) and gets more disappointed when people let him down, and leaves planning to others. WD is probably tougher on people and with himself, HD is more easy going. WD wont shy away from difficult conversations, HD doesn’t see the point of making waves on little points. HD picks his battles more, WD knows he sometimes has to put it out there.

WD thinks more before he opens his mouth, HD just lets things flow and is quite happy talking junk. WD laughs quieter than HD! 🙂

There is a point however where they intersect? You see a stressed WD makes a grumpy and quiet HD. A bad day at the office reflects more on HD, than a bad day/night at home reflects on WD.

Is there a preference that I’d prefer to be? HD or WD? you know what? I’m happy with the mix… my household may like to see more WD at times, and my work may want to see more HD at times. We are all a work in progress, both sides of me are developing, learning and hopefully becoming a better version of me everyday.

I’d like it known now however, I no longer scoff or laugh at the different phone voices of the girls in the office.

Work travel and work life balance

Now there’s a conundrum. How does one make the two work together. I am writing this from a hotel room, after a day of interviewing and attending one of the most inspiring meetings I have been to in years. I thought I must have been out of words… obviously not.

How does one travel for work and still maintain the family life? Is it really possible to juggle? I tried.. but not sure if I succeeded.. I stepped out of that awesome meeting as it was time at home to sing bedtime songs, a wonderful tradition we do every night (I really hope the door shut behind me, well there was no laughing or pointing when I returned so it must have been OK.)

By doing that though, was I doing either one full justice? I felt guilty for only being on the phone with my kids, and I felt guilty for stepping away from the meeting. (I got over the meeting guilt quite quickly I must admit)

With technology now, if you’re smart you can find ways of avoiding travel, skype has been my best friend, I’ve done countless meeting and interviews throughout the world with this, saving thousands and getting decent results, however nothing really replaces face to face contact, meeting the people across the table, shaking their hand and looking them in the eye whilst you talk with them. Applies to everything, clients, candidates and colleagues, relationships are built face to face, even with social networking, it cannot oust the human touch. Being told how good a place or vibe is, is not replacement for experiencing it. However, the plan must be sound, I get to see my wife and kids almost every night, and the results of recruits is magnificent, if yesterday’s meeting is anything to go by.

I have friends who travel heaps for their job… it’s tough, they miss heaps… I wonder a lot how they do it, or is it a case of that to be successful there have to be sacrifices? It is not a glamorous thing as it sounds to people how don’t do it.

It is ironic I think, or a cruel twist of fate, that around the 30ish age mark you really start to make a mark in your career, or have to to lay the foundations for your future, but it is also the time that people start to have families. Well you want to progress and excel in your career to set up your families future, but you also want to be there to experience all the family stuff, and they need you too. I have seen people who are strangers to their kids due to their work commitments, very sad. It is tough for parents with duelling responsibilities and those that support them at home.

If you are part of a National company or a global organisation, is it possible to be successful, or be in a senior role and not travel? Is it naive to expect to have that balance, or greedy to demand it? And if you are you able to keep that balance? I think as budgets get cut at the moment, and a lot of business travel has been reduced it is a thought that can and should be be discussed in preparation for the next wave really starts. I welcome comments on this please.