Click here to check out the interview, or listen below!
by Anna Staritsina
Parenting is one of the most conflicting experiences in an individual’s lifetime; it intensifies the way we experience love and empathy, and tests our patience and endurance. While corporate policies have coined terms like ‘work-life balance’ and ‘working parents,’ on a personal level parents (and their colleagues) know how intertwined one’s family life and approach to their work can be.
With over 80% of the 81.4 million US families having at least one employed parent, there is no denying that parenting is a key variable in the dynamic of the country’s labor. Professional growth and caring for children cannot realistically be considered as separate and distinct topics; both are essential components of managing career and talent.
As leaders, managers, peers and entrepreneurial partners, we all must recognize the interconnectedness of family and ‘out-of-the-home’ work. This month, we’ve outlined four key ways in which parenting supports leadership and professional growth, which we can leverage:
There’s something to be said about how effective one can be be at prioritizing when faced with unrealistic timelines and conflicting demands. Most parents get an unparalleled amount of hands-on practice in managing a stream of urgent obligations on a daily basis. While on the surface, it may appear that people with a lot of responsibility outside the office would be distracted, in reality most of them are highly organized as it is the only way to juggle a multifaceted life.
After the birth of my daughters, I’ve noticed how much more active and driven I’ve become in supporting causes I think are important for our society. While working with our clients and peers, we see how the individual parenting experiences bring social consciousness to the front and center for business leaders and entrepreneurs. For example, parents have an added incentive to ensure that our world is more inclusive and that our environment is better cared for for many generations to come.
For those who share my appreciation of James McGregor Buns’ concept of Transformational Leadership, this section will come at no surprise. In his works, Mr. Burns advocated for effective leadership through empowerment of the followers, increasing their autonomy and encouraging independent growth. Remembering that a role of a leader is that of support, one that enables employees to achieve their best selves, it is easy to see the correlation between goals of business leaders and parents’ aspirations in raising their children.
Raising children comes with a (sometimes overwhelming) amount of self doubt, self examination and putting things in perspective. Like any experience of personal growth, this is a challenge, but one worth employing in a professional setting. Is it safe to assume we all know someone who could benefit from a dose of humility?
Similarly to all of the above, most skills essential to success in business leadership are equally essential to good parenting. No family or organization is perfect, yet recognizing and prioritizing inclusive cultures, respect, communication, kindness and focus on the common goal of a better future is key to success in both areas.
In conclusion, there’s no need to ‘balance’ work and life, instead, let’s embrace the ways in which they can be supportive of each other.
Mark Monchek's first book, Culture of Opportunity: How to Grow Your Business in an Age of Disorder, will be hitting newsstands and Amazon in a few short months. Until then, we are sharing an exercise from the toolkit section of the book. This exercise, called The Year of Opportunity, will help you determine goals based on your deepest values and priorities.
See the exercise below, download it for yourself, and let us know what you think!
by Kate Lara
As we’ve discussed on the blog before, The Opportunity Lab team is small and flexible in our working styles. More often than not, at least one of us is working remotely throughout the week. We’re able to continue functioning as a team fairly easily, given the technology available to us. Many of the challenges to working remotely have been solved with the ability to effectively video conference and to collaborate in real time on working documents. However, more pervasive challenges still exist for remote teams and all employees in the world of 24/7 connectivity and access to endless information. The biggest questions left to consider are:
1. How do we remain focused on our goals?
2. How do we prevent burnout in ourselves and our employees?
These questions are particularly challenging in the world of entrepreneurship, an environment familiar to the OppLab team in our innovative co-working space. Entrepreneurs have never been known as people who often prioritize a work-life balance, particularly in the early stages of a new project. The temptation to continuously work harder and investigate different directions can distract from the original intention of the organization and lead to burnout in even in the most enthusiastic start-up worker. In fact, the Harvard Business Review writes that, according to psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, the modern workplace can induce an “attention deficit trait” or, at least, can lead to “continuous partial attention” as we work through piles of emails and websites during each workday.
Much of OppLab’s tools and processes help our clients to uncover and to clarify the goals and objectives of a team or company. This approach can be a powerful antidote to the inundation of information and ideas that can derail projects from ever reaching their intended endpoint. The abilities to filter relevant information, to focus on the chosen goal, and to do so in an intentional way are all critical to the success of a new entrepreneur.
As well as interfering with productivity, this inability to focus can contribute to occupational burnout even for the most committed start-up junkie. Along with our efforts to help employees identify their professional goals and create a plan to achieve them, OppLab’s tools place equal emphasis on the need for introspection, the intentional pursuit of personal fulfillment, and the marriage of these with organizational values and goals. In fact, a mismatch in individual values with organizational values is one of the major contributors to occupational burnout, according to the Mayo Clinic.
With this values-based approach to defining what work-life balance means for each person, we build a solid foundation beyond that of a brilliant business plan and identifying an extensive professional network. Developing a rewarding personal life can be an effective firewall to the threat of professional burnout and help you to focus on the best way to intentionally pursue your organization’s goals.
Get your New Year's resolution started!
We’re excited to announce that OppLab's innovative course Unlock Your Network: Resource Mapping for Social Change will be offered as a NYU's School of Professional Studies. The course, offered on Saturdays in February and March of 2017, is part of NYU's Continuing Education program and is open to the public.
This course is ideal for business leaders, social entrepreneurs, change agents at organizations, professionals who want to be more productive and anyone who wants to make a positive difference in the world. Click here to learn more and sign up now!
by Mark Monchek
It’s been a tough year in the Earth School. The Earth School is what Gary Zukav, author of Seat of the Soul, calls the opportunity we have to use the experiences of our lifetime to learn about ourselves. Rather than feel helpless when life brings us unwanted events, the concept of the Earth School is that these events provide us with the context needed to be the creator of our own experience.
Peering through this lens I want to share with our readers what I have learned this past year in the hope that it will help provide a useful view to begin 2017. And as always, writing is a way for me to make sense of a world that at times doesn’t seem to make sense.
For the people in my life, the 2016 election was an exhausting, often wrenching ordeal. It dominated the headlines and defined the zeitgeist like no other election in my lifetime. Regardless of which side you were on, the personal attacks, confusing untruths and seeming disregard for the pressing issues our country faces was disappointing. There were many moments I wondered how America had turned so ugly and so divided along lines of class, race, sexual orientation and more.
But as always, when lessons from the Earth School have marinated long enough inside my being, the question arises - “So, what’s the opportunity?” That’s the mantra here at The Opportunity Lab, it’s the question we ask ourselves, our clients and our partners. It’s our way of pushing the reset button when we feel we are headed down the wrong road.
As 2016 comes to a close, the team at The Opportunity Lab is looking back at our top blog posts of the year. Which was your favorite? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you'd like to see more of in the new year.
by Jaki Bradley
Black Friday and Cyber Monday revenue ballooned this year, but also rising are the numbers attached to charitable giving initiative #GivingTuesday, which experts predict to raise as much as $250 million this year. In the spirit of the season, we’ve put together a few tips about how to make sure your gift does the most good possible.
How to Maximize Your Impact & Give Smartly
The Culture of Opportunity: The Opportunity Lab Guide to Building A Successful, Sustainable Business by Mark Monchek will be hitting stands early 2017! In anticipation of OppLab's first publication, here's an exclusive excerpt, a section we're calling 'The Greater Good'. Stay tuned to learn more about the book.
One of the important principles for conscious leaders building successful and sustainable businesses is what I have come to call “The Greater Good.” As we move from a culture based on scarcity and competition into a culture of abundance and collaboration, our leaders need to develop the language, actions and beliefs that support this shift. This includes the belief that doing well in service of our own interests must also include working toward the Greater Good in our communities.
For me, this change in mindset needs to begin by understanding the concept that life is sacred. For decades, America's version of capitalism did not account for the many lives impacted by business. As Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman stated, "There is one and only one social responsibility [of a business]-to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say it engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud." What Friedman and several generations of business leaders overlooked was the collateral damage of ignoring the needs of other stakeholders in the ecosystem of a business. When employees, customers, communities and the environment are treated as non-entities, it sets society on a dangerous course of competition between key segments of society. Life is not seen as sacred. Corporations are perceived to be succeeding at the expense of society.
However, this philosophy of profit over people has started to change. Michael Porter, Harvard professor, best-selling author and arguably the most important thought leader on business strategy, began to shift his view of the place of business in society over the past decade. In 2011 he published a groundbreaking article in the Harvard Business Review, co-authored with Mark Kramer, called Creating Shared Value: How to reinvent Capitalism and unleash a wave of innovation and growth. In it, they argue that in order for businesses to be successful and sustainable they need to shift its beliefs about how they create value and their responsibility for society at large. There is a need to stop measuring success through the narrow lense of short-term profit and expand it to the broader influences on long-term success.
By Anna Staritsina
Resources, Tools & References from this Article
From Tami Reiss:
From Nell Derick Debevoise:
Quick Guide for Gals: Sound Smarter in Groups
Why Women Don't Apply for Jobs Unless They're 100% Qualified
How Not to be Manterrupted in Meetings
The First Comprehensive Study of Women in Venture Capital
From Ruchika Muchhala:
From Nicole Darsney:
From Dave Gise:
Women's Lab at the Centre for Social Innovation
From Diane Tider:
From Joy Anderson:
Criterion Institute's State of the Field
Criterion Institute's TOOLKIT Workshops