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Conference Notes: Finding Your Own Work-Life Balance

Last week, the FBC hosted its final conference of 2012: Work-Life Balance from NowGen to NxG. Our speakers and panelists touched on a number of different topics, and shared insights and tips on how you can achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Entrepreneur’s Success Code


Jeff Burrows, author of The Entrepreneur’s Success Code helped tackle the work-portion of the work-life equation. Jeff shared stories and insights about how to become a great leader at work in order to make room for other things in your life. Lots of great stuff – take a look at some of Jeff’s key takeaways:

  • Do you know what your employee’s strengths are? If not, schedule regular employee development meetings and find out. Employees should spend 75% of their time in what Jeff calls, their strength zone.
  • Find out which hat you wear the most. Are you an entrepreneur, a manager, a technician or an inventor? When your strengths connect with the requirements of your job, the results are creativity, synergy, accomplishment and joy.
  • Hiring the right people is a science. Know what questions to ask during the interview: What do you like about our business? What does integrity mean to you? How would you incorporate those characteristics into our company culture? The answers a person gives will help you find the perfect fit.

Managing Priorities from One Generation to the Next


FBC members Ben Barnett (G2, VP of Principal Manufacturing), Greg Bush (G4, CEO of McCarthy-Bush Corp.), Gigi Cohen (G3, EVP of Magid Glove and Safety) and Alison O’Hara (G4, Chair, Board of Directors and Acting President and CEO of Follett Corp.) shared how they maintain a healthy work-life balance. Their unique points-of-view as family business members struck a chord with everyone in the room. Here’s a peak at what was said:

  • Times have changed. Family members in a family business can’t be expected to be the first one in and the last one out. If you have to work from home because a kid is sick, then so be it. Don’t feel guilty about decisions like these. There has to be flexibility and the understanding that not everything has to get done in one day.
  • Days and weeks must have a rhythm. Try and work on projects from big to small–move the ball forward on as many things as you can in a single week.
  • Set boundaries. There are some meetings you have to be there for. But some things you can push aside or deal with later. Don’t be afraid to tell the business what you need.
  • Instead of dividing time-off into various categories (vacation, sick, etc.) try using a PTO system. So long as people are getting the work done and not abusing the system, PTO is a great way to give employees (both family and non-family) the flexibility for a balanced life.

Setting Boundaries: Turn off the technology and Get on with your Life


FBC facilitator’s Fraser Clark and Mary Nelson, also of ARC Leadership, wrapped up the day with a more scientific approach to balancing work and life. Both shared some of the latest concepts around how to stay focused, organized and less stressed.

  • When organizing your day, schedule big, complex tasks or projects early. Your brain is at its peak during this time: fresh, energized and ready to roll.
  • Checking email is considered a low-burn activity. Take a scan of your inbox first thing in the morning for anything urgent. Save the rest of the replies for later, after you’ve completed more complex tasks.
  • Manage your environment. Turn off your ring tone, move your monitor and close your office door. If you start to get distracted, take a break and refresh.

Work-life balance can be a tricky thing–especially for family business members. What difficulties have you encountered trying to evenly balance work and life? Maybe you’ve got some advice to share with fellow FBC members. Leave a comment below–we always love hearing what you’ve got to say.

  • By Tim Schroeder on 11.13.2012 at 5:48 pm

    Panels like these are great for both professionals as well as students. It seems as though, many students dread graduating because they will be immediately shuffled into the corporate machine and become robots. But when they get the chance to see how actual professionals maintain a great job, in addition to a great life, it is very reassuring. One last thing, it seems that people are always concerned about people in the workforce and their work-life balance, but students must also be mindful of their school-life balance. Universities can be overwhelming at times, and students must find ways to develop a healthy way of balancing school and life, which probably share many similarities with professionals looking to balance their work and life.

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