How To Integrate Work-Life Balance
Michael has 25+ years as an C-level executive and is the CEO of Impact Enterprises. He has also worked companies ranging from startup to $7 billion with a focus of VC backed technology and is a master at organizational re-design and startups. During his time, 100+ million capital has been raised.
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In the Now: Mike O’Hara
Heard of work-life integration? Serial CEO Mike O’Hara introduces this intriguing concept in his conversation with Nowspeed.
Read the interview snapshot and listen to the full conversation here.
Nowspeed: Hi, my name is Dave Reske and welcome to this edition of In the Now, where we focus on uncovering myths and misunderstandings of marketing leadership with some of the world’s most interesting people. And my guest today is Michael O’Hara, CEO of Impact Enterprises, who will talk about work life balance.
Mike: Great to be here.
Nowspeed: So, Michael has a fantastic resume. He’s served as CEO and COO at a variety of SaaS. technology education, marketing and lead generation companies. He has experience working with global and domestic companies and leadership development, scaling revenues, organizational design, marketing, and capital development. And he has a broad history in a variety of business strategies, including lead generation sales, technology M&A, and finance with companies ranging from early stage to multi-billion dollars in annual revenue. Wow, that’s impressive. I’m exhausted just thinking about all you’ve done.
Mike: My mother wrote it. Ha.
Nowspeed: Well, your mother is a very good publicist for you. I’ll ask you later what your favorite role was. We’ve worked together with clients and I’ve always appreciated your strategic thinking, and your focus on getting things done. Not everybody can do both of those things. So, I’m looking forward to talking more about that. In preparation for this call, we had a great conversation about work-life balance, and I’d like to ask you to start by smashing a myth about creating work-life balance in your life and your career. Should people be doing that?
Mike: It doesn’t exist. And I liken it to we’d sooner find a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow with a pot of gold than you’re going to find work-life balance. I see these comments all the time about how you need to achieve balance and you do need to have balance. You need to set your priorities about home. If your kid is sick, you need to be with your child. If your wife needs you or your partner needs you, you need to be there.
But at the end of the day, it occurred to me when someone asked, ‘How do you balance life and work? You’re always working, it seems like,’ that I was thinking about my wife and how she had let me do my job at one point in time at an office in Israel where they work Sunday through Thursday and you can’t not be working when they’re open. And it occurred to me that I had figured out an alternative work-life balance and I call it work-life integration.
So you allow work to be integrated into your life and you allow life to be integrated into your work. If you need to do an email at 9 or 10 o’clock at night, you send out the email; if you need to be home because your child is sick and your partner needs to be working, you go home; if you want to be a dad and go watch your daughter play her fieldhockey game, and you don’t feel guilty about leaving the office.
At the same time, you don’t feel guilty when you’re doing a little work on a Sunday night in front of the NFL. It’s how can you integrate your whole life into your whole life. And it’s not that you don’t set priorities. I had a colleague at one time who was a chairman, and his daughter was sick and in Boston and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, you need to be there.’ I said, ‘I’ll cover for you, everything will be fine.’ He said, ‘No, I’m not going to go. I don’t need to be there.’ And I thought to myself, being a dad is the most important thing. Being a son and being a husband is probably second, and being an employee is number three. Yet, some people will say, you never stopped working. Work is my mistress. But I also know how to prioritize that. So it’s work life integration.
Nowspeed: That’s really powerful. Let me just see if we can unpack that a little bit for different situations. Does it work? Or, is it easier when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re running your own business? Or, you’re working for somebody else in a big company and you’re not working remote? Can you achieve work-life integration as easily if you work for someone else?
Mike: Not only can you do it, but it’s all about managing and setting expectations with your superiors. If you’re the CEO, it’s your board of directors or the chairman. for example. If you’re a line worker or something like that, it’s your supervisor — ‘I’m gonna be at my daughter’s soccer game. And I’ll certainly make up for that. I do that because I’m always working.’
I think it’s really imperative that people have that kind of conversation of equal stature with their bosses, with their supervisors and their understanding. I think they’ll watch and say, ‘Wow, he really does work hard and she’s always wired.’
If you send information or a text or a Slack message off hours or something, do you respond to texts like that? I have had to have conversations with people to say, ‘If the place is burning down, you call me at three o’clock in the morning on Sunday. That’s okay. If you’re calling me to check in like, Hey, how are you doing? How’s your weekend? at 10 o’clock on Sunday night, that’s crossing over a bit too far.’ So it’s just managing those expectations…
Make sure to watch the full conversation here.