Carefully Crafted on April 06

The Business of You

Today’s guest post is from Lisa Grimm (@lulugrimm on Twitter). As social media strategist for Mall of America, Lisa has to have one of the coolest jobs. And, just watch the creative digital ideas Mall of America is implementing (like this Snap+Win on Black Friday), and it’s easy to see that Lisa knows her stuff. I’ve had the chance to meet Lisa a couple times, and every time I see her, I think, “Gosh, I really need to get to find a way to talk to her more!” She’s the perfect balance of smart, funny and nice (a rarer combination than you’d think!). Before you go follow Lisa, take a few minutes to read her Follow Friday guest post. My favorite line? “Call the kettle and trailblaze.”

The lovely Heather Whaling, who I don’t see or talk to enough, asked me to contribute here more than a month ago. Due to what has been a relentlessly insane schedule, I agreed that I could get her something several weeks out. As I sit down to write this it’s Thursday night at 8 p.m. and this post is scheduled for tomorrow. I’m exhausted and plagued by a long to-do list on my desk, a weekend away to prepare for, personal and family commitments and a general layer of grumpiness and stress about it all. Just having acknowledged it in writing makes me breathe easier and feel better. And that’s what I want to talk a bit about here – how recognizing [you]rself is what matters most in PR and business today – not Pinterest, Path or how Google is making glasses that will require us to take one or two less actions to navigate through life – and how it somehow relates to PR.

I’ve had a slew of alarming conversations as of late. People unhappy, unfulfilled, passionless, miserable, lacking curiosity and just plain lost. They lack confidence in themselves and are so concerned about doing things the “right way” based on what someone told them instead of the way that best suits them (and just to clarify, I’m speaking generally, not about work assignments). Folks who are so busy seeking answers to other people’s questions, they forget about the questions they have of the world and themselves. People who are terrified to admit they don’t have it all together because they think it looks better than asking for help or just saying no. All of these are learned behaviors. They’ve learned them from their parents, school, from working in a sick culture or being an active participant in an environment where they never questioned what they were told. It seems with all of the holes we’re able to fall in across our personal and professional lives, the need for taking good care of ourselves and finding balance between home and work is more important than ever.

A prime example of this came yesterday when COO of Facebook, mom, wife and all around wicked cool gal Sheryl Sandberg, was “brave enough” to go public about going home at 5:30 each night so she can eat dinner with her children. If you don’t know who she is, what she does and represents, you should look into it.

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,” Sandberg said in a new video for Makers.com. ”I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

The first thought that came to mind is, “how sad that this is even a conversation in our society.” The second thought that came to mind was, “thanks for using your platform to combat crap like this, Sheryl!”

The reality for the PR pro of today (and several other business professionals) is an unrealistic pressure and expectation to perform at an unsustainable level that has a really high burn out rate. The levels of burn out vary. Most of us are expected to fulfill an insane amount of functions across our respective organizations. PR is responsible for full-blown content creation and several digital functions not traditionally infused into agencies or corporate teams. This creates not just a higher volume of work, but also the bureaucracy and political struggles with movement of practice areas within organizations.

A few anecdotes I’ve dolled out lately…

Understanding what’s important. Whether you have a roommate, spouse, live at home or on your own, the relationships of substance in our lives are paramount to everything else. Without them (and everyone has at least one – hopefully), doing anything else well for a sustained period is difficult. Few people defy this.

Physical, mental and spiritual health. Everyone approaches their physical, mental and spiritual health differently, but as far as I can tell, many of us should be more concerned about ourselves first so we have the opportunities to be better employees, spouses, parents, or whatever roles make up your life. These are personal things and everyone seeks fulfillment in these areas differently. I find that if my spiritual life is sound, my relationships and body are much easier to take care of. I’m not a religious person by any means, but I pray and mediate and find it extremely powerful and beneficial. I do yoga and walk, which give me nice chunks of time to be with me.

Introspection and Communication. It never fails to blow my mind how poor professional communicators can be at communicating with themselves and those closest what’s going on and what is needed. DO THIS. It is vital. I did it (in essence) at the beginning of this post [I’ve got too much on my plate and I need to acknowledge it so it doesn’t become something totally unmanageable].  It’s really helpful to humanize yourself a bit. I run a million miles a minute, which is semi-natural for me but has limits, especially because I have several personal responsibilities to balance it with.

Call the kettle and trailblaze. I’m a big advocate for speaking up when you feel the need, whether praise or seeking to solve injustice. If enough of us do it, eventually things will morph into something better. Sheryl stood up and said she leaves at 5:30, which sets a different tone for women and men juggling a lot at work and a lot at home. I mean, what’s so scary about speaking up anyway? At the end of the day if we don’t we run the risk of watching what we believe in and value get crushed by someone else.

What would you add?

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