Crossword: It’s a Stretch

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Three Words that Should Be Banned: Work-Life Balance

By: Jeena Cho

When I lead workshops on reducing stress, anxiety, and increasing productivity, a topic that often comes up is the idea of work-life balance. Often, the participants will express feeling like they’re failing at both work and life. When they’re at work, they often feel as though they should be home, spending time with their significant other, spouse, or children. When at home, the reverse is true. They think about all the work left undone.

I’ve also had my share of going to CLEs on having work-life balance where the speaker will give a list of 10 or so things that will magically make work and life perfectly balanced. It will often include tips like make sure you make time for yourself and go to the gym regularly or ways to manage the Inbox for increased efficiency.

Fundamentally, I believe the concept of work-life balance is flawed. It suggests there is work then there is the rest of of your life, and you must balance the two so that they can co-exist in a symbiotic relationship. Often, this mythical balance is suggested as though if only you can manage your to-do list better, work more efficiently, work faster, and do more, you can have it all. And if you can’t have it all, or do it all, you’re a failure. I think this lie we tell ourselves that work-life balance is possible if only we work harder at it is destructive. It just gets added onto the ever growing list of things we should be doing, things we should be good at.

I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about work-life balance. Instead of work-life balance, strive for a balanced life. We shouldn’t pit work against life because after all, life encompasses work. What we do for work is intimately related and a part of our life. Balance doesn’t mean you spend precisely 8 hours at the office, 8 hours at life, and 8 hours sleeping. While in many ways, that would be ideal, let’s face it, few of us live in this magical world where we can neatly divide time spent at the office and at home into nice, neat fragments.

What a balanced life look like is different for each person. I work from home 2-3 days per week, so I don’t start work at 8:30 and clock out at 6:30. In fact, this type of work setting — where you report to an office for 8 or 9+ hours — is becoming less common thanks to technology.

Rather than having nice, neat compartmentalized segments, life is looking more like a soup or a salad bowl full of all the different activities that make up this thing called life. Today for example, I’m writing this post in the morning, then I have lunch with a dear friend, followed by tea with an attorney I connected with through Twitter. In between these activities, I’ll likely check my email and respond to client matters. After that, I’ll spend some time doing “work,” then go to Bikram Yoga.

So, how do we cultivate a balanced life? First, recognize that this isn’t something you can achieve, check off your to-do list, then forget about. It requires consistent attention, effort, and practice. Each of us gets 1,440 minutes per day. Having a balanced life is allocating those very precious minutes so that it feels harmonious to you. Only you can know how to best allocate those minutes so that your life feels balanced.


Ask yourself: Who are the important people in my life that I want to spend time with? What is the difference I want to make in the world? At the end of my life, what is the legacy I want to leave? What brings joy into my life? What do I want to learn? What am I curious about?

Once you gain some clarity around those things you want to put your time and attention on, ask yourself what are the distractions or things I need to let go of? The fact is we can’t have it all. At least not at the same time. So, we must prioritize.

If you’ve been struggling with work-life balance, give yourself the permission to let go of the struggle. Consider ways of making your life more easeful so that your life feels more balanced. It can start with your perception — by letting go of all the shoulds. Start paying attention to your life and continually ask yourself, “Does my life feel balanced?” If not, make small course adjustments and align what you do to your intention!

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Stop Trying to Hire the Purple Squirrel

In the world of talent recruiting and human resources, there is a creature known as the “purple squirrel” which is the code name for the perfect employee. In the legal profession, the purple squirrel has the right academic pedigree and work experience. She has a solid book of business and a winning track record. She bills 16 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. And she is willing to accept whatever pay her employer is willing to offer.

Because law schools will do whatever it takes to continue to enroll more students than the market can handle, most law firms and the good JD-Advantage positions are likely to get scores of applications for just one opening. So firms will understandably be picky and will demand purple-squirrel attributes even for the most mundane and low-paid positions.

However, recruiters suggest that hiring the perfect squirrel is an exercise in futility. I think this is also the case in the legal profession and has to stop.

Because of its exacting and demanding specifications, the purple squirrel is as hard to find as the unicorn, the Loch Ness Monster, and the ideal spouse. It may take weeks and even months before the perfect candidate is found. What happens in the meantime? Money is spent on advertising and recruiters. Billable hours are lost. Other staff has to pick up the slack and will become resentful. Eventually, the office gossip mongers may think that the firm is financially shaky and might send a tip to this website.

Of course, there are those small-minded employers and recruiters who refuse to go near the unemployed because they are infected with a contagious, flesh-eating cancer. I have heard that when companies announce the search for the purple squirrel, what they are really trying to do is poach people from competitors. Good luck with that. If the candidate is doing well at his current job, then he probably won’t respond to your emails or return your calls. Also, his boss will go all out to keep him, so your recruitment emails will simply be used as leverage for a raise or a promotion.

And let’s suppose you are lucky enough to hire a purple squirrel. You may see him as the perfect employee, but will he see you as the perfect boss? Some may be happy to join the firm for the prestige, compensation, and opportunity for advancement. But others (and I suspect most) will know they are being recruited and expect to be treated accordingly. Expect to cater to the squirrel’s every whim and demand or he will not hesitate to give his nuts to someone else. This can create tensions with management, particularly those who are used to getting pampered by people hoping to get a job at the firm.

To mitigate the above problems, HR professionals have offered various pieces of advice. Instead of trying to find the perfect candidate, employers should focus on hiring exceptional but imperfect candidates, focusing on one or two things the firm really needs. And searching for the purple squirrel should be an ongoing process, not just when there is an immediate need. Firms should also develop a process for hiring purple squirrels. Firms should also place an emphasis on training and retaining good employees. Finally, firms should be open minded. Don’t be afraid to hire someone who doesn’t possess all the skills you consider to be must-haves. Look for someone who shows promise and could thrive with the right training.

Unfortunately, I suspect law firms will ignore the above advice or will be reluctant to do so. Most lawyers have little to no training in personnel management. So they resort to their life experience. This is when we hear complaints about the youth being coddled and entitled. They reminisce about the good old days when the elders yelled at the younger attorneys, and threw office supplies at them, and how this made them better attorneys. And having to walk barefoot from the office to the courthouse and back. Did I mention they had to walk uphill both ways?

Of course, every employer wants the purple squirrel. But finding these mythical candidates will be difficult and may later turn out to be a bad investment. So law firms should stop trying to look for purple squirrels and instead be more realistic about their hiring practices.

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The 7 Gifts of Adopting a Personal-Development Mindset

There is no greater path to success than through your own self-development. Those who are radically successful are immersed in themselves. They are endlessly curious and passionate about self-education. To rank among them, you must invest in yourself so you may manage your actions effectively, regardless of what life places in your path.

It is through self-development that you become ready and able to be proactive in all of your efforts, challenges and successes. By being proactive, you are not waiting for success to happen; you go out and make it happen. You may not achieve every goal you set, but as you develop yourself, you are guaranteed to live a richer, deeper and wider life. Making a commitment to your own development is the first step on the path to living your personal legend. The following are the gifts of adopting a self-development mindset:personal development

1. Sense of self

Any type of self-improvement begins with a keen awareness of who you are and what are your values, beliefs and the larger purpose you wish to pursue. True satisfaction cannot manifest from chasing someone else’s dreams. You have to know who you are and what you want. Take care to remind yourself that you are more than the sum total of other people’s opinions of you.

The experiences you have in life and business can have meaning only if you truly understand them. The path to understanding can come only once you’ve arrived at some level of self-knowledge. With a solid sense of who you are, you can start planning, designing and pursuing your own identified goals and objectives. In pursuing your own goals, your experience of success and fulfillment comes directly from the liberation you feel from being on your own journey.

2. Sense of curiosity

To live successfully, you must be deeply curious about all the possibilities your future holds. It is important to have an unquenchable thirst for your advancement. Curiosity inspires you to deliberately push through the unusually painful trials and errors in your business, leading to an acquired self-discipline which teaches you to cast your fears aside. With fears pushed out of your way, you open yourself to the fullest experience life and business can offer.

Curiosity creates a longing to know more, do more and be more. It inspires a zest which makes it possible to see any situation as an opportunity for your advancement and learning. When you approach business with a sense of adventure, there is no situation, however limiting, physically or economically, which cannot be filled to the brim with interest in and curiosity about how it will all work out.

3. Sense of direction


The more you develop yourself, the clearer you become on the things you want to achieve. This clarity makes decision-making easier. Having a sense of direction improves your ability to prioritize. You become certain about which objectives are important in the short term and which are necessary for your long term. With a sense of direction, you become focused and effective.

There is nothing that will help you organize your efforts more than being focused. Direction provides commitment. It is difficult to commit to something that has no foreseeable future or path. If you are filled with doubt and a lack of clarity there is no way to launch your ideas. Self-development gifts you with direction and, thereby, the commitment to achieve your ends.

4. Sense of follow-through

Knowing what you want to achieve makes it easier for you to see the benefits of taking action. Even when the tasks are not enjoyable, seeing the benefit of following through on them makes it easier to take the necessary steps to produce your desired results. There is much truth in the saying, where there is a will there is a way.

When you are committed to personal development, you find a way to develop the necessary will. Purpose is what gives you the incentive and motivation to get the things done which you need to do in order for you to become successful. Your idea of success and the vision of what that will look like is where your incentive to follow through originates.

5. Sense of urgency

A sense of urgency drives hard work. Urgency creates a mindset to work as if your life depended upon it, especially if you have fewer resources than your competitors. When you are the underdog, you will dig deep inside yourself in order to thrive.

Urgency prompts you to activate quickly when making decisions. You get off the dime and do something. Keep in mind that it is easier to steer a moving object, so if you realize you have made a poor decision, a sense of urgency allows you to adjust. If you wait too long, you miss opportunities.

Urgency is all about getting results quickly and efficiently, but it does not eliminate assessment. If you want faster results, you must assess what is and is not working, then eliminate the efforts you’ve identified as wasteful.

6. Sense of resiliency

There will be tough times in life and business. Resiliency prevents you from viewing any challenge as the end of the world. Resilience allots you the patience, awareness and fortitude to continue moving forward, even if that means completely changing course. Self-development gifts you with the perception that everything that happens (good and bad) happens for reasons which can only be in line with your best interest. With this type of mindset, there is no obstacle that will hold you back.

When tough times occur, you need the skills to deal with them effectively. Personal development cannot prevent all bad things from occurring, but it will help you deal with them when they do. You will have greater confidence and pliability, along with the personal and interpersonal skills to cope with any challenge you face as you climb the ladder of success.

7. Sense of connectedness

Relationships are a double-edged sword. They either lift you up or drag you down. They either bring you closer to your goals or push you further away. When you improve your personal development, you are better able to see which relationships and partnerships are worth investing in and which you need cut loose. You also develop the skills to make the most of those relationships which have the most positive impact on your life, your business and your overall success.

Adopting a personal-development mindset is about making the commitment to taking the time to invest in your greatest resource — you. When you put effort into developing yourself, the rewards are unfathomable. Many people are put off by personal development because they see it as a weakness or something that shows they do not already possess the skills necessary for success. If you assume you already know it all, you will not succeed. The greatest achievers in life and business know the key to success is their ability to manage themselves in a variety of situations. That ability comes through personal development.

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Adopt This Mindset and Never Be Late Again

By: Gene Marks

My friend Claire is great, but she’s never on time.

Whenever we agree to meet and she gives me a time, I always figure she’ll be a half hour late. I’m rarely wrong. And there’s always an excuse. A meeting ran on too long. Traffic was terrible. Things got out of hand that morning. Claire is that last, harried-looking person who gets on the flight right before the doors close. She’s the person whispering apologies as she takes her seat in front of you 10 minutes after the movie started. She’s the one rushing into the meeting after everyone’s introduced themselves. You know her, right?


It doesn’t stop there, does it? Claire is the person who you have to email five times to get a reply. She’s the customer that you have to remind to pay her invoice. She’s the partner who misses a deadline and the supplier who delivers materials after the due date. You deal with people like Claire all the time. You may like them. But their actions aren’t cute or quirky. They’re selfish. These are people who essentially don’t do what they say they’re going to do, and in the process they keep everyone waiting and cause headaches. Is this you?

Are you like Claire? Are you always late or not delivering the goods as promised? Do you find yourself blaming the weather, the kids, the car, your computer, your boss, the economy? There are always reasons. I’ve heard every one of them from Claire. The good news is that I can help you solve this problem. Just put yourself in Claire’s shoes and pretend you’re the person who was kept waiting.

When this happens, ask her this question: “Claire, what if I told you that there was a million dollars in cash with me and it’s all yours as long as you arrive on time for our meeting tomorrow? Will you arrive on time now?”

Of course the answer is yes. If there was a million dollars waiting for Claire she’d be an hour early. She’s plan her journey ahead of time. She’d end the phone conversation to give herself enough time to make that meeting. She’d bring a book or paperwork with her in case she was early.


Oh, and she’d respond to that email. She’d pay her invoice on time or make that deadline, come hell or high water. She’d do what many of us do who do what we say we’re going to do: we leave cushions of time in our schedules, we arrive early and do busy work in advance of an appointment, we answer emails from people we know (even if it’s a quick and polite “I’ll get back to you shortly”), we consider things such as traffic, weather, our gas tanks, the lines at security and busy parking lots ahead of time. We’ll do this every single time if there was a reward of a million bucks in it, right? So why is Claire late?

It’s because Claire is choosing to be late. It’s completely in her control to be on time and if she had the right motivation (like a million bucks) she would be. But she doesn’t. So she isn’t.

Do you never want to be late again? You don’t have to be. You can just ask yourself, “what if there was a million dollars waiting for me if I make that appointment, that flight, that phone call, that meeting on time?”

If you think of every commitment from this perspective, you’ll find yourself making the choice to never be late again, so you never will be. For now, you’re choosing otherwise. You’re choosing to inconvenience others, delay projects and disrupt peoples’ schedules and lives. And that seems like a pretty selfish choice, doesn’t it?

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5 Ways Hiring Veterans Will Bring Incredible Value To Your Business

Hiring is on the rise. According to a recent report in Reuters, June saw the highest level of hiring in a five-month long ever-increasing streak. While the summer is expected to see those numbers stabilize, the bottom line is that it’s a good time for potential employees to seek positions.

While the average hiring across the country is increasing, what’s particularly striking is the recent surge in corporate recruitment of military veteran candidates for open positions. Business News Daily reports that a recent survey showed 29 percent of employers are actively recruiting veterans to work for their organizations over just 20 percent last year.

That’s no accident, as companies like Chase, Disney and Google are recognizing the incredible skill sets that veterans bring to their organization, these companies are creating specific veteran hiring corporate objectives. Veterans are highly trained and possess a myriad of vital successful traits that every employer and office will benefit from.

If you haven’t considered all the ways in which a veteran could be the perfect fit for your business or department, you will want to read on, since as Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis once said, “The best way to thank a veteran is to hire one.”

Here are five of the many reasons why hiring veterans will bring incredible value to your business.

1. Big Picture Thinking

In an article for Forbes, entrepreneur and veteran, Shane Robinson shares his own personal struggles and experience trying to find work when he transitioned from the military to private sector work. In making the case for hiring veterans, he emphasized many of the skills veterans bring, like big picture mindset.

Big picture thinking is routinely required of military personnel, who must complete specific tasks but must also be able to relate their piece to the larger overall objective. As Shane writes, “vets are trained to keep a watchful eye on the big picture, while maintaining an immaculate sense of detail. Such ability is incredibly rare.”

What could be better for your organization than a new hire that understands the importance of completing their specific objectives in order to further the bigger goal of the organization?

2. Urgent Decision-Making

Veterans, especially those veterans with combat experience, are used to making incredibly urgent, important and challenging decisions as part of their military experience. Veterans have likely experienced very real stress that amounts to life or death decisions and thus are capable of and experienced at urgent decision making.

The ability to stay calm and work under stress while still making critical decisions are the traits of great leaders and you’ll find many of these highly prized character traits in veteran applicants.

Robinson articulates this reality explaining, “Despite the rigidity of military regulations and the certainty provided by standard operating procedures, officers and enlisted soldiers alike are accustomed to making significant decisions in the face of moral dilemma, under the threat of physical harm and in a myriad of other uncertain situations. The ability to creatively solve problems in the face of unprecedented situations is a quality.”

Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families supports this even further explaining that cognitive and decision-making research has demonstrated military experience is positively correlated to the ability to evaluate and make decisions in a chaotic or stressful environment.

Many studies have highlighted this ability and further pointed out that it is even more personified in veterans with combat experience. If you’re looking for a team member who understands staying calm under pressure and can weigh out important decisions, a veteran has experience that will likely surpass any other applicant.

3. Ability to Work in Teams

The same report from the Syracuse University explains that your approach to hiring veterans should go beyond just a feeling of wanting to hire and can actually be supported by academic research, specifically from business, psychology and sociology fields. Data-driven models demonstrate veterans are linked to enhanced performance and organizational advantages in the workplace.

Veterans are consistently reported as being more trustworthy by their co-workers and veterans themselves report higher feelings of trust in their leadership and co-workers. The Department of Veterans Affairs further supports this claim stating “veterans understand the importance of teamwork, especially combat veterans, whose lives have literally depended on everyone doing what is best for others.

Veterans also understand that the concept of “team” varies, be it individuals within a department working together, or many units and branches joining forces to achieve a common goal.” Teamwork and trust are two key components of your staff’s harmonious success and veterans can help bring those qualities to the department, as well as help promote those traits within your organization.

4. Best Training and Technology

Aside from the mindset training and skills that today’s veterans embody, the United States military provides intense training to its members. When veterans enter the private sector, they’re endowed with the most up-to-date technological training and skills available. Research presented by Syracuse University explains this by sharing that, “Military experience, on average, exposes individuals to highly advanced technology and technology training at a rate that is accelerated relative to non-military, age group peers.

Research validates this accelerated exposure to high-technology contributes to an enhanced ability to link technology-based solutions to organizational challenges, and also the transfer of technological skills to disparate work-tasks.” In other words, not only will a veteran hire be more likely to have the best technological training on the market, they’ll also be better prepared and able to translate their current skills across other needs within the work environment.

The ability to be adaptive is a crucial skill for any employee and your organization is sure to benefit from the flexibility and applied skills of a veteran.

5. Commitment and Dedication

Veterans know about commitment in a way that few others can truly understand. These service men and women pledged varying lengths of life commitments to the military. According to the same report by Syracuse University, the military is particularly good at institutional socialization and as a result “the military experience engenders a strong linkage between the individual and the organization.”

They go on to explain that studies support and show veterans bring a strong sense of organizational commitment and loyalty to the civilian workplace. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology further supports this idea, saying that veterans “possess numerous attributes, including loyalty, leadership ability, respect, integrity, duty, reliability, and working as team members, that employers value in their employees.”

Veterans can be an incredible resource and invaluable assets to your organization. If you’re specifically looking for ways to partner with the veteran organizations to seek out veteran applicants, look to resources like Veterans Job Bank to find the right hire for your group.

6 Remarkably Simple Steps to Becoming a Real Problem-Solver

Adapted from an article by Peter Gasca

What is the biggest problem we have in business today? Lack of capital and resources? Uncertain markets and currencies? The pursuit of our next president?

I would argue the most significant problem we face today is too many people who find problems. They are called “problem identifiers,” or complainers.

Unfortunately, I see this all day, in conversations online, among friends in coffee shops and even casually by someone on the phone (sometimes it is difficult not to eavesdrop). These problem identifiers disguise themselves as heedful social servants, more than happy to offer up an opinion on a particular matter and why it is a menace to our community — or just their immediate work space. They typically know exactly who to blame and the process by which it became such as huge burden to society.

What they rarely offer, however, is a clear, reasonable and responsible solution.

History’s greatest leaders may have complained from time to time, but they all built legacies around their innate abilities to find and execute solutions to their biggest gripes. To follow in their footsteps and avoid being the Debbie Downer of your organization or circle of friends, think before you speak and follow these tips to become a better problem-solver.

1. Determine the scope of the problem.

If the problem is something that is out of your control, such as international monetary policy, traffic lights or Donald Trump’s latest tweet, then it is best to let it be. Focus on the issues you have some control over and can make an impact toward changing.

2. Stay objective.

When approaching an issue, try to leave your ego and biases aside. Examine the problem from an objective point of view, considering the pros and cons as well as all views of other parties affected by it.

3. Ask questions.

Problems are often rooted in miscommunication. Before you jump all over an issue, ask questions — many of them — and determine if you simply may have misunderstood the problem at hand.

4. Get to the root problem.

If you are asking the right questions of the right people, and examining a problem objectively, there is a very good chance that the issue you have identified is more a symptom of a much more significant problem. Dig deep and find the root problem first, then begin making a list of actions you can take to resolve it.

5. Narrow your options.

Coming up with countless solutions to a problem can be easy, especially if you are trying to hedge your bet. But risk takers don’t hedge. They leverage the resources available to them — their experiences and networks — and narrow their solutions down to a top choice. The reason is so the proper energy, attention and resources can be devoted to solving the issue, and the proposed solution will less likely be abandoned simply because it does not go exactly as planned.

6. Frame the problem in the form of a solution.

The difference between someone who leads teams in finding solutions and those that are just complaining is the ability to phrase a problem as a simple and obvious action.

For instance, a problem identifier will say, “Our revenues are falling, and we only have a few weeks of operational capital from which to work.”

While a problem solver will say, “We need to divert marketing resources to an aggressive social-media campaign to drive traffic to our ecommerce site immediately.”

Which one are you more likely to follow?

The adage that misery loves company is a powerful and toxic recipe for an office. While you may never snuff out complainers entirely, you can lead from the top and set an example as a respected and dependable problem-solver in your organization.

And, for what it’s worth, I might argue there is nothing wrong with poking fun at Donald Trump’s latest tweet — as long as you educate yourself and vote. Otherwise, don’t expect to get into a substantial political debate with someone who is too busy changing the world in other ways.

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15 Conference Travel Tips to Save you Time and Money

Adapted from article by Jonathan Long

Conferences can be a large part of being a professional.  While the events themselves are an excellent experience, the travel associated with them can sometimes be a complete nightmare.

Delayed flights, lost luggage and other travel inconveniences are a small price to pay for the amazing educational and networking experiences conferences provide. But we would all love to save time and money, as well as reduce stress, right? Use these 15 tips for smooth sailing when planning for your next conference.

1. Book airfare and hotel accommodations using a private browser.

I’m not going to blatantly say that every travel site, airline and hotel shows higher rates depending on where you are browsing from and whether you have visited the site before. What I will say, though, is that often you will get a lower price when you search from a private browser, such as Google Chrome in incognito mode.

2. Make sure you know what transportation apps are available in your destination city.

Not every city has the convenience of Lyft or Uber, so do some research before the event and see what transportation options there are. Make sure you download the app of whatever option is available — this simple planning allows you to quickly head to your hotel once you touch down.

3. Network on social media with other conference attendees prior to the event.

Let your social-media contacts know you are attending a particular conference. If your network is mostly industry connections, there will be a good chance many of them will also be attending. It’s always nice to know there will be familiar faces at a conference to take in the experiences with.

4. Include a full change of clothes in your carry-on bag.

Lost baggage happens and, if your checked bags contain all of your clothes, you could be left scrambling to try to piece together an outfit at the last minute while at the same time attempting to track down your baggage through the airline. Toss a set of clothes in your carry-on to ensure you won’t have to make a frantic last-minute trip to a local mall.

5. Plug your hotel address and conference venue address into your phone.

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