Episode 29: Finding Work-Life Balance
with Dr. Julie Wayne

When it comes to work-life balance - do you think of ‘balance’ as a noun or a verb?

In this episode, our guest, Dr. Julie Wayne shares wisdom on what a healthy work-life balance looks like, and offers practical ways to actually achieve it. 

About our guest

Contact Julie via email

Connect with Julie on LinkedIn 

Follow Julie on Twitter

Julie Holliday Wayne earned her undergraduate degree in psychology at Furman University in 1993 and her Masters and PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of Georgia. Julie has been a faculty member at Wake Forest since 1998 and is Professor and the David C. Darnell Presidential Chair of Principled Leadership in the School of Business.

In her research, she studies sexual harassment, work-life balance, and workgroup diversity and has published in top management journals and her work has been highlighted in Forbes, Fox News, the Chicago Times, Parent Magazine, and others. She has earned numerous awards for her research including being identified as a “Top 50” extraordinary contributor to the work-family field by the Work-Family Researchers Network. She is a Fellow for the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology, recognized for her unusual and outstanding contributions to the field. She has won awards for innovative teaching as well. She has consulted for organizations in a variety of industries and conducted workshops on leadership, teamwork, personality, and work-life balance, among others.

Dr. Wayne is an active member of her church and community. She has been married to her husband, Michael, for 27 years and they have three teenagers. Her Tedx talk “One Turn on Earth: Lessons from the BoardRoom to the Dinner Table” can be found HERE.

Episode transcript

Keith: All right, everyone, welcome to the Growing as Grown-Ups podcast. We are -- Sara and I -- are so excited today that Dr. Julie Wayne is with us. What makes this really fun, and the reason that both Sara and I are sitting in the room interviewing Julie, is because we are all three graduates of the I-O Psychology program at the University of Georgia --

Sara: Go Dogs!

Keith: Go Dogs. We won't talk about any of the generational differences represented in the room, but the --

Julie: You can guess who's the youngest among us, right?

Keith: They will be able to guess who's youngest amongst us and --

Julie: Not me.

Keith: Julie. We're so excited to have you with us. Thanks for spending a little bit of your day with us.

Julie: Thank you for having me. It's such a pleasure to be here.

Keith: Hey, this is a, you know, two episodes ago we had -- we really talked about legacy and values and what are we doing in our lives and then during the last episode, we talked about kind of productivity -- the soul of productivity, and it was really fun and Dr. Julie Wayne, who is at Wake Forest University -- Julie, I’d love you to tell a little bit about your story in just a second -- but her focus has been over the course of her career, really kind of managing who we want to be in terms of who we are inside of work and outside of work. But Julie, how did you even get interested in I-O psychology? I'm always curious when I meet other I-O Psychologists about what it was that got them headed that direction.

Julie: So I always had this grand vision, right? I don't know, 10-years-old, that I wanted to help people, and I didn't know exactly what that would look like, but I thought it would be in the form of actually my dad had cancer when I was young and passed away, and so I wanted to help people who were struggling kind of a terminal illness situation. So I majored in psychology in college, and one of the clinical psychologists said, "Well, that's not really kind of what clinical psychologists do," and I actually spent a year working in a psychiatric hospital and one of the things that I learned about myself was that I really wasn't cut out for that, that I took it home in a very personal way, and so I really started exploring my senior year in college of "OK, I want to help people. What does that look like? And I've been doing research with a college professor on memory and I kept saying, "Well, but why does this matter? If we're studying something -- memories that are stored milliseconds different, like what's the practical implication?" and so my college professor said, "You know, you really have this applied focus. Have you ever heard of I-O psychology?" and I had no idea what it was. So I went to the library, I pulled out Frank Landy's, you know, I-O psychology textbook that -- and I fell in love. I was like, "Oh my goodness, it's human behavior at work where people spend so much of their time in their lives. This allows me to help people and do it with a population that is interesting to me," right? And so leadership and motivation, all of these things that we've been talking about in rats in boxes, suddenly now we're talking about real people and so I really became fascinated with that and that's what led me to get a graduate degree in I-O psychology and I personally think it's the best field in psychology, and no one can convince me otherwise, so..

Sara: I love that and not knowing that part of your story, Julie, I had such a similar path, but I didn't even learn what I-O psychology was until my first day of graduate school in "Intro to Industrial Psychology" and I said, "What's that?"

Julie: Wow, you are even braver than I was.

Sara: I went into the applied psychology program because I wanted to do exactly what you did, which is figure out how to actually apply psychology to people.

Julie: Well, what I liked about hearing your story, Sara, is working with college undergraduates every day like I do, they come in the door as freshmen, but particularly as seniors, where they think they have to have their entire life figured out and I think it's important to take more of an experimental mindset because I thought, "OK, if I get there and I've made a really bad decision, I can change that! Like, I can do something!" and fortunately, I fell in love -- even getting through, you know, stats and regression and all those things -- Yeah, you're shaking your head, so. So anyway, I think that I'm encouraged to hear your story because you didn't know all that you were getting yourself into and it worked out OK for you.

Sara: It did. It did. So tell me, you specialize in this work family realm in your research and so what drew you to focus in on that topic out of all the other topics that exist in our field?

Julie: They say "research is me-search" so I think, right? Interestingly, I mean, I started this over 20-something years ago. It was not something that I had done in graduate school, so I did it as a new professor on the tenure track. So it was kind of risky but I, you know, if they -- you've heard the saying, we all use it, right? "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life," and so for me, I wanted to pursue investing in research that I thought would help people, but also was very personally meaningful to me and so, again, most people spend the majority of their week when they're awake is at work and so how do how do these big pieces of our lives -- what happens at work and outside of work -- how do they come together? And because I'm a I-O psychologist, this research is done in sociology. It's done in marriage and family but clearly for me as an I-O psychologist, I'm particularly interested in how that impacts people's engagement, attitudes, and performance in the workplace and when I started this, literally, there was a colleague who said, "Doing the kind of research on Work-Life Balance that you do is actually anti-business research," because I'm in a business school and so it was this notion that, you know, that actually, if you're focusing on life outside of work, that you're taking away from your engagement and performance at work, and we've actually done research that shows the exact opposite is true. That people who report feeling more balanced in their lives not only do their spouse -- excuse me -- their supervisors rate them as better performers at work, but their spouses rate them as performing better in their family. So it is not the case that there's no business case for this and this is anti-business. Employees having better balance in their lives is good for business. They'll actually perform better and have a lot more commitment to the organization. Now the research is starting to accumulate. There's more commitment to the organizations, there's more engagement, there's better mental and physical health associated with it as well.

Sara: Well, kudos for you for sticking with that. When you're early in your career and people are telling you it's a bad idea, like to say, you know, "I'm going to go out and prove that this is not anti-business," is really, really awesome that you did that, and I'm so glad that you did. So you mentioned to us even before we hit record kind of this whole realm of work-life balance and the language around that and what that means. Will you just go there for a minute and kind of, what is work-life balance?

Julie: So I'll start by saying what I think it is not. When we use the term "balance", really what that kind of evokes is the notion of a scale, right? And so we've got work over here, we've got everything outside of work over here, and balance happens when those things are equal, right? And we've gone out and we've asked people, we've said how -- and this was years ago, right? -- "How do you define balance in your life?" and it's not about equality, right? The other thing, it's also not about having it all at the same time. It is not the case that if I, again, kind of like that colleague said, right, like this is -- you take from -- if you are spending time in your personal life, you're taking away from work. Things are out of whack, right? So balance is not these notions of scale and equal, right? So I use the term "balance" because that's what is most popular and people get it, right? But I don't think about it in the same way that word balance as a scale might really connote and the problem that I think is that we use it as a noun, right? That balance is something that if you strive for it and you do the right thing, you're going to get it and you're going to keep it and I don't think that that's what balance is. I prefer to think of balance as a verb. That balancing is a constantly shifting and evolving process that you're -- it's an experiment, right, and a realignment and so to me, balancing, I think I use the term balance, but I like to think of it more as a process, a verb, something -- an action we're constantly doing. And so if I take a snapshot today, my life may not feel balanced and tomorrow it may and so it's kind of taking a little bit broader perspective to say "Over the course of the week or weeks or even a month, how am I balancing?" But not this myth, frankly, that I think is out there, that there is some achievable desired state, sorry, that we're going to get and achieve it and keep it. It's a constantly evolving process from day-to-day, even year-to-year, and changes as our life stages change.

Sara: I really like that because I feel like it, it takes any sort of shame or guilt out of any particular point in time where I'm not feeling balanced. Like, we've had a really busy week this week where it has been late nights, weekends working that I, my husband last night was like, "I feel like I haven't seen you."

Julie: Right.

Sara: And it's like I could feel guilty that I've not been balanced this week but putting it in that bigger context, it's like, "OK, but next week we're going to have a little bit more breathing room that I can -- We can schedule more time for dinner or going for walks, or..."

Keith: Speaking of breathing, Julie, I'm guessing that people almost have a sigh of relief when you begin to redefine it this way. I mean, what are people's reactions when you start to shift their thinking on what balance means as a verb and not a noun?

Julie: I think that we all have these unrealistic expectations of what that is supposed to look like, and I think probably one of the things that people are grateful to hear is, again, that idea that it is not super superstar performance in absolutely everything you do, right? It's balance - I've said what it's not, let me say what -- how kind of in the academic literature feeding from us hearing how people define it, looking at -- we reviewed all of the literature on balance and in the academic literature, there were 233 different definitions of balance. Right? So there's not real -- only now is it starting to emerge as to what it is. "It's negotiating and meeting realistic expectations of yourself and your important role partners." Ok? So negotiating and meeting realistic expectations, your own and the important people. So, Sara, getting that feedback from your spouse, right? That's an important role partner who's saying, "Hey, things aren't working for me." So it's not just, right, "How do I feel?" but those people who matter to me, "How do they feel about this balancing right now?" Right? So there's a couple of things that are important in understanding that piece of the definition. One of the things that we do that steals our sense of balance is we don't personally have realistic expectations of ourselves, right? So I'll tell you a little story where -- and it's worse, right? In the day of social media, Pinterest, right? Like I'm supposed to be having these parades for my kids birthday parties and I'm supposed to be making, like, this homemade, beautiful cake. So my youngest, who is now in eighth grade, where -- I have three kids, right? And he's my youngest, he's in kindergarten. I have a second grader and maybe a sixth grader if I'm doing the math correctly, real quickly. But we had three open houses to get to, OK, and so my husband's out of town and I pull in. It's like from 4:30-6:30, right? And I pull in, walk into the classroom, I'm on two wheels hot, it's, like, 6:15 and I'm, like, feeling accomplished that I'm there. I'm in my third one and I've got my school supplies in my dollar store bag and my Walmart bag, right? And I walk in feeling so accomplished and I put the supplies on his little table and I look over and there's this beautiful designer -- no lie -- monogrammed bag, right? With the kids monogram. The kid is five or six with these beautifully displayed name brand like Crayola -- and I'm like going to the dollar store, right? And I'm just happy that I even remembered to bring them. and in that moment, I felt guilt and shame, right? Where did that come from? My kid didn't care. He could have cared less what shape or form or box or covering, but in that moment I felt shame and I had to keep in check who mattered. Whose opinion matters here? My kid didn't care. I looked at the teacher and my daughter had the same teacher, so I knew her well, and I said, "First kid in school?" and she laughed and she said "Yes," and I said, "We are just lucky to be here," right? But I think that's what we do is suddenly I felt like I didn't measure up in my role as a mom because I was engaging in comparison and so what I had to remind myself in that moment is whose expectations matter and are my expectations of myself realistic? And so I asked myself those things and I'm like, "OK, gut check," right? Like, "This is OK," and so I think the key to your point is, right, that's freeing when we realize whose expectations matter and are they realistic, and sometimes we're really our own worst enemy, right?

Keith: Julie, that is -- I mean that hits the right note with me and with the work we do because, I mean, you remember this back from our Karl Kuhnert leadership class days and our, you know, all the work around constructed an elemental theory that we've done is this out for some of us for way too long, but for all of us, for some period of our life, the expectations of the world around us wind up defining what we think should be the standard, right? So as people move in the direction of figuring out -- I love this negotiation and meeting the expectations of feedback of ourselves, but also using the feedback that we get from others, right? How do people move in the direction of kind of taking ownership of what's going to matter to them in terms of this?

Julie: So the work that you guys have done on the podcast around thinking about your legacy, right? So in doing that work, you start to define who really matters most in your roles, right, and so -- and who doesn't? And the people on social media shouldn't really matter to me, right? And so I think doing that work. The other thing that you said, you know, really authenticity is about being inner directed and not externally directed and so you've got to do that work to know who matters, what matters to you, what matters more than something else, right, and then being courageous to kind of live that out and so one is keeping your own expectations in check. The other is not assuming and having conversations with the important stakeholders in your different roles, right? So I think if you think about it, we spend so much of our intellectual capacity -- our time and energy and our training -- we are trained how to do work. We are not trained how to be a parent, we're not trained in how to be a good spouse, yet these are often the most important things to us when we think about it, right? And so often what will happen is we're not nearly as intentional in our personal lives as we are in our work lives. So one -- and what ends up happening is that we trust that the people who are friends and our family who know us and love us, sometimes we are safe in that and we show up at our worst, right? And so we are not going to blow up at the coworker, but we might go home and take that out on our spouse and that's -- and vice versa, right? We know stressors at work. We take them home stressors at home, we take them to work and so often, right, we, because of that, the roles we say we value the most, sometimes we actually don't bring our best selves and we -- and I'm just as guilty as anybody else, right? And so we don't necessarily bring our best selves and at work we get a performance review. We have a job description. We are sitting down with our boss and they are telling us we're doing a good job and so the question that I ask myself and others is, "What if you got a report card at home," right? Like, what if you went to your spouse and said, "Hey, can we do a performance review?" Right? "How am I doing? Here's what I say I want to -- the kind of mom and wife or spouse or brother or sister or whatever that I want to be. Tell me," and so, Sara, I commend your husband for having that conversation with you, right? And so that's a challenge for myself, right? Because I'm going to make sure I'm getting all A's at work, but I might not be quite as intentional as I am and so having those courageous conversations to say, "You know me, you know what's important to me? Can we touch base on how I'm doing? What do you expect of me, right? Instead of me assuming maybe it's at work and I assume that when I'm on vacation, my boss wants me to be connected. Maybe, maybe she doesn't, right? But I can ask that I can get clarity around those expectations, number one, and then ask for feedback on how I'm doing. Does that answer your question, Keith?

Keith: It was fantastic. Fantastic, I think, Sara, I want you to jump in if you want, but the thing that comes to mind for me is as you start getting feedback from multiple sources, you're going to start getting competing sets of inputs on who wants what from you and - what's your advice to folks who are struggling with the pull that they're feeling from home? The pull that they're feeling from work, it's like, "Am I just going to snap in the middle of this somewhere? What's going to happen to me?"

Julie: So when I have advised people in the past to have these conversations, there's one woman who says, "No, no, no, no, no. The last thing I want to do is somebody else to tell me more that they expect of me," and I said, "You need to have this conversation more than anyone else, and this is where the negotiating piece comes in." Right? This is your skill -- these are your skills and influence, your skills in negotiation. It's looking for a win-win. It's saying maybe as, and I've done this at times, right? I might go to my spouse and say, "Look, I know I have said I will do X, Y and Z, but I'm not able to do all of this. I need some help here." Go to my boss: "I know that we have said X, Y and Z. In the pandemic, for example, I’ve got kids at home doing remote learning. I want to be the best employee that I can be, but it's also incredibly important to me that I am able to meet the needs of my kids. Help me figure out how to do that." Right? It's a negotiation, a conversation, and sometimes being realistic. You know about what you can and can't do or what you will or won't do. So that's where I would say influence, negotiation, supportive communication skills, owning things, seeking to understand their point of view, looking for win-win solutions. So that's just touching on it, that's not digging deep into any of those, but...

Sara: Julie, it's so good, and oh my gosh, I just need to hire her to, like, coach me for an hour. We had -- on a podcast a couple episodes ago where I felt like that lady who said, "I can't create space for anyone else to ask anything of me," and finally, I had to come to terms with I had made so many assumptions about what was expected of me at home and when I talked to my husband about it, finally, he was like, "I don't expect you to have a full cooked meal on the table every night," and even last week, I didn't tell you this, Keith, but because I knew this week was so bad, I told him last weekend, "I need to let you know if you want anything out of me this week in terms of emotional capacity, I can't cook you dinner this week," and he's like, All right, I'm in charge," and he has. You know, kudos to Brian, he's getting the props on this episode, but, like, I've had to learn to negotiate that because realistic expectations are not my natural tendency.

Keith: Perfectionistic expectations.

Sara: Yeah, yeah. Which is hard with this balance because I want to be perfect at work and I want to be the perfect wife and the perfect stepmother and the perfect friend and so the negotiation -- there's so many good things that you said but, one thing I do want to ask you to expand on is how things have changed in this area since the pandemic and since people are working from home and kids are at home and it's a very different world where there are not the clear time and space boundaries that there were before. So what have you seen happening in people's lives or in this space of work-life balance or balancing?

Julie: Yeah, so I mean, I think you really kind of hit the typical experience and there's a lot of variation around this, right? But I think you've kind of hit the typical experience. What we know is people are working more hours during the pandemic than they were before, right? And some of that is they're working during commute time, right? But also it is that whereas before the kind of what we how we refer to this in the academic literature is people have a preference for how they manage boundaries between work and non-work and one is "segmenter", right? Like, I keep the different parts of my life quite separate and time and place all those kinds of things. So in the extreme sense, they don't really socialize with people from work. It's like my husband is a great segmenter. It's like he walks in the door and work is off and he is at home. The other kind of preference, and they can range in between, is an integrator where the different roles overlap a lot and so these are people who might take a personal call at work or do work at home. That provides flexibility, but because those boundaries get blurred, they don't ever feel as disconnected and able to really relax and rejuvenate and recover from those roles and so what has happened is the pandemic has made it much more difficult to segment, and segmenting can be a way to kind of reduce that sense of competing demands and so we're sleeping in the office or working in our bedroom, right? Literally, and so people have to be much more intentional to create boundaries that might not exist. So getting up, getting dressed, going for a walk to kind of simulate the commute time. Similarly, at the end of the day, taking a walk to kind of reset, like, "Now I'm going into family mode."

Keith: Yeah, those transition periods are so important and to manage transitions well, I love that idea of actually doing something physical to mark the end of one time and the beginning of another time. That's really smart.

Sara: So what -- you mentioned earlier that kind of the social media pressures can get in the way of these realistic expectations, the changes in the workforce or the work structure that we're experiencing today can cause problems. Are there any other kind of enemies or things that are working against us? Finding this kind of realistic balance in our lives, what else do we need to be looking out for?

Julie: So I would turn to kind of what is a second component of balance. So the first is negotiating and meeting realistic expectations in the roles that matter to you with the people who matter most to you, right? The second is, I call this authenticity -- work and family authenticity -- but it is spending your time and energy in the roles consistent with how important they are to you. Ok, so let me unpack that a little bit. You might be -- so typically, again, that notion of balance is it's equal. Stu Friedman and Cheryl Lobell talk about this notion of a happy workaholic, right? But there are people who their meaning, their sense of identity, their passion is truly in their work and that's not depleting for them that's enriching for them, and they don't look balanced, necessarily to the outside world but it's balanced for them, right? So the formula for balance looks different for every person because it is ultimately about being involved, effective, and happy in the roles that you value right? To the extent that you value them. So there is no one formula, so this happy workaholic may be balanced in the sense that they're involved to the extent that they want to be in their valued roles. Ok. And so balance looks different for everybody. And what that requires of us is, again, knowing who and what is most important to us and then living that out. So it's kind of like this the difference between leadership and managing right with leadership. I need to know where I'm going and managing is making the decisions every day that are going to get me there, right? And so if I say that faith is important to me, but I'm not spending any time with people who are of faith in a community of faith or investing in my faith, then -- and that's a non-work role besides family -- then I'm not going to feel balanced because that's important to me and I'm not nourishing that right? So one of the enemies of balance is not knowing who and what matters most and not allocating your time and energy consistent with that.

Keith: My gosh, Julie. That, I mean, so this reminds me a little bit of a talk that we heard you do to students, I think primarily at Furman University, where you had some really strong suggestions kind of pulling from the research on what makes corporations really effective around kind of vision and strategy and priorities, I can't remember what all was in there, but it resonated with me as a really pragmatic way for people to take some steps in the direction of figuring out what matters to them. Are you able to share a little bit about your thinking on that?

Julie: I mean, we know that leadership matters, it matters at work, it matters in the success of organization, so we absolutely should be, you know, leading great organizations. If we know that, then we should take that and apply it to our everyday life, right? That it's about leading ourselves, leading in our families, leading in our personal roles and so, you know, again, it's this notion of great organizations know where they're going. They have a vision for the future, right? They have a strategy. They know "how are we going to get there?" And by knowing that, you know what to say. So here's a big thing about time and energy and back to the point of knowing how you define success, not just how others define success because, by knowing what I truly value and what I want to be known for and what I want to accomplish, not only in my professional life, right? We think about that. "I want to get promoted, I want to get to CEO." My students tell me these things. We have to be just as thoughtful about where we want to be in our personal lives and Clay Christensen is a former Harvard Business School professor and he says, You know, you've got in your personal life, too. You've got to figure out, how are you going to measure your life? What does success look like? And so then just again, making the decisions every day to align with that. And so I can time stress comes from having too much to do in too little time. There are things I need to say yes to, there are things I should say no to. Those things should be guided by my vision and values, right? And so I don't like to tell people, no, that's not part of my nature as a person. I want to be a "yes" person but by, you know, really. It's easier to say "no" if you've got a bigger "yes", burning inside, right? And so that is kind of part of it is with, to quote, "find balance". It's to say no to the things not consistent with your vision and values and say "yes!" with an exclamation point to those things that do matter and that's not only for ourselves. Like, Sara, you know, it sounds like you're super busy and there's a spouse and kids and work. We are -- we have so much FOMO, right? Not just that we're fearful of missing out, but we are even more fearful that our kids will miss out. Right? And so my husband, our youngest is -- my older two are very kind of academic and scholarly and our youngest is kind of the sports / athletic kid. So we didn't really know what to do with that, right? So when he was fairly young, he was invited to be on a travel basketball team. Basketball, I'm trying to think basketball or baseball. He does every sport imaginable. It was it was both, but it was the basketball team. Not that that's important for you guys but just to be right on, and so I won't go into all the background, but my husband goes to the meeting and he's texting me. He's like, "Oh! It's lots of weekends," right, "And lots of money!" and all these things and my question back to him is, "Does this fit with the values of our family?" I know all of his friends are doing it, right? I know he thinks he's going to be in the NFL or NBA one day, but right now, does this fit with our priorities and our family? And he goes, “you're right, it doesn't” and he didn't do it. Now, he's not going to make it to the NBA, and one day he can blame me for that, right? But at the time, what that required was on the weekends, because we had two older kids, they weren't going to be dragged to little brother's basketball weekend, right? Our family would have been split and our priority is quality time as a family and that's not to say there wouldn't ever be a time that we do travel ball and I'm not trying to diss travel ball, but for us in that moment, particularly how young he was. We had to not get caught up in what's everybody else doing? Instead, it's let's turn back to our values as a family and what's important to us and is this moving us closer or further away from those things?

Sara: Wow. So do you and your husband sit down and have these conversations like how do you get so aligned that you can make those really tough decisions?

Julie: I would love to sit here and say that I always do a great job of practicing what I preach but -- and there are times that we do, right? That we really have very explicit conversations around what our priorities are but just like you, Sara, like, there's times in what I do where it's just overwhelming and we're just hanging on, right? But again, it comes back to what your priorities are and how do you know what really is important? Do you make time for it? And so my advice would be that this absolutely should be something that partners sit down and have a semi-regular check-ins and conversations because otherwise, when that's not happening, I'm going to blow my top when I'm overwhelmed, right? Because the research shows that particularly women take on the mental load, not just kind of the physical task, but the mental load. They do the worrying, they do the planning it's what we -- in work we call it a project manager and they'd get paid well. At home, that doesn't happen, and so having those tough, open conversations because, Sara, like you, what I find - so Sheryl Sandberg in ‘Lean In’ talks about "make your partner a real partner," and sometimes we don't do that because we're too busy trying to be superwoman. Right, and so there's no shame or guilt in asking your partner to be a partner and take on some of those mentally and emotionally heavy and as well as just, "Can you pick the kid up?" Right?

Sara: "Can you make dinner tonight?"

Julie: Yes. Sorry, my light -- this was a COVID thing. I think they put our lights on timer, and if I don't move enough, it gets dark. So sorry about that.

Sara: No worries, I have one last question if we have time for it.

Keith: Yeah, do it.

Sara: So, we spent a lot of time talking about how do we prioritize and make sure we're giving enough attention -- conversations with our partners or important people in our lives? How do you recommend putting those systems in place at work? Because I can imagine a lot of people -- like going to my husband to say "I need help" or "I need time" or "This is going to be a rough week" is one thing, but to go maybe to my boss and say --

Keith: What a great question.

Sara: "Hey, I can't do this thing for you because my kid has a thing and it's really important for me to be at." That seems for a lot of people, especially in early in their career where they don't have a lot of the power at work.

Keith: That's scary. More scary --

Sara: Yeah. How do people make those boundaries with their bosses? Because that seems a riskier thing to say "no to. Julie: Yeah, for sure, and so hopefully great leaders are having those baseline and relationship building conversations to say, "Hey, here are my expectations of you. Here is what I believe. Here are my assumptions," right? Maybe -- it's like I am focused on results. Get the results done right. I'm not -- you don't have to be in the office twenty-four seven. So I, again, those conversations can be difficult, but hopefully there's a foundation that already exists in that relationship to where you would feel comfortable and, again, just looking for the win-win and asking questions. So, I don't know, you know, maybe it's a one-time thing, but again, maybe it's your kids having a health issue or whatever or your plate is too full, and so I think having conversations to open up the door to say, "Hey, here's what I'm dealing with," right? "It's very important to me that I meet and exceed all of your expectations, but right now, here's the challenge that I'm having. Can you help me come up with a solution that works for both of us?"

Sara: Really good.

Julie: Do you think that would work?

Keith: Yeah, I mean, I think that goes back to what you said earlier about negotiating, right? And I think that that is an important thing, you know, for some people, depending on where they are in their journey, it takes a lot more courage.

Sara: Yeah.

Keith: Right, and it does matter who you're working for and what kind of expectations have been said and all those kinds of things but, you know, ultimately, I believe that people are going to be happiest when they can live into the "them" that they want to be, when I can live into the "me" that I want to be and sometimes that requires courage and leaning up against what you're scared might happen if you make the decision that you know you need to make to live into the values that you have. And this, you know, back to your -- I mean, it's like, are you going to make behaviors -- are you going to engage in behaviors that are consistent with where you want to go and who you want to be?

Julie: Can I give you a personal example?

Keith: Love for you, too.

Julie: It was really tough to do that. You know, in the academic world, tenure is the holy grail. So for those listening who don't know kind of what tenure is, it's job security and, generally, when you go into an academic position, you have six years to prove yourself both as an excellent teacher but also a kind of a top-notch scholar, and when you get to that point, right, like either it's "yes" or "no", you are in, you are out, you are gone, right? So it's a very stressful environment and I had gone into an academic position where I loved the people and I love the place, but my son, my oldest son, who will turn 20 this weekend, was one. And whereas I had been that happy workaholic before, my values changed and like you said, Sara, I had always been this very perfectionistic, achievement-oriented, career-focused person and now I had this kid, this baby who lit up my life and it kind of blew my mind. But now I want it to be just as successful and great at that job as I did and when I looked at what I was kind of putting in and the sacrifices that I was making at work -- because before he was born, it wasn't unusual to work 80-100 hours a week and that's all I did, right? And now I couldn't, and I didn't want to and so I resigned my tenure track job, and at that point I was well-positioned for tenure and, literally, a colleague said, "You have the holy grail in the palm of your hand. Why would you do this?" I was about 30 years old at the time and that was the age that my dad was when he was diagnosed with cancer. So this idea -- and he passed away at thirty-two years old -- and so this idea of "I don't have forever," right, was very salient to me and that moment and it was more than a moment, but it was very salient to me at that stage of my life and so at that point, I made a really difficult decision consistent with my values, and I didn't know how that was going to turn out but it was I -- it was this very value-driven, authentic, but very hard. I took a pay cut I took, I didn't have the title, and ultimately it worked out. I won't go into the long story, but it doesn't mean that it's easy. It doesn't mean it always has a happy ending. You give things up. But I was saying "yes" to something that I knew was more important to me at that time. Now I have three teens and I'm, you know, fortunate to be blessed as a full professor at Wake and the business school and I'm thrilled, but it was not the traditional path at all.

Keith: Wow, Julie, thank you for sharing that story. I mean, that is, you know, it's one thing you listen to an expert, especially an academic expert, and it's, like, yeah, you've researched that. You can talk about it. But the thing I love about that story is you lived it, right? I mean, that's that is so amazing, so amazing.

Julie: Well, I don't say it to pat myself on the back, but I hope that your listeners realize that it's not always a beautiful, easy process. There were tears. I knew I was doing the right thing, but there were tears and there were costs and all those things that came with it but the key, I really do believe is if you are truly centered in what your values are and you're willing to live them out. I just -- I don't know, at least in my personal experience, I don't have any regrets whatsoever.

Sara: I love that so much, and I think if there is one lesson I'd want all of our listeners and everybody we interact with to know, it's that. It's decide what's most important to you and live into that instead of letting the world tell you who you should be.

Keith: Yeah. You almost choked up.

Sara: I know, you know, I get emotional about this stuff.

Keith: I know, I know. It's so good. Julie, way to go. I mean, certainly -- not on that story, just on the whole thing. What you've done, the focus of your research is an area that -- I mean, Sara, singularly what's the biggest topic that comes up in every program that we do? It's work-life balance. It's like my company is pushing and, excuse me, people want help. They want solutions. They haven't figured out and yet doing this courageous work and the research that you've done that has backed up so many of the principles that we've talked on this. Just thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you.

Julie: Can I put a caveat in here? Because here's what I don't want to do. I don't want to minimize how important it is for organizations to care and do things about this. Everything we've talked about is how people who want to grow as grown-ups can get more balance and what is within their control but leaders, organizations, our countries and people setting policy have a lot of influence on people's sense of balance as well and so by focusing on the things today, we focus on what, as individuals, can you do, but that does not lessen the responsibility that organizations have and leaders have, because first-line leaders, your direct boss has a big influence on your sense of balance.

Sara: Absolutely.

Julie: So thank you for letting me interject that caveat.

Keith: Oh, totally. Hey, I mean, that kind of leads to another thing. Do you go in for -- I know the demands of being a full professor at Wake and especially with that school's commitment to the student is a full-time job, but are you ever able to help organizations kind of sort through this? Are you allowed to do any of that?

Julie: Yes, and I do. So, again, when my kids were young, because the demands of teaching and research and service were so high, it was a choice that I made not to do consulting and I kind of stepped away from it but now I have three teens. They are not only independent, but they certainly don't always want to spend time hanging out with their mom and so that is something that I have, yes, I very much enjoy doing.

Keith: Well, if people are interested in contacting you, are you open to that? I'll ask you if you're open to it before we ask for how to do that, but.

Julie: Of course, absolutely. I mean, that's, for me, that's probably one of the most fulfilling parts of what I get to do, right, is I don't want to just study this and academics -- read it in journals, right? This is truly, again, what did I say? I want to help people.

Sara: The applied part, yeah.

Julie: Yes, right? So it's why I teach, it's why I love working with students is seeing them grow and develop, and to get to do quote "real people" is even --

Keith: I love that! So how would people -- what's the best way for people to find you, to reach -- I mean, we'll put things in the show notes as well, but what's the best way for people to get hold of you if they're -- if they feel like "man, my organization needs this".

Julie: So people certainly can find me on LinkedIn, but if you want to email me directly, my email is As in Wake Forest University. So I wish I was so cool that I could tell you my Twitter handle, but -- I do have one, but I don't have it handy -- and I'm not on it enough, so. Do the old school way, right?

Keith: You and me both!

Sara: I'm the youngest one of the team, I'm the same. I'm like, "I think I have a Twitter account and maybe we post things on it for work."

Keith: Maybe it starts in a hashtag, I don't even know.

Sara: I don't know.

Julie: @juliehwayne, but that may not be right.

Sara: Anything is a good place to send people.

Keith: Hey, Julie, thank you for your generosity with your time. I just totally feel like we could make two episodes out of this if we kept coming.

Sara: I know.

Keith: But so generous. So we appreciate you being with us and I know the listeners will and what a treat it was to have this sort of University of Georgia roundtable. Really fun.

Julie: Right? Go dogs!

Sara: I know, I wish you were closer. We could actually spend more time together, but hopefully this will not be the last time we chat.

Julie: Absolutely not. I've loved it, and so thank you for the opportunity. It's been a lot of fun.

Sara: All right. Well, thank you again. Take care.

Julie: Bye.