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Nope. You Can’t Have It All.

In this week’s newsletter, I used the Secret Sessions with Tracy column to discuss success, and how you can feel safe and confident with what you already have. About a month ago, I saw my female Generation Y Facebook friends rapidly posting Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in The Atlantic on how she discovered through her personal journey working for Secretary Clinton and balancing her desires to be a better mom to her teenage son that women couldn’t have it all. The online dialogue about this hasn’t stopped and I decided to throw my own two cents in and would love your comments.

I had never heard of Professor Slaughter before I read her piece and it sounded like she has an amazing and intense career with crazy impressive credentials, all earned while growing a family. I admire her for that and my intent is not to bring down another woman, but she published her piece in the public domain opening it up for discussion. And when I read her article, I hate to say that I cringed over and over again. I wondered if The Atlantic was afraid of editing such a distinguished academic, but it seemed rambling at times and more importantly, I just didn’t get her point.

I know women are responding to this article because they really want to have it all. My take is that is just not possible. We have limited resources, including time, energy, emotions, and money and there are just too much in today’s world to experience it “all” at high levels. Really, for an effective life, the focus must be on enough, and you can have enough of what you want with clarity and strategy.

Here are three coaching tips for folks who are feeling unfulfilled with the current status of their lives.

Do you know what “all” is?

When I read the piece, I had no idea what “all” was for Slaughter (I’m not going to recap the article so if you haven’t read it, please visit the link above for context). Was “all” really working 18-hour days for someone else doing bureaucratic work? Because the work that she described she was doing at the state department didn’t sound fulfilling and she hinted it was a pain the ass. So was it the title, power, and access? If it was the second that she truly wanted, there are lots of different ways to achieve that with different time constructs and relationships.

Second, did Slaughter want to spend more time with her son or did she just feel guilty about the decisions she had made? It was unclear to me. I wouldn’t judge any parent for making decisions about her life balance- after all, earning a good living and taking care of your life is important to being a good caretaker. But you have to know and then act accordingly.

The “all” you almost everyone is aiming for is experienced through emotional satisfaction and flow, not a collection of achievements and experiences. We have a hard time with this because job titles are so tangible and feelings are amorphous, but it’s the path to contentment.

No one gets unlimited time so get comfortable making choices and determining priorities.

Maybe it was just clear to me, but Slaughter seemed to want to do 48 hours of activity in every day, which limited her credibility on the topic for me. Time management is not a mother or gender issue. You must make choices about your time and energy. No one gets to avoid prioritizing.

When I chose to start a company, I knew that for a specific period of time I would work monster hours, be stressed about money, and potentially strain my relationships, as well as put a temporary halt on my quest to start a family. This was a choice I made because the urge to start my company was so strong. Logically, you cannot starts something without initial sacrifices and I talked about this when I was a guest on the GTD Virtual Study Group podcast. I made a commitment to limit the period of my sacrifice as I gained more resources and understanding of strategy that worked for me. Again, make timebound choices that make you feel empowered.

Finally, You can do more things if you accept you can’t be perfect at everything. Sometimes your work won’t be as great as you want it to be, but you’ll probably be the only one who notices. And yes, daycare is essential, but your guilt is not. So ask yourself what can I delegate? What can I ask for help with? What can you say no to? This piece from Fast Company on the myth of “work life balance” has more specific tips I highly recommend.

Your story is not only about you.

The part that left me with the most discomfort after reading Slaughter’s piece is how she treated the role of her husband and son in her journey. Her marriage may be fantastic, but her choices in writing on how she recognized their role in her journey was troubling to me. You can’t tell your story without the inclusion of critical characters.

What we do has an impact on our friends, family, and others. Life is about enjoyment and sharing experiences and you can’t hole yourself on a solo path without including people. All or enough is no fun on your own. Your relationships should not be an end destiny or about is not about ownership and collection. How can you plan to be present others while pursuing your goals and not have them as part of your collateral damage.

So what do you think? And if you want to read more about it, Harvard Business Review had a great series on Slaughter’s piece. Here are three posts from that series I highly recommend reading.

Anne-Marie Slaughter Misses a Huge Opportunity by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
– how Slaughter’s focus on motherhood is a disservice when childless women face the same issues (amen, sister)

“Having It All” Is Not a Women’s Issue by Stew Friedman
– the male response

Sandberg vs Slaughter, Who Wins? Business Loses by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
– what is our responsibility as women in creating power in the workplace?


Rosie the Riveter image courtesy of Wikipedia

Our Summer eCourse, Updates and Music Monday

Summer is definitely a time when “go-go-go” easily becomes the norm. With that in mind, we want you to take a moment and pause with us, as we have three very important things we’d like to share with you today.

eCourse is live!

We are very excited to let you know our eCourse is finally here, Avoid a Cruel Summer: 12 Ways to Up Your Game for 2013. With Tracy’s help, we’ll ensure you take those much needed moments to reflect and move towards your goals this summer, and it’s portable so you can have some fun while doing it (i.e. bring it poolside or to the beach)!

It’s up to each of us to make sure we take a little time to regroup in the midst of all the chaos. We just know this eCourse will help bring you that much closer to aligning your goals for the rest of 2012.

 Congrats, Lauren!

Also, today is the first day of full-time work for our graduating intern, and ‘Cuse ’12 grad Lauren Wannermeyer. For those of you who participated in The Graduation Project webinar series, you know that Lauren did some heavy thinking about risk and reward in her career search the last few months and we are so proud that she took the leap to move to DC and pursue her dream. We hope she gets the flowers we sent to her new office!

Update on Our Lost Friend Hope Reichbach

On a sadder note, our team, especially Tracy, is devastated this morning to hear about the passing of Gus Reichbach, father of Hope Reichbach, one of the first friends of The Opportunities Project and a great force of light that we lost too soon. We loved Gus because Hope did and we know that this not only a loss for her family, but all of Brooklyn and the thousands of people he helped as a judge in the court system. It’s hard to believe that Hope would have only turned 24 on July 24th. If you have some extra funds and believe in internships like we do, please consider donating to the Hope Reichbach Memorial Fund. You will not be sorry.

Take a moment and enjoy today’s Music Monday, then go check out Hope’s Fund and register for this summer’s guided journey.

We can’t wait to hear from you on your progress, so join our Facebook community today!



Being Spunky and Bold: Hope Reichbach

I was saddened to learn about the unexpected passing of our neighbor and friend Hope Reichbach, Communications Director for City Councilman Steve Levin. I found out about an hour after the story was published in The Brooklyn Paper via email from an online friend and website visitor who asked if she was the young woman I interviewed on my podcast. It is.

Hope I met Hope in July 2010 through my colleague Eve who was helping market The Opportunities Project when it was just an idea. Hope had begun her campaign for District Leader and she offered to be interviewed for my first podcast. It was a mutual admiration society. Hope was everything that was good about GenY- young, spunky, idealistic, about the social good, driven and after results. She loved the idea of The Opportunities Project and our mission to coach young people on professional success because she knew her peers needed it and wanted to help.

In September 2010, Eve, Hope and I got together and recorded a 45 minute interview in Hope’s apartment, surrounded by stacks of campaign materials. Her interview was everything I could hope for in my first run. She was direct and open about how important her family was to her success and how young people needed to think differently if they were going to achieve their dreams. You can listen to the podcast here.

Hope and I only hung out a few times after the interview, but as a Brooklynite, I felt like I saw her everywhere doing everything she could to make this borough a better place. There is not much you can say when someone so young passes. As a coach, I almost feel obligated to say something about how we should take lessons from how Hope went for it no matter what, and what are you doing today, yada, yada, yada. But instead, I think I’ll just be sad and feel the loss. I saw a blog tweeted last night that said it better, anyway.

“She was a very nice person, Hope Reichbach. I’m so sorry for her family and friend’s loss. And ours too because this girl was going somewhere. And she would have taken Brooklyn with her.”

Our thoughts and tears are with her family and friends today.


PS: I never published the podcast on ITunes, nor recorded another episode because podcasting never found its place in my schedule (though I have talked about bringing it back with my team a few times). I received an email via my website from a friend of Hope’s who asked if I could make it downloadable because he’d like to have her voice on his IPod. A colleague is helping me do that and when we can get it up, I’ll put an update on this blog post with the link if you’d like to download it.

UPDATE: Hope’s interview was uploaded to approved by ITunes. You can download it directly from the ITunes Store. We hope it offers comfort to her friends and family.

P.P.S. The Park Slope Patch will have information about Hope’s memorial service on Sunday, May 1.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog


Podcast Episode 1: Interview with Hope Reichbach

We just recorded our first podcast! For our first episode ever, we interviewed Hope Reichbach, a Brooklyn neighbor who graduated early from NYU and is now running for political office. In her interview, she talks about the lessons she learned in getting her career started.

We are using the Strategic Career Starts label for our podcast series, our LinkedIn group, and our Meetup. Be Strategic is one of our six core competencies and one of the most important three in developing a great career. When you listen to Hope’s story, you’ll see what we mean.

So listen to our first episode, quirks and all. One lesson is not to take allergy medicine 15 minutes before recording. It makes your brain fuzzy and you say “um” a lot. Another thing is that Strategic Career Starts has a lot of “r”s for a girl who grew up in a Massachusetts fishing town and still struggles with her “r”s. Practice will make perfect. Strategic Career Starts, Strategic Career Starts…

Enjoy…. and learn!


The Strategic Career Starts Podcast Series