The Corporate Ladder Isn't the Only Path to Success.
Learn to Get the Most Our of Life. Work Less, Make More.
September 9, 1998
by Kimberly Sullivan
Work less. Make more. Oh sure, tell me another one. Need swamp land in Arizona?
But corporate expat Jennifer White swears up and down that she can transform the nowhere-life of the most hyperactive Type-A workaholic Donald Trump/Bill Gates wannabe into a smoothly satisfied family-centered Mr. Mom.
Yes, she says, we can have it all ? a rewarding, enriching personal life and a successful, challenging career with a boffo paycheck.
If that's what you want, that is.
"The first beliefs you need to look at (to change your life) are your beliefs about success," White says in her book Work Less, Make More ($25, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.). "Changing your perceptions about what it takes to be successful is vital to learning how to work less and make more."
LEARN BY DOING
White apparently knows what she's talking about. A Michigan native who was transplanted to Cincinnati several years ago, White worked her way up the corporate leader in marketing communications for a cellular company "by working 60 to 70 hours a week....with no time of my own," she said. "I had no outside interests....no life outside of work. Work was my life. When I was with my friends, all I talked about was work. When I was with my family, all I talked about was work. I thought that's what you were supposed to do."
But life in the corporate grind began to take its toll. She bailed out only to start a failed business venture with her husband that cost "thousands of dollars," leaving her to rethink her value system. "I figured therehad to be a better way to live your life. To have the stuff you want and the career while maintaining and expanding your (personal) life."
Her research into the corporate psyche and America's obsession with the perception of success led her to realize that most folks, even the "successful" ones, really don't know how to be successful. Or, for that matter, how to transplant the working components of their business success into their personal lives.
She also found that many of the stressed-out success stories were from folks who still clung to "the rules," like believing in a strict 9 to 5 workday, ignoring family needs for the sake of the job and the company, believing that all that overtime will be noticed, and eventually, rewarded.
"Society tends to pigeon-hole people into a certain routine, but it doesn't need to be that way," she said. "Many enlightened executives know they can have virtual organizations of telecommuters and flexible scheduling that allows employees to take care of personal and family needs while still being valuable, productive employees.
In fact, research shows that employees who have that flexibility are actually happier, more satisfied and more productive. They miss fewer days of work and have fewer stress-related illnesses. The idea is working smarter, not harder," White said.
Indeed, working smarter has become White's own personal credo as well as the foundation of her very successful "success" business, The JWC Group. Her company caters to clients who want to have it all, but just can't seem to figure out what they want to have.
"I've coached very powerful, successful people who really don't know what they want for themselves," she said. "They don't know how to set priorities for themselves....or really know who they want to be. Very fewof them can say they're happy." The idea that they can "work less" and still maintain income and career often comes as a shocker, she said.
"The first reaction I usually get is 'Oh right,'" she laughs. "Or they'll just stare at me with these big, wide eyes. 'Can you really do that?' they'll ask me. Working less has never been perceived as an option."
Working smarter for White means only concentrating on those tasks that you not only do well (your gifts) but also enjoy (your brilliance). In other words, do only what you love to do. Delegate the rest. Unfortunately, most of us were taught that it's not polite to think we're great.
"Work Less, Make More has nothing to do with looking at your weaknesses and it has nothing to do with balancing out your skills," White writes in her book. "It has to do with focusing on what's brilliant about you. What you shine at doing. Success is about tuning into your true gifts and becoming a master at that.
"The Work Less, Make More program requires that you redesign your life around your brilliance."
So what if you don't think you're very brilliant?
Hogwash, says the success coach. "The first exercise I do with my clients when they hire me as a coach is have them articulate what's great about them and also what typically gets in their way. Every client - and I mean everyone - somehow weaves in weaknesses when he or she is supposed to be focusing on strengths. That's what we've been taught to do."
How do you know what you do best? White asks that you answer these questions:
What do you do easily and naturally?
What do your customers pay for?
What does your company pay you for?
What have other people said you're really good at?
What activities energize you?
What consumes you ? what lights your fire?
What do you really want to do on your days off?
What qualities and skills do you see in other people that you know you have?
Once you've flushed out your brilliance, what your talent is, you need to test and see if it's also your passion, says White. How can you tell? Ask yourself this question: How unhappy would you be if you never did that again?
The core of White's thesis really isn't about working less to make more money, it's about focusing on what's really important in your life, so you have more of a life to live.
"So often we spend our time juggling multiple tasks that aren't important. We have very little time leftover for what we're really good at or what really enjoy," she said.
To rid your life of endless clutter and needless tasks, White suggests incorporating the 80/20 rule by making a list of how you spend your time. How you really spend your time. Include surfing on the Internet, returning phone calls, chatting with co-workers.
Most folks, she says, only spend about 30 percent of their time on high-payoff activities. "Imagine what your income would be if you spent 80 percent of your time on the important stuff," she writes. "That's how to use the 80/20 rule to harness the power of focus."
Writing out your priorities in life and sticking to them should become almost a mantra of success, she notes. Every successful person, just like every successful company, should have a vision statement.
So how can you break those nasty habits which lead to long hours and no life?
In addition to focusing on your talents and core priorities, White suggest slowing down by relying less on "the adrenaline habit" that many overachievers rely on to push ahead. Here's a few of her suggestions:
Stop drinking caffeine and eating sugar - it's a vicious cycle that will leave you more tired and less energized that if you drink water and eat well. Leave 15 minutes early for every appointment. If you're nervous about being late, you can't pay attention to what's going on around you. Stop meeting with people after 1 p.m.. Meeting with people takes energy and "your family gets to experience the crash when you walk in the front door," White writes. Stopping all appointments by 1 p.m. gives you four hours to settle down. Under-promise everything, over-deliver everything. Under-promising gives you a sense of ease, plus you have a built-in buffer in case things go wrong. Spend 80 percent of your time listening and 20 percent of your tie talking. 'Nuff said.
MAKE MORE WHAT?
So, okay, when you've got down the being brilliant part and you're only doing the things you're good at, and everyone realizes that you're a minor deity, just how do you go about making more?
Well, says White, there's more to life than just making a lot more money.
A-ha ? there is a catch, eh?
"People immediately think this is about making a lot of money fast. Sort of a get-rich-quick scheme," she said. "It's not. It's more about the quality of your life - and having enough to live your life the way you want.
"What I want for you to have is a high income without sacrificing who you are, without sacrificing the relationships in your life," she writes in the book.
By following the "work less" rules - delegating things you're not good at, networking and concentrating on your brilliance, White said you work should naturally lead to a good income - as long as you're working smarter.
White says the key is having a reserve - saving for tough times so you don't always have to worry about finances. "Not having a reserve of money forces you to focus on survival," she said. "Working less and making more is not about surviving. It's about living."
How do you build up a reserve? Here are her key points:
Reduce expenses ("Why not reduce your expenses by 50 percent and take the extra money and build the reserve?" she asks.) Change your investment strategy. Take 10 percent from each paycheck and stick it in a reserve account. Create a new revenue stream where the monies are only used for your reserve account.
White's bottom line of generating income stresses having multiple sources of income as well. Royalties, rental income, residual income, new services are all ways you can have your money working for you, she notes.
LIFE'S A BREEZE
While White, 30, espouses the virtues of simplicity and organization in the workplace and in the home, she also recognizes that some of the folks who may really need her book are the very ones who may think they're too busy to even read it. For these people, White is penning her second book entitled 101 Ways to Work Less, Make More.
"It's breezy....like one of those thought of the day books," she said.
And does she practice what she preaches? "Absolutely. I work 40-42 hours a week at a job I love, and I have a great life with a supportive husband and friends and hobbies. I'm happy."