Tag Archives: Takes

Working mom takes on a challenge




Like most working mothers, I try to juggle work and family as best as I can. Recently, I decided I want to finish my master’s degree that I started many years ago, before I had children. To do so, I learned I would have to take my Graduate Record Exam (GRE) again.

When I saw the GRE practice tests, my first reaction was HOLY MOLY! That was followed by, “No way can I pass this test!” The math problems involved formulas I haven’t seen for 30 years such as the circumference of a circle and the area of a rectangle. The test has algebra, word problems, geometry. I was completely intimidated. I worried how I would ever find the time and energy to re-learn math concepts.

When I sat down to study, I felt overwhelmed. When I took practice tests, my first time around I got almost every problem wrong. But I was committed. I started to look at the exam differently. I know I will never need to know the circumference of a circle or the volume of a cube after the test is over, but I was proving to myself that I had the ability to learn new things. For the last month, I have spend every spare moment learning how to do math problems and memorizing difficult vocabulary words.

Today I took the actual exam and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Learning difficult material at 50 years old is one of the biggest challenges I have taken on. Yet, I’m so glad I did because I proved to myself I can handle a challenge.

If you’re thinking of taking on a challenge — academically, professionally, personally —  go for it. It’s a great sense of satisfaction knowing that personal development and work life balance are compatible.

What challenge will you take on before 2016 runs out?




Is “always on” the new normal? Work life balance takes disconnecting

Check out my column this week in the Miami Herald and let me know your thoughts. Do you think it's getting increasing harder to keep the work day to 8 hours?


Is ‘always on’ the new normal?


  Jorge Gonzalez walks through the office with his smartphone and laptop, the two tools that keep him constantly connected. He works as a recruiter at Albion Staffing Solutions and says he's "always on."
Jorge Gonzalez walks through the office with his smartphone and laptop, the two tools that keep him constantly connected. He works as a recruiter at Albion Staffing Solutions and says he's "always on."



I sit in the park, watching my son’s lacrosse practice and typing on my laptop. By the time he is done, I will have put in at least a solid hour of work and I will relish in how much better life has become since I had to stay late at the office behind a desktop computer screen to finish an article.

But with this ability to work where and when I want comes another reality: I’m always on. Sitting leisurely on the sideline at a sports practice is a luxury in which few working parents indulge. Around me are dads shooting off emails from their iPhones and mothers returning client calls.

For those of us with any level of responsibility, a 9 -o-5 work day just isn’t a reality. As Miami publicist John David points out: “Work starts the moment you look at your phone in the morning.” Now, more of us who feel like we are working longer hours than we used to are asking, what is an average work day or work week, anyway?

According to the recent American Time Use Survey, Americans ages 25-54 spent almost nine hours a day working or in work-related activities. That compares to about 7.5 to eight hours they spent on job responsibilities just five years ago.

For benefit purposes, many companies consider a minimum of 30 hours a week to be full time, which also is the case with Obamacare’s mandate. While that may be the minimum, most salaried employees now say they regularly work more than 40 hours and recruiters report that employers expect longer hours from professionals.

“They [job candidates] are going to agree to work whatever hours they have to because they know that there are 10 people behind them, and someone else will fill the spot,” explains Jorge Gonzalez, a partner in Albion Staffing Solutions in Doral.

Gonzalez said companies are strategic in issuing smartphones and tablets to staff to encourage “always on.” “It gives them accessibility to their workers anytime, so the work day could extend as long as the company and the customer dictate. Some people hear the beep at 1 a.m., and they will respond.”

Staffing professionals say they see more employers who advertise salaried jobs as 40-plus hours and more employees willing to take them — but not everyone. “I think it’s important for employers to be truthful when they are hiring,” said Debra Bathurst, vice president of human resources at Oasis Outsourcing in South Florida. “Some people can’t work over 40 hours. If there is an additional five or six hours of overtime or Saturdays expected, we recommend our clients discuss that up front.”

It’s hard to pin down exactly how much Americans are working, particularly because the number of part-time jobs has risen. Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a gradual rising trend in work hours through the 1990s that just recently tapered off, hovering at slightly more than 40 hours weekly.

Even for people who aren’t spending quite as many more hours working as they think they are, there is an explanation for why some might feel over-burdened, anyway. When you pair our connectivity with the fact that more women are in the workforce and there are fewer hours when anyone is taking care of household chores, that leaves less pure leisure time once we’re off work.

For the most part, Americans who are working longer hours are white-collar workers who do not punch a clock, don’t necessarily track their hours and have clients or customers to satisfy regardless of the time of day.

As the culture of workplaces evolves, the debate now is whether longer hours and constant connectivity lead to additional productivity and profitability. Some researchers assert just the opposite is true. In a 2012 article in Salon, “Bring Back the 40-Hour Work Week,” social futurist Sara Robinson writes that business owners across many sectors discovered that when they cut workers hours, their businesses became significantly more productive and profitable. She also asserts that excessive overtime and lack of sleep are bad for productivity, adding that most workers have six good hours in them a day.

As the workweek debate rages on, CEOs, researchers, economists and life coaches have their ideas of exactly how much time workers should be logging in. But if you think a shorter work will make you happier, you might want to take note: South Korea changed its labor regulations in 2004, reducing the work week to five days a week from six and 40 hours from 44. Researchers then found that those who worked fewer hours were not any happier than those who worked longer hours.

Meanwhile, wellness experts say they see the “always on” mentality and longer hours creating more anxiety and a search for boundaries. Gonzalez at Albion Staffing said his wife helps him push back against a work day that easily extends into the night. “If I didn’t have a grounded spouse, I would work all the time.”

Bathurst, on the other hand, believes some people feel good about the evolving definition of a work day. “No one is forcing us to check our phones when we are watching TV and hear the ping. Many of us enjoy what we do and if we can get things done at nights or on the weekend, we’re that much further ahead on Monday.”

As I smugly pack up my laptop and shuttle my son into the car, I see other parents putting away their devices and winding down their workday, too. We head home feeling productive, ready to refocus on family life — if we can manage to resist another peek at our email.



The Work/Life Balancing Act

Working Mom Takes a Risk to Improve her Work Life Balance

One day, Luly B., a working mom, looked at her life and her business and decided she needed to make a change. I admire that. It's easy to get in a rut but it takes guts to restructure your work or home life to bring more balance to your situation. I'm thrilled to have Luly as my guest blogger today to share her experience.

Here's her story:


LulyB_headshotFor more than 15 years, Lourdes Balepogi – or as
she’s affectionately known, Luly B – has consulted, coached and connected her way
to the top of her profession. She is the president of Chispa Marketing, her
Miami-based boutique marketing firm. She recently launched Luly B.,
Inc. in an effort to empower women entrepreneurs to have it all. She’s an expert speaker, consultant and strategist with a contagious energy
that will undoubtedly leave you inspired to act.



I did it. I took the plunge.
Followed my passion. No fear. No pride. Just plain and simple, I decided to
make a dream come true.

My dream?

To share my expertise and experiences not only as a
marketing expert of 15 years, but also my journey as a mom entrepreneur. The
guilt. The excitement. The turmoil of choice and priorities. The obstacles that
we can turn into opportunities.

Like millions of moms in the U.S., I left a career
in “Corporate America” to find balance as a mom. Six years ago, I had a six month
old, a 2 1/2 year old and a fledgling boutique marketing firm in Miami with
large-scale clients including the country’s largest college and one of the
world’s largest wine festivals.

Unfortunately, balance was the last thing I was
getting for many years. You see, so many women have begun and continue to begin
businesses (we are now opening businesses at twice the rate of men) but have trouble knowing our value,
negotiating, and scaling our businesses – myself included.

I struggled with guilt, self-doubt, and fear.
Eventually, I learned my lessons and continued to grow the company. Last
summer, though, I made the very bold decision to restructure my business. I made
my employees contractors who would work virtually, hired a few other
contractors, closed my office, and kept only my large-scale clients.

Because I had another idea; a growing passion.

The reason I restructured my business was simple,
but it felt profound. I realized that many mom entrepreneurs were experiencing
the same things as I was. The guilt; the day-to-day struggles, and most
frequently, the chase toward that elusive ideal of “balance.”

And having made the bold decision to drastically
change my business, I was ready to move on to my next journey – so I launched
my second company, Luly B, Inc. where I empower mom entrepreneurs to have it

And I’m so glad I made that decision.

Finally, I feel like I am beginning to have some
sanity in my life. You see, rather than getting stuck on the word
"balance" and trying to be
it all, I focused on what made ME happy so I could have it all – in marriage, with my children, and in business.

We need to stop putting so much pressure on
ourselves to be perfect and just focus on being happy. We are going to have to
make tough decisions, compromises, and prioritize constantly. But at the end of
the day, it's all worth it. Being an entrepreneur in our country is an amazing
opportunity and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. So screw the
balance! Balance is BS. It’s about being genuine, bold, and centered.

It’s about what makes YOU happy.

Click here to see my infographic 

The Work/Life Balancing Act