Ep 4: Work, Life, Family: When to ‘Sway’: Practical Tips for Working Parents

Joann Lublin joins Priya and Paul on The Work-Life Equation podcast

Pulitzer-prize winning Wall Street Journal reporter and author Joann Lublin shares invaluable wisdom from her books Power Moms and Earning It which detail how executive mothers can thrive at the highest levels while navigating work and family. Lublin reveals eye-opening findings from her interviews with more than 100 trailblazing leaders across generations, including powerful strategies they used to overcome bias, find work-life sway, and pay it forward to uplift other women. With candid storytelling and practical advice, Joann shows how embracing mentorship and choosing the right workplace enables ambitious moms to redefine success on their own terms.

Read the full transcript

00:00:05 – Commercial
Welcome to The Work-Life Equation, hosted by Priya Krishnan and Paul Sullivan. During this episode, you will hear from working parents just like you who understand the daily struggles and triumphs while finding our unique work life equation. Now, here are your hosts.

00:00:23 - Priya Krishnan
Hello everyone, and welcome to The Work-Life Equation podcast. I'm Priya Krishnan and I'm the Chief Digital and Transformation Officer at Bright Horizons.

00:00:30 - Paul Sullivan
And I'm Paul Sullivan, co-founder of the Company of Dads. Today our guest is Joann Lublin. We're thrilled to welcome her to the show. She's a longtime contributor to the Wall Street Journal. During her distinguished career, she launched an acclaimed career advice column, which ran from 1993 to 2020. She shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for the paper's corporate governance report, and she received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Loeb Awards for excellence in business journeys. She's also the author of two books, including, most recently, power, how executive mothers navigate Work and life. With decades of experience covering leadership and women's advancement in the workplace, Joann provides invaluable perspective. We're thrilled to have her on the show today. So welcome Joann.

00:01:18 - Joann Lublin
Thank you, Paul and Priya. I'm really excited to be here.

00:01:22 - Priya Krishnan
Thanks a lot. Joann. And you and I have chatted in the past and you stayed committed to the space of saying, how do we enable care supports within the workplace? And that was how you and I got introduced the first time around. I'd love for you to tell our audience about and it certainly you and I were talking just before we started. It was a very relatable book for me, but it'd be great if you could talk about what was your aim and ambition with the book and what were some of the findings.

00:01:53 - Joann Lublin
Sure. It's actually definitely a labor of love, no pun intended. It's my second book, and it was essentially an outgrowth of the first book. My first book is called earning it hard won lessons from trailblazing women at the top of the business world. I interviewed 52 women, all but one of whom came from my generation, the baby boomer generation. I looked at personal and professional obstacles that they had overcome, such as gender bias and how that made them better business leaders. About two thirds of those 52 women turned out to be moms. And when you drill down, there was an even higher percentage of moms among those who ended up becoming public company CEO's, people like Mary Barra at General Motors, which kind of then gave me the germ of the idea for the second book. I wondered whether women who were under 45 anywhere from their early thirties to early forties. Whether it was any easier for them because of the trailblazing that these power moms from this rumor generation had blazed, or had things basically gotten worse, I wasn't sure what I was going to find. I interviewed 86 women executives with children, half of whom were boomers. The other half were Gen Xers and millennials. On top of that, I also spoke with 25 young adult daughters of the boomers. What was it like growing up with a larger than life mother? What I ended up realizing is that there had been a profound cultural shift, that things really had gotten better for that younger wave of executive moms. Technology had improved. Their relationship with their significant other. If they had a partner or a husband was definitely different. Many of those younger women would not tolerate being told that they were going to have to be the main carrier of all the burden of being a parent and running the household. But equally important, the workplace had changed. There were many, many more family friendly workplaces. When I joined the workforce, and many of the boomers joined the workforce, you couldn't choose to leave one company to go to a family or friendlier workplace. Pretty much every workplace was family unfriendly. Your only alternative then was to start your own business. Equally important, those younger women, the wave of executive moms who were in that younger group had role models and sponsors and mentors. And these were women who had blazed those trails, who were now in senior management and could act as their outspoken advocate when it came to advancement, when it came to getting those plum assignments, as well as telling them how it worked for them and how they could get an easier time of it.

00:05:11 - Paul Sullivan
You know, I really enjoyed the book, Joann, and I loved the way you broke it up between successful boomer moms, successful sort of millennia Gen Xer moms, but then also their daughters and how they responded. But one thing, just in terms of time, it seemed like your research wrapped up around 2019 2020. The book came out in 21. Before we came on the air today, you were talking about reconnecting with one of the power moms you interviewed for the book, who was working running an all remote company. I'm wondering, as you've stayed in touch with some of the women that you interviewed for the book, how has the pandemic changed the way they were working and living and what you call at one point in the book their work Life sway, which is a term I really love. How has the pandemic changed that?

00:06:03 - Joann Lublin
Well, it's interesting because three of those younger wave women were already working remotely in an executive role before the pandemic hit, I turned in the manuscript literally the day before America shut down. And I was really happy because I had been a hermit for six months writing the manuscript, and I thought, great, now I get to go out and play. And then everybody got sent home where I'd already been stuck for a while. But luckily for me, there was an editing process, and so I was able to revisit those three women and incorporate some of what they were experiencing, because while they had worked remotely pre pandemic, their children weren't at home with them. And so the rules changed greatly, and they all adopted in one way or another, the one that I highlighted in the book. Her husband and she were each in the process of starting their own businesses from the home, and suddenly they now had two school age kids who they had to remotely educate as well as try to get their enterprises off the ground. They ended up putting together an excel spreadsheet that they essentially assembled every Sunday night. They assigned two hour shifts to each one of them every workday, in which they were essentially taking turns at educating home, educating their children, and still having time to essentially put their businesses back on track to getting launched and still finding time for someone to do the laundry and cook the food. They ended up having to revise their excel spreadsheet every night because life intruded. And after about a couple months of doing this, they decided this actually wasn't working. And they, like many other New Yorkers, left New York, moved to Alaska, where she was from and where her parents still lived, where they realized they could actually have a better work life arrangement, because they essentially parked the two kids with the grandparents for two and a half days of the work week, giving them two and a half days of uninterrupted work. And then they collected their kids to work underfoot for the rest of the work week. But this was, again, another manifestation of work life sway. Work life sway is very, very different than work life balance, and it's a concept that one of the younger power moms introduced me to. It's the notion that when we have to be focused on a work task, we give 110%. When life intrudes, the kid who's sitting on your lap during the zoom call and barfs or the dog pees on your foot during the Zoom call, we somehow sway out of work mode and into life mode. We then devote 110% of our attention to that life issue, but we do it without guilt. Now, I went back to another one of those remote moms who once again had to adapt during the pandemic to her children, once again, now being in the house and asked her what she did to make it possible to succeed as an executive at a fully remote company. And one of the things that she did was she insisted on and negotiated this with her boss of having 2 hours each work day in which she was essentially not reachable. And for her, that was early in the morning. And it's when she essentially spent time with her kids and did stuff that needed to be done around the house. Some other women set that limit as being 4 hours, but the idea was you were going to get the work done whenever it made the most sense for you. I think what was so incredible about the pandemic was that we proved that the remote work arrangement is something that is viable for white collar workers and for people even in positions of executive leadership. And now that there's a lot of pressure to get back into the office at least a couple days a week, those parents who choose to continue working 100% remotely, I think, are facing some new challenges.

00:10:39 - Priya Krishnan
And so, you know, it's interesting, we've all in this transition. I love the term work-life sway as well. It is moving between the two. We call the podcast the work life equation. Also because of the fact that you have to find this equation between work and life, and it could change consistently, both depending on time of day or life stage. But as people have gone from going remote, and there are all the benefits about being in the office, there are the benefits of being remote. Have you seen the fact that people are able to work remotely? Has that increased participation? Or we talk about, at least, I certainly believe in this principle of designing work around life, right? So can I break my workday into four chunks? Could it be 2 hours in the morning? Can I pick up the kids after school and then go back into the workday? Do you see that more facilitated? Do you see male leaders as open to it as female leaders? Or do you see any differences there? I know you interviewed female executives through this process, but is there a difference?

00:11:51 - Joann Lublin
Well, I think the difference kind of depends on the corporate culture. How tolerant is the corporate culture about flexibility? How tolerant is the corporate culture about what that younger executive mom did, which was essentially her protected period? Does the people in management and senior roles, do they practice what they preach? If there is, for instance, an extended parental leave policy, do people in senior management not only take it, but do they broadcast it? And that's why it's so important for there to be people walking the talk, not just talking the talk. If indeed, you believe that those who are working remotely, predominantly or entirely have as much chance as those who are in the office overwhelmingly or all the time at getting ahead, then you need to be tracking your practices in terms of evaluations, in terms of assignments, in terms of projects. Are there differences in how people are being treated who are remotely entirely versus fully in the office? There is, as I'm sure you're aware, something called proximity bias, which is the notion that the person I can see is the person I'm going to call on to do x or y or come with me to the, we just got summoned to the CEO's office for a huge pow wow type of thing. And that's why I think it's remarkable that several of those companies I highlight in the book, like PNC, are actually tracking what is different or similar about the promotion rates for those who are working entirely remotely versus those who are predominantly back in the office. So it's kind of a TBD situation, it seems to me.

00:13:48 - Paul Sullivan
That's such a good point. You know, business leaders always talk about how you have to measure everything if you want to improve it or you want to manage it. But when you think about those individual managers who perhaps have much more experience pre pandemic than post pandemic, can they be trained to sort of think differently about the moment we're in now around, you know, parents and caregivers and how they're trying to, you know, find their own ability to have that work life sway? Is that, you know, a trainable skill, or are you saying that, you know, certain companies are going to be, you know, preternaturally more predisposed to this than others, and therefore, you know, people are going to sort of sell up, self select into different companies?

00:14:31 - Joann Lublin
I do think that people can be trained in a variety of skills, but whether they then put that training into action is something else. And I do think it comes down to what it looks like is acceptable, tolerated, or encouraged behavior. There was this great example in the book involving Jen Hyman, who's the CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway, who, when she decided to extend her family friendly benefits to everyone in the company and not just limited to those who were salaried, she noticed that relatively few men were taking their allotted paid parental leave. And she was surprised by this because it was fairly generous. And now anyone in the company could take this, men and women alike, hourly and salaried employees. So when her Chief Technology Officer was getting ready to go out on his parental leave, she said to him, I want you to broadcast your intentions, not just to your team, but companywide. Let everyone know what you're doing, why you're doing it, why it will be good for you, while it will be good for your spouse, while it will be good for the child that's coming, but also while it will be good for the company. And lo and behold, after he did this, she said there wasn't a single guy in the company who didn't take his full parental leave.

00:16:09 - Priya Krishnan
That is so interesting. And I think role modeling, like you said, is so critical and storytelling internally.

00:16:15 - Joann Lublin

00:16:15 - Priya Krishnan
Saying, this happens, you have permission, you get to do this. And senior leaders, you know, role modeling is really, really important.

00:16:23 - Joann Lublin
But there's also Priya, there's another side to this, too, which is that the frontline supervisor is where the rubber meets the road. And if the frontline supervisor feels like all these people are going out on parental leave and I'm short staff, plus the people who are left to sort of pick up the load, those who either don't have children, don't plan to have children, or their children have left the nest, are not too happy about having to do double duty or triple duty or whatever. They need to look at the example of American Express, which, when they made their parental leave, much more generous, decided they would, at the same time, give frontline supervisors an additional pot of money to hire temporary staff to fill in some of those gaps. And so when I show up at American Express to interview one of their executive firms, the PR guy, internal PR guy I've been dealing with, is nowhere to be found. I'm greeted by an agency PR woman who said, oh, yeah, he left on new parent leave last week. He won't be back for several months. I'm the temporary PR person who's been brought in from an agency to fill in for him while he's gone. Problem solved. And the frontline supervisor doesn't feel like they're getting the short end of the stick. Yeah.

00:17:49 - Priya Krishnan
And there's motivated to make it happen. It is such an important point. It is. The work of the work has to get done. So it's one thing to say, you know, here are the benefits. How you actually going to get there? Thank you for raising that. You mentioned kindly bright horizons in both of the books. So I will not miss the opportunity to ask you the question around supports and how do you think employers think about this, especially in the context of both groups where you've interviewed female leaders and talking about how they progress in their career?

00:18:20 - Joann Lublin
Absolutely. I do think that when women, particularly when they get into the CEO role, understand in their gut exactly what women in their workplace are going through, because frankly, they went through it. They've been mansplained, they've been passed over. They've been told by guys, I don't work for a woman. That was what, frankly, blew the socks off some of the younger women that I interviewed for both books, that these boomer women had to deal with men who didn't even want to have women as bosses, much less women who were moms. And so I do think that then when women get into positions of power, they take it upon themselves, their obligation as leaders to pay it forward. And that's why all these women, for both books, spoke frankly about their shortcomings as well as their achievements, and did so on the record, because they wanted women who come after them to not have to totally reinvent the wheel, even if that meant having to explain what their warts were and where they fell down on the job. I also think that when women get into leadership roles, they're much more supportive of the notion of having employee resource groups, of inculcating things like the Rooney rule, of insisting that there be unconscious bias training on a regular basis. And stop me if I'm using any terms that people who are listening may not understand.

00:20:01 - Priya Krishnan
I think certainly explaining the Rooney rule will be interesting because that makes for, you know, what does, how did, what is the Rooney rule would be interesting. I think unconscious bias is largely understood.

00:20:13 - Joann Lublin
So the Rooney rule was one that was adopted by the National Football League some years ago in order to increase the chances that people of color would end up in coaching positions by essentially saying that there had to be diverse interview slates. There are a number of companies that have now put in the Rooney rule and say for jobs at all levels, but particularly management positions, to say, you can't just interview white guys. The problem is we're now going through this anti-DEI backlash period where companies that have been using the Rooney rule are worried as to whether this is going to expose them to a legal challenge or even perhaps a consumer boycott, if somehow it is viewed as giving differential treatment to women and people of color, as opposed to simply widening the lens and opening up opportunities to other people in the musical world. It used to be that tryouts for orchestras happened with everyone being visible. What they did there to try increase gender and racial diversity is they started doing blind auditions where you could not see who was sitting behind the screen. And they even went to the point, I believe, at some point of insisting that people come on barefoot, so you didn't see whether they were wearing heels or men's shoes, and has resulted in a great change in the makeup of many orchestras.

00:21:57 - Paul Sullivan
It's fascinating stuff, Joe. And I want to come back to the point you're making about American Express. When you showed up at the office, the PR guy was out on parental leave. You have another example in the book where I believe it's Joann and Joann. You talk about what at first you thought was a fairly stingy leave policy, correct me here, eight or twelve weeks, something like that. But then you realized it was extended to all $130,000 people they have around the world. And that got me thinking. You know, we're talking largely about white collar jobs where people can be shuffled around to fill in or you can bring in the external PR person. What did you find around, you know, leaders who had a workforce that was either predominantly hourly wage workers, or there was a mix between salaried executives and hourly wage workers. How do they make some of those policies equitable across the workforce when if you lose the hourly wage worker at CV's or something like that, you have to replace that person directly with another person, as opposed to a salary executive, where you can perhaps shift the burden for some period of time to fill in for his or her absence?

00:23:05 - Joann Lublin
Paul, that's an excellent question, and it was certainly one that Jen Hyman struggled with, because I was shocked, shocked to find out that when she co-founded this company, they had a two tiered system. They had a set of benefits for those who were salaried. They had a different set of benefits for those who were hourly. It didn't just extend to family friendly benefits, it was essentially company wide. And in fact, I asked her, why would you have started a company with that kind of a two tiered system? And her response was pretty simple. It was, that's the way it was done. Unfortunately, even today in America, there's huge amount of herd instinct where practices essentially go on beyond the point when they are fair or equitable, simply because it's the way it's always been done. And yet I saw this time and time again in the many years I was covering workplace issues, that when the bigger companies started changing their practices, it would then cascade down to the midsize companies and about five years later, the smaller companies. Now, then, once startups started popping up, especially in the tech world, and we're trying to sort of change the way we look at work and how we think of work, it then started going in the opposite way. But for the most part, how we reward people and what kind of benefits we give them is going to happen on a top down, big company basis. But I also think it's interesting to think about the fact that what's important to people at the hourly level is also going to vary by what part of the world that you live in. I was really struck several years ago after earning. It came out when I was on a panel with a Mercer benefits consultant who talked about being in advising a company in Indonesia which had a lot of hourly female workers who they asked, what benefits would you like that you don't get? And these hourly female workers said, well, we'd like to get a new helmet twice a year rather than once a year. I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought maybe this was some protective gear in the factory. Well, it turned out that these women rode to work in an open air truck, and the men in the villages that the truck traveled through did not think it was appropriate that women should be working outside the home. So they would throw rocks at them. They equipped them with essentially football helmets, the equivalent so that they didn't get hit with the rocks. And they got so many dents in the helmets that they wanted two helmets a year rather than one. I think it's really important that companies constantly do employee surveys, and they do different surveys for different issues and for different levels of people. And pay attention to what you're hearing is working and not working.

00:26:12 - Paul Sullivan
You've been listening to Joann Lublin on The Work-Life Equation with Priya and Paul. We're just going to take a short break and we'll come back for part number two.

00:26:29 - Speaker A
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00:27:24 - Paul Sullivan
Welcome back to The Work-Life Equation with Priya and Paul. Our guest today is Joann Lublin, longtime Wall Street Journal reporter and columnist and the author of Power Moms and earning it.

00:27:37 - Priya Krishnan
And earning it Joann, you know, you in the book talk about working guilt, and there's a very, there's a clear visual of, you know, your daughter running to you and holding onto your leg and saying, are you leaving me? When you were headed into London? And you talk about working guilt, working mom guilt, I'd love for you to talk about how you dealt with it and what can people do to alleviate it. I don't think it ever goes away.

00:28:06 - Joann Lublin
No, I don't think it ever goes away. And even when your children are grown up, you still have working mother guilt. But you know what? It's not a very useful use of your energy. And frankly, reporting this book educated me about that. There are about a half a dozen women who are featured in earning it, who make a repeat appearance in power moms. And one of them actually suggested you need to add a chapter of hacks to help people cope with working mother guilt. I think the best hack that she suggested was this notion of looking at your life as the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. If it's 630 in the evening and you're finally sitting down to dinner with your significant other and your children, rather than wring your hands over the fact that it's 630 till you've finally got dinner on the table, celebrate the fact it's a weeknight and you're actually having dinner with the people that you love the most in the world and your life partner. And so for me, that was one of the things I had to get rid of. I had to ditch the working mother guilt over the fact that pretty much every weeknight when our kids were little, at 630, we were sitting down to dinner and my mother would call and she would say, am I getting you at a bad time? Is this the middle of dinner? And I would invariably say, yes, you're catching me at the same bad time you caught me at last night. I'll call you back later. And I just kind of rolled with the punches. I also, I think another way that I learned to cope with working mother guilt is I came to recognize the importance of self-care, which is another one of the suggested hacks in that chapter. I well remember one weekday evening when our son Dan was about three. He was in the living room playing with Legos with his dad. I decided this was a good time to take a bubble bath. I had no sooner sunk below the suds when there's a knocking at the door. Mommy. Mommy, what are you doing, Dan? Mommy's having some me time. Mommy. I want to have me time with you. I said, Dan, go back into the living room and play Lego some more with dad. When I'm done with my me time, I will read you a good night story and tuck you into bed. Ok. The other thing that I found really useful when we moved to London was that every year when my kids had spring break, I took a vacation day with each child and it was their mommy day. They got to decide what they wanted to do. The first year that I did this, Dan got to do it first because he was the eldest. I said, you can pick any activity you want. I am totally yours for the entire day. So we spent the entire day in a toy store.

00:31:29 - Priya Krishnan
How bad?

00:31:30 - Joann Lublin

00:31:33 - Paul Sullivan
That's wonderful. You know, my daughters are 611 and 14 and I love the bubble bass. Right. I think probably, surely you did what we've done and you just reversed the lock so you could then lock the door from the other side and there's no way you could get in, right?

00:31:46 - Joann Lublin
It already was locked. That's why he was pounding on the door. If it wasn't locked, he would have walked in and jumped into the tube. Are you kidding?

00:31:55 - Paul Sullivan
One thing I would like to talk a bit about Dan. You've got a son, a daughter. Your husband, Mike, he makes a cameo in the book. But Dan has three children now. And you talk about how his parental leave has evolved with each child, how his involvement, both at work and at home, has evolved with each child. Can you sort of touch on that both, you know, how he did it himself personally and then what that meant for him, you know, when he would have conversations with his managers at the different jobs when his children were born.

00:32:28 - Joann Lublin
Well, I think Dan epitomizes how far we have come in terms of how parents in the workplace can flourish. His eldest child, when she was born, he had no options in terms of taking parental leave. And in fact, my husband and I each went out to Minnesota and spent. We took two different shifts. My husband did one week and I did another week to extend the time after his wife had gone back to work. And Dan obviously had already come back to work before they needed to enroll their newborn in a childcare center when their second child was born. That child, now their eldest, is twelve. Their second child is now ten. Dan was at that point and did through all three children's birth work for the state of Minnesota. Dan is now offered the opportunity to take what is called paternity leave. He's very reluctant to do so because no one in his office has ever taken paternity leave. He would be the first man in his predominantly male office to do this, but his wife is pretty insistent because what has happened in the meantime is she has switched jobs. She joins a company where you are not given any paid parental leave, or in this case, it's still called maternity leave until you've been there twelve months and their baby is due after eleven months on the job. So officially she heads at zero maternity leave. The company is nice enough to let her take her month's vacation and then one month maternity leave, but she doesn't want to go back after two months because she had gone back after four months with child number one. Dan has this opportunity to take the additional two months, and so she essentially tells him, I really want you to do this, Dan. He does it with great reluctance. He even continues to dial into the weekly staff call on Mondays while he's home on paternity leave. I go, how well is that working? He said, oh, it's fine. And, you know, if the baby's crying, I just mute my end and, you know, it works out just fine. I said, did you take the baby into the office? He said, I did. And everybody oohed and odd and I was just mortified. So it really wasn't a super positive experience because it was really new. Now we fast forward. His youngest is almost six when she's born. When the third child is born, he's now a manager. He not only proudly takes his what is now parental leave, but he then, after returning from parental leave, is faced with a parental leave issue among his workforce because the folks he is supervising who are newer parents, want to be able to bring their newborns to the office. People who have no kids, who have older or grown children, don't think this is such a great idea. And so he calls me, mom, what should I do? I said, it sounds to me like this is a decision that you have to make, not me. I said, I think you need to weigh the pluses and minuses and figure out what it is, you know, what's going to work for your workplace and can you make arrangements? Do people. I didn't even know how his agency was set up. Do people have private offices that they could bring newborns to? Any case, long story short, he decided that that really wasn't going to work. But what's interesting here is over the course of seven years, because his eldest is seven, when the youngest is born, things totally change in his work world.

00:36:39 - Priya Krishnan
And it's wonderful also to see it happen in one generation of kids, right? And employers have become much more supportive. That certainly keeps us in existence. You've spoken about both your kids.

00:36:58 - Joann Lublin
It's okay.

00:36:59 - Priya Krishnan
Tell us about Michael, your husband, who came and helped you with tech support. And you mentioned that you have a unique marriage contract. So talk about that.

00:37:11 - Joann Lublin
So when we decided to get married, I was already working for the Wall Street Journal. I had established my career under my name. I announced to my new fiancé that I wasn't planning to take his last name. And he was quite flustered by this and said, how will people know that we are married? And I said, well, if that's an issue, particularly. We were living in California at the time where no one really cared whether you were married or not. But he had relatives back east in the Philly area. If you want everyone to know that we're married, let's hyphenate our names. And he thought about that for 30 seconds and then said, but then I'd have to change mine. I said, uh huh. Yeah, that's the point. So this made me start wondering what else might be at risk here. When I got married, remember, this is the 1970s. And I started doing some looking into this issue, and I discovered there was a law on the book in California that said a married woman's legal residence was where her husband lived. There was a woman who legally separated from her husband and moved to La from San Francisco, was not allowed to register to vote because her legal residence was back in San Francisco. I thought, this is not good. So I did some more reporting, and I discovered that in the 18 hundreds, the suffragists started to get married. They had even fewer rights as married women than I was facing in the 1970s. So they decided to have marriage contracts in which they essentially spelled out what rights they were going to retain as married women. And if the guy wanted to marry them, he had to agree to it. I thought, I want one of these. I was already then a member of the national Organization for Women. So we found. Found the local counsel for the San Francisco chapter, woman who went on to become a federal district judge. We drew up a marriage contract, and in that, we agreed, for instance, that I would keep my name, but the children would have Mike's last name and my name as their middle name. We also agreed how we were going to be a two career couple, that we were going to alternate where we live, depending on whose career had priority. He followed me out to California, so when he wanted to go back to grad school, I requested a transfer. I told the journal he had gotten into grad school in Chicago and Detroit, so I'd go to either bureau. When I got transferred to DC, he followed me, and it all worked out fine until I got an opportunity to move and to manage and move to London. And then I essentially had to steal his turn to move. In fact, I said to him, I guess we can't go to London because it's your turn to decide where we move next. And he said, are you crazy? The irony of this marriage contract is there was only one sentence that the lawyer did not put into legalese. It was a sentence that Mike wrote, and the sentence was that all household duties shall be shared equally, but not necessarily cheerfully.

00:40:46 - Paul Sullivan
I love that. Trey. Trey. We've come to set at the end of our time together. It's been really wonderful having on the work life equation, but we end every one of these podcasts with three questions. The same three questions each, each guest gets. You ready?

00:41:02 - Joann Lublin
Sure. I'm not sure what your questions are, so I'm totally in the dark.

00:41:08 - Priya Krishnan
In your own words, can you describe what work life balance means? We heard work life sway. But what does work life balance mean for you?

00:41:18 - Joann Lublin
Work life balance means an impossible ideal. It means doing that yoga pose where you put your leg up against your knee and holding it for 24/7 good luck.

00:41:34 - Priya Krishnan

00:41:35 - Paul Sullivan
You know, between your busy career, now you were a mom, now you're a grandma, your wife, what's your go to? Way to unwind. Just when you have some Joann time, what's the thing you love to do?

00:41:48 - Joann Lublin
To just relax, get on my bike and ride like a bicycle or a motorbike? Real bicycle.

00:42:00 - Priya Krishnan
And Joann, what empowering advice would you give to the younger generation of women? Like a marriage contract is so exceptional in your time and age. But what would be advice that you give young mothers who are listening to this podcast?

00:42:16 - Joann Lublin
My advice would be to choose wisely. Choose the right life partner, choose the right workplace, vote with your feet if it turns out to be the wrong workplace. And thirdly, choose the right mentors and sponsors. Because at different times in your career, you're going to need women as mentors and sponsors. You're going to need men as mentors and sponsors. But as you advance your careers, you're going to need different men and different women as your mentors and sponsors. And at the end of the day, pay it forward, because the person who got hired yesterday, even if it was one day after you did, knows less about the workplace than you already do.

00:43:03 - Paul Sullivan
I love ending on that note of paying it forward. Joann Lublin thank you so much for being our guest today on the Work Life Equation podcast.

00:43:12 - Priya Krishnan
Thank you for your wise words.

00:43:14 - Joann Lublin
You're welcome.

00:43:16 - Commercial
What's more magical than a childhood filled with days of play, learning, exploration, and discovery? At Bright Horizons, we think of childcare as a chance to help a child experience it all. Our teachers go beyond the usual ensuring your child has an enriching, satisfying day. They take the time to listen, engage, encourage, and celebrate the wins, big and small. At Bright Horizons, we put the care in childcare. Visit brighthorizons.com to find a center near you. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Work-Life Equation. For more parenting resources, visit brighthorizons.com and be sure to follow us on social media.


Priya Krishnan, Senior Vice President, Client Relations and Growth Operations
About the Author
Chief Digital and Transformation Officer
Priya Krishnan comes to Bright Horizons after founding and running India's largest childcare business. She is the winner of many awards for her work in the space, including Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Turk, FT1000 for Asia, and Red Herring Asia.
Joann Lublin joins Priya and Paul on The Work-Life Equation podcast