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19 Dec 2019

Working for a Company Built for Profit + Purpose

It started out with a rough start to a Monday morning. I woke up with a cold and sinus pressure after a long and tiring weekend with my toddler. I had a couple of sleepless nights behind me and a busy meeting-heavy week ahead of me. I knew I was off, but I was pushing through. So when my boss took one look at me and asked me how I was doing, it was my Meghan Markle moment, and I cracked.

I’ve been a new mom for almost 2 years. We’re at that fun toddler stage where my son explores everything and I am still the sun he orbits around. It’s amazing and amazingly exhausting. So my weekends are not always the restorative time we all tend to look forward to. I’ve been with S+C for a year now and love my responsibilities and my team. Work has been my break from motherhood, a chance to stretch my brain, be social, and express my personality, which can get lost in the throes of being a mom. 

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But the balance is hard. And when my boss was able to see through my veneer, I couldn’t quite put a finger on why I was having a little breakdown in front of her. I just knew that I was off, I was exhausted, and I was sick. My boss, a mom of two herself and a business owner, offered some sage advice — perhaps what I was missing was simply time for me to get restored.  

Ding ding ding! Perhaps glaringly obvious to an outsider, the realization that I was lacking any sort of “me time” to restore was anything but obvious to me. See, if I love what I do at work and at home, then why would I need anything else? It reminded me of a Creative Mornings talk by Paloma Medina on defining your own life symmetry. She talks about how when work and life get so jumbled up, how do we balance it all out? How do we incorporate the activities and relationships in our lives with the work and responsibilities? Perhaps the answer is that life is more intertwined and fluid than we admit.

"We understand the frequency, the cycle, of that restoration activity with sleep. And I realized it is the same with some of these other things." — Paloma Medina

That Monday, at my boss’s urging, I ended up leaving early to head home to sleep. I worked from home the following Tuesday and did a half-day in the office on Wednesday. More important, I started to reflect on her advice. Despite loving my responsibilities, I generally lack time for myself. I don’t actively seek it out. Moms can make it look easy and seamless, but we have a lot going on inside. My work family sees me for more hours than my actual family does on a weekday. They are my second home. And when my work is telling me to go take a break, and genuinely wanting me to get restored, that means more to me than having free drinks in the fridge or toys in the office.

As Lead Producer, one of the concepts I have been working to define for the agency is the concept of agency health: a balance of happy clients and projects, professional and agency growth, and happy staff. What makes this concept possible at S+C is that the partners are invested in and genuinely care about their staff. They wanted to create the type of agency that they themselves would want to work for. And one of the leading principles is that they believe in the value of restorative balance.

So when someone needs to take a break and nap it off in the closet, that is okay. When someone needs to head home early to deal with the nuances of life, there is no pushback. When a staff member comes in looking down and gloomy, they ask, “Are you okay?” I’ve worked for a lot of different people at varying degrees of giving zero shits. I feel lucky to have landed at an agency that values and cares about their staff. To me, this unspoken perk is far more valuable than office happy hours, on-tap-whatever, or office games.

As for me, I carved out a Saturday morning to start getting restored and plan on making more restorative “intertwining” moments happen throughout my week. The best part? Knowing I’m not sacrificing anything at work or at home in order to have this.

Author’s note: The owners of S+C didn’t know I was writing this before I handed it in. Swear.

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