Daymond John sat in a cushioned arm chair on stage in front of several thousand people – nothing new for this star of Shark Tank and creator of the multi-billion-dollar brand, FUBU. Investor, mentor, winner, John is known for his directness on Shark Tank and his strategy in business. John, however, was not talking about what it takes to win as an entrepreneur, he was focused on work-life balance and espousing the necessity of the executive physical – a multi-day full health discovery tailored for business owners and c-suite executives.
John himself found stage II cancer during his executive physical and he appears determined to have that conversation with anyone who will listen.
Work-life balance is not a new discussion; we are talking about it and even demanding it. According to this study by Deloitte, as an example, 16.8% of millennials are demanding work-life balance in their career with one of the main reasons being that they are always ‘on.’ I have one millennial daughter and another on the cusp; both girls have their mobile devices glued to them. Because this is all they know, they feel a tremendous pull to be constantly plugged in and in the work environment this equates to ready availability regardless of the hour.
For Gen X, my generation, we were the first ones to embrace mobile technology as a primary means of communication. As a generation, we generally have the highest expenditures with children at home and potentially aging, unwell parents. To meet the demands of our lives, we are often stressed out and exhausted. Are we so different than millennials? Not really.
According to this study, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers all answered approximately the same when asked, what other than a raise was the top consideration for your career? All groups responded that greater work-life balance was number one. Approximately 50% of respondents said that they would rather have more time off and work from home as priorities.
A simple Google search on the topic of ‘work-life balance’ produces 28 million references. We are talking about it, we are ranting about it, and in some cases demanding it and yet if anything is truly going to change, we are going to have to take action on it. Many employees are requesting greater accommodations however what about the entrepreneurs who own those businesses? Can there really be work-life balance if you are shouldering cash flow, supply chain, stock evaluation, human resources, and a myriad of other issues that flood your inbox non-stop?
As entrepreneurs, however, regardless of age, we live in a fast-paced, deal hungry, network necessity, world where it is very common to work seven days per week. For some of us, it is because the ideas never stop, and the excitement is ever present. For others, it is the sense of experienced if they do not appear available. Regardless, as John so deftly pointed out – there is more to life than money and ignoring your health is a surefire way to make it to one promised land but definitely not the other.
I was on a flight once, from New York to Phoenix, and started a discussion with a man who shared that he was once ambivalent about work-life balance. He worked seven days per week even sending his wife, and children, to their cottage on weekends without him so he could work peacefully. He was often on the road for business deals and ignored his health completely living on diet soda, and whatever was on the menu for business lunches and dinners. That was all well and good until, after feeling unwell for months and thinking it was a flu, his doctor pronounced him with stage IV cancer and gave him a death sentence.
This man said, ‘Susan, I gave myself stage IV cancer. I was so out of balance and my priorities were messed up.’ He made bold decisions to work less, spend more quality time with his family, and take better care of his health. The result – he survived.
Work-life balance has become a trendy issue with some saying that it doesn’t exist while others say that it does. In my professional opinion, work-life balance exists. Balance happens in moments and ideally, we want to capture more of those moments. Furthermore, if we do not find balance, it is going to necessitate itself on us – something I have garnered from personal experience with first MS and then chromic Lyme.
Daymond John is in this camp too. He spoke of how easy it is to ignore fatigue, a lowered immune system, and a host of other symptoms as you chase one deal after another and work to increase your profit margins. He counsels, however, that if you ignore all else, you will find yourself grossly out of balance and this can be a catalyst for illness.
As someone who worked in health for years, I could not strongly agree more. I am happy that entrepreneurs such as Mr. John are openly discussing work-life balance in forums that have traditionally not favored anything other than espousing ways to make more money. As an entrepreneur, mother of five, and a woman who has been preaching work-life balance for years, I applaud Daymond John, his vulnerability, and his message.
At the end of the day, we have to start taking action. Instead of simply voicing our displeasure with an environment, take personal responsibility and start with a solid medical work-up. If you are really out of balance, your hormones, and other markers are going to indicate whether or not you are on a slippery slope. Ignoring symptoms such as exhaustion, insomnia, weight gain, irritability, and more, in favor of the next dollar, will ultimately catch up with you.
Booking a complete physical is an exceptional way to take action. From personal experience, I recommend seeing an integrative physician who will run a complete blood workup including hormones. Our bodies are the ultimate litmus test and sending us messages every single day. You may feel that taking the time to get testing done may put you further behind however nothing will take you off course more than getting ill. For Mr. John, it was a wake-up call. Don’t let yours be cancer, or something else.
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by Daymond John