You Are Not Your Job

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo, Operations & Content Manager at Tighten, returns to the show this week to talk about why you are not your job, the difference between your work and your job, and a lot more.


Dave Hicking: Welcome to Twenty Percent Time, a podcast that takes you behind the scenes of Tighten, a web consultancy based out of Chicago, but entirely remote. Now spread out, Marje, just all over the place. I'm saying hi to Marje even though I haven't introduced her yet. We're going to get there in a second. Tighten specializes in Laravel, a PHP framework, but we're often pairing that with any number Javascript frameworks and libraries. I'm your host, Dave Hicking. And this week, as I teased about 30 seconds before, we're joined by Marje, operations and content manager here at Tighten. Hi, Marje. How are you?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Hey, Dave. Doing well. Thanks for having me today.

Dave Hicking: Yeah, I'm happy to have you back again. You're setting records on this show. You're...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I have a lot to talk about. There's a lot that goes into having a good corporate team culture. And I'm like, "Yes, these are things that matter, pay attention folks." So I'm happy to chat about it.

Dave Hicking: Marje, for folks who have not met you in person at a Laracon or have not interacted with you online, or have not heard you on one of our previous podcasts, can you say a little bit about yourself?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Absolutely. As you mentioned, I'm the operations and content manager here at Tighten. Over time, I've... Well, I've been here about five years and over time, my role has shifted from business operations and day to day how we stay in business and pay bills and get paid to people operations. We've gone from 14 to about 30 in the time that I've been here. And so my focus has shifted somewhat from the day to day business doings to the day to day culture and team happiness side of operations. And with that, it's also helping to shape culture and make sure that the remote workplace that we have is welcoming, psychologically safe and helps people stay engaged and able to do and bring their best selves to work.

Dave Hicking: Excellent. Excellent. I need to like a Marje for like my personal life. Not just my work life.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I know.

Dave Hicking: Is there like a Marje as a service, or?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: They're very handy. Wouldn't that be nice? I would like to hire that for myself.

Dave Hicking: You could hire yourself for yourself.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I could, I'd hire myself as a service. Right, that would be great. What do I need in my life to be happy and content with what I've got? Yeah. It's ongoing, ongoing work.

Dave Hicking: Marje, you're here this week because you have this topic in mind. I think it's a great topic. I think it's very relevant to what we do at Tighten. I think it's hopefully relevant to a lot of folks here and it is five words, but it's so important. And those five words are...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: You are not your job. Yes.

Dave Hicking: Okay. So I want to talk about what that means. Why people sometimes might struggle with this. How remote work plays into all this. But let's, so let's, let's get right into it. So phrases like you are not your job or work life balance, whatever that's supposed to mean. These are all things that sound great. And I'm sure everyone who's listening to this right now is nodding along. They're like, " Yes, yes, I want this." But most of us probably have had times where we felt like we couldn't do that. Or maybe that was, "I'm trying to get there" or "That's like a luxury and I'm not there yet" or "It's really busy right now at work, QI can't get there right now." So let's, before we get to all that, let's get some definitions out of the way. Marje, what does, when you say, "You are not your job," what do you mean?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: So when I hear the phrase, "You are not your job." A job is something that people pay you for. No one pays you to be yourself. So you cannot be your job because no one is paying you to be yourself. The other piece of that is, a job has this connotation of a paid position for a certain task or type of work. So again, no one pays you to be yourself and there is a task or work involved in your job. So when I say you are not your job, I literally mean that. You cannot be your job because you are a person and no one pays you to be a person. And then the other side of that is, it's this idea of when someone asks you, "What do you do?" This is a wider culture thing. What do you do? So Dave, if someone were to ask you, "What do you do?" Your inclination would be to say what?

Dave Hicking: It's complicated. No, I have, what do I do? Well, first...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It is. It is complicated.

Dave Hicking: First, I have to hope that they know... I think most people at this point know, what a... Mobile apps help because almost everybody that I interact with has at least iPhone, or maybe even an... My grandparents, my 80 year old grandparents at least have an iPad or something, right? They understand that. Web apps gets a little more complicated because people think like a website and I'm like, "Sure, but more," I have to hope that they get that. But then on top of that, it's like, "Well, I work for an agency." And they're like, and you see the eyes glaze over. It's like, we make web apps and mobile apps for other companies and they go, "Okay, understand." And then I try to describe what head of client services means. And you know, I think some people look at me and they, they're probably thinking to themselves, so they're like, they're probably trying to figure out which character from Mad Men am I? They're trying to place me. They think agency, they're trying to place me in that hierarchy or something. Yeah. I don't know. I do a very poor job at explaining what I do, Marje.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Right. And this is one of the things that's really interesting because if someone asks me what I do, the first thing I tell them is I breathe and I'm human. Because those are things that I just do. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to describe it. And one of the things that I think is important in the world is to just let people be human, to not have their worth be tied to what they produce. Because you are valuable, because you exist. So, but our culture is very much, what do you do is tied to what work do you do? What do you produce? What kind of hierarchy can I fit you into? And I have found this to be very true as well. I've been a remote worker for going on seven years. And when I try to explain to someone it's much the same struggle that you have. Or, I have no idea what that is. And I think you just made up a bunch of words. So, if I just completely flip that question and remove the context of what do I do? I breathe and I'm human. Okay, cool. That's common ground. That's a place to start a conversation from. And it takes away some of that hierarchical power structures that come when someone asks, "What do you do?" Like, how can I place you in terms of your worth? I'm like, "We have equal worth, we have equal value. we are both human." And so that's part of this conversation too. It is work life balance, but it's also the belief that your work should support a good life. Not your work should be your life. So that's why I'm really excited to be here today, actually. So that, hopefully people can start thinking about this in ways that are healthy. So that when you talk about work life balance, you understand that work is not your whole life and that it's not the whole pie. It's just a piece of the pie. And it's a foundation of the pie maybe, but it's not the entire pie. So that's, those are some definitions that I've got. And some of the things in mind, like as we have this conversation people are like, "What kind of radical liberal is this lady?" And it's really not that radical or liberal to believe in the value of humans.

Dave Hicking: But Marje, aside from asking people about the weather, how else am I supposed to make small talk? I'm kidding. I know there are lots of ways.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: You, you have a... I know. Dave, have you seen your dog? Have you seen your cat? So many things. Yeah. And music.

Dave Hicking: An music.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah.

Dave Hicking: Right.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: All kinds. And music.

Dave Hicking: But then I have to reveal something about myself to somebody else. I can't just give off the...

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Right. Right. You do. This is also part of having a life.

Dave Hicking: Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I know.

Dave Hicking: I know.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I know. Therapy. Therapy with me.

Dave Hicking: Yeah. This is going to turn into a therapy session here. Marje, you, so you used the term work life.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It might.

Dave Hicking: You talked a little bit about work life balance. People have been talking about that for, feels like forever now. What does work life balance mean to you?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Work life balance, particularly in a remote culture. This is one that's very difficult. And I know you struggle with this too. It's when you leave work, you do other things. When your work is your home, how do you make a distinction? How do you maintain a balance? And I am guilty of this, and I'm going to throw you under the bus too. I know we've both woken up at two in the morning and be like, "Oh no, I need to make this note because this thing needs to be done. And I'm thinking about it right now, so I'm just going to write it down and I'm going to do this really quick." Which is not great work life balance, but has a lot of the flexibility that people appreciate about remote work. So when I'm talking about remote work and work life balance, what it really comes down to is, can I have a sustainable quality of life? Can I do the things that take care of me as a whole person, as well as take care of the things that I need to do for my paid employment? And do I have good boundaries around what that looks like? So for me, what I tried to do, not perfectly. I wish. I wish I was perfect, but that's a whole nother therapy session. What I try to do is have a very distinct, this is where I work, and when I am here, I am working. When I step away, I am not working. And I do my best to maintain that boundary. If I need to come back to something, I try to make sure that I'm not neglecting my family, my health, my pets, some of the other things that are important to me in having a good life. And that answer is going to be different for everyone. But the big distinction in work life balance is making sure that everything is sustainable. If you put too much into work, then you're going to drop the ball on home. Or if you put too much into home, you're not going to be contributing your best efforts for paid employment. One of the, and this feels funny, this is a call out to my grandpa who's no longer here. But fair wages for fair work. Do you feel like the work that you are doing is fair to your employer based on the time and the energy and the brain that you're bringing to it, or are you giving all of your best everything to other places? You have to look at, am I being fair to my employer? Am I being fair to myself? Am I being fair to the other people or humans or pets who depend on me? And that's going to be an individual answer, and the balance is going to look different for everyone. But you'll know that it's out of balance if you try to do something that's not work and it feels weird. Like, if you've ever had an injury, say you broke your leg, and then your muscle atrophies. Trying to use that leg is going to feel really weird and really awkward. So one of the things that, this sounds very strange, really long, drawn out metaphor. But it comes down to, if you are out of balance in work and life, if you've put too much into work, when you try to have a life, you're going to feel super awkward in that aspect of life, because it's not practiced. Because your muscles for life are not strong and you don't feel confident. But if you're at work, you're like, "Yeah, I'm getting all this feedback. And everything's great. And this is super easy for me," because you're over-practiced. And so the goal is to have everything feel just the right amount of awkward. Where you're never quite caught up anywhere, but that means it's a sustainable thing. There's always something new to come back to and try. So, yeah. That's a very long answer to what is work life balance, but it's basically being okay with being slightly awkward. But always knowing there is more to be done and feeling okay with that.

Dave Hicking: Do you think there's something about just the nature of work in general and that leads people into struggling with this balance? Is it our particular, you could say American, you could say Western, you could say modern culture. Is it the particular kind of industry we're in?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I feel like it is a product of capitalist society. It is a product of Protestant culture, where work makes you good. Where we have this idea that more money means more power, means you're a better human. And so that's also one of the reasons that it's difficult to step away from work because hustle culture is a thing. The more you're working, the more people are like, "Yeah, work is good for you." And it's this reinforcing circle of, I guess people would call it a virtuous circle. But it's not necessarily virtuous, because if all you do is work, how do people know you as a person? They know you for what you produce, not for who you are. So in some ways, work can be a protective mask. I do this thing and therefore I have value. And it's very easy to make that direct comparison of I've produced a thing and therefore I'm valuable. So we also get a lot of our sense of personal worth based on personal achievement, based on successes and things that we've done at work that are visible. And it's a lot harder as a person to say, I am worthy as a person and a human, even if I haven't produced a visible thing or earned a specific amount of money in a particular year. So there's some underlying social structures that support workaholism and support work as this noble worthy thing. And it can be, don't get me wrong. There are certain work items that I would say, "Yes, this is valuable noble and worthy." Teachers, teachers work a lot and are not always recognized in terms of money for it. Some work is inherently worthy. But jobs, jobs and work are not the same. So that's another thing to keep in mind. Taking care of your family is work. No one pays you for it. Taking care of yourself is work. No one pays you for it. But it is still work that is worthy and needs doing. So being able to identify, this is all of the work of my life, is not the same thing as this is my job. So there's a distinction to be made between, here is all of the work I'm responsible for, here is the work that gets recognized in terms of accolades, success, financial compensation, higher and bigger levels and titles, and more access to power and capital and wealth. There's a lot of ways to measure success. And I think our culture, in particular, does a very big disservice by putting so much emphasis on your job is your success, when there's so much more work involved in life and all of that work has value.

Dave Hicking: Marje is staring directly into my soul right now. This is intense. So let me ask you this Marje, because here's something I know that is hard for me. I assume might be, may be hard for others as well. Which is that, so right now there's, as we record this, there's all sorts of news articles where people are talking about some employers are pushing for a return back to the office, right? And Tighten has been remote forever. And one thing that we know is, that it's not just about going into the office, or lack thereof. It's not just not having a commute. But it's, if you work at a certain kind of place, like I think Tighten tries to be, it's the flexibility, right? We aren't just totally asynchronous where you can set your hours on a day by day schedule. Some days you're in at midnight, some days you're in at 5:00 PM. We don't work like that, but we do flex around people's lives. So how do you, how do we balance that with the blurring that happens when you fit in work around life or life around work? When it stops being just from nine to five I'm, my brain is on work time. And then I'm not on work time. Because what if it's like, I'll give you an example. This morning, right? I did a little bit of work, then I had to take my car into the shop and then I did a little more work. And then I got my car back from the shop. And the idea that I'm not thinking about work when I'm off of work gets hard. How does that work, Marje? Not that you're supposed to have all the answers, but what do you think?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: What I think? So in my own practice, this is a thing that I struggle with. And it's a reason I have three notebooks with me at all the time. Because sometimes I can't, I'm, it's like, "Well, I don't have wifi, so I'm just going to write this note." It is doing your best to manage and balance the needs of your being human with the needs of work. And that flexibility is wonderful as people. The fact that I don't have to commute for two hours every day anymore, that gives me back two hours of time that I can spend with my children or walking my dog or doing my laundry. And it's also, all the context switching can be very difficult. Turning my brain off from, "Okay, I've got to think about this particular plan for the next onsite or we're working on this swag thing for my team." Turning that off and trying to make soup for dinner, it's like, "Wait a second, I'm completely distracted." And so it really is about putting practices into place so that you can transition smoothly. And the thing that's funny is, it sounds weird to say this, but having consistent rituals as you transition from being at work to being at home. As you transition from, here is my appointment time for going to the dentist, and now I have to come back to my desk and figure out, okay, what does this look like? And so setting up some consistent rituals that help your brain transition from one activity into the next activity, and have a little bit of grace and wiggle room for those things, for me that works really well. Because it tells, it gives a very strong signal to my brain. Okay, you're switching from work mode to mom mode. Or you're switching from mom mode to I'm going to take care of myself and I'm going to exercise. Which is, that switch is actually harder for me, switching from I'm a mom to...

Dave Hicking: Sure.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Right now, this 30 minutes is just mine and I'm going to get on the exercise bike, and I'm going to be sweaty and nobody's going to interrupt me because I already told them not to. That transition, giving myself permission to have time for just taking care of my own humanness, is actually a harder transition for me. Because at work I take care of people. In my life I take care of people. And I very often forget that I need to take, I'm one of the people I need to take care of. And so I've been working on that for myself, is establishing some rituals and habits that remind me I have permission to take care of my own needs, as well as these other things that I'm responsible for. So it doesn't really answer your question, but I think as remote workers, one of the things that we need to do and establish are those same kind of rituals. Like when you're going to an office, your ritual is, I wake up in the morning, I take my shower, I prep my lunch, I get in the car and I drive to work. And then I'm at the office and I'm doing work. What is something comparable that signals to your body and brain and mind and self, here's my ritual and now I'm at work. And I'm done for the day, so what does the undoing of work look like? And it's not necessarily that undoing, it's just the leaving it behind. So setting those patterns up for yourself as a remote employee is just as important, but it's less structured because we don't have those same tropes. We don't have those same cultural stories yet for remote employment that have been baked into American work culture since the industrial revolution. What does it look like if you stay home and work? So we have to make some of those for ourselves.

Dave Hicking: You imagining some sort of like Slack connected big time clock. You come in and hold a big lever in your office. No, I'm just kidding.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: You just hit your button and it says in for you.

Dave Hicking: Yeah. In for the day. Yeah. Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yeah. Yeah.

Dave Hicking: So Marje, for folks who might be struggling with trying to maybe have separate identity, separate out their work identity from their actual, I am a person, I'm multifaceted. For folks who maybe aren't there yet. There's all sorts of ways that you can think about this. I think one thing that happens is that, even if you, let's say you are really trying, is that it's, even if you make progress due to a variety of reasons, some of which you have touched on. Cultural reasons, just life. It's easy to slip back into old habits. And I feel like so much of what maybe you and I specifically have talked about on the show, but I think just in general what we talk about on the show, is that this is not a project, but a practice.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yep.

Dave Hicking: So let's get, if it's okay with you, let's get super practical here for a second. Do you have any suggestions for folks? So you talked a little bit about having rituals and that might be one, number one on this list. But do you have any other suggestions for folks who are struggling to make this an ongoing practice?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: The first thing that I suggest, if this is a thing you're just realizing, this is seriously a problem for me. The first thing to practice is using your PTO. like straight up, use your PTO. And I know there are some folks who listen, who are in companies that have an unlimited PTO allowance, and they're like, I'm afraid to use it because I'll come back and I'll be super far behind. Take a week off. Just take the week off. Just give yourself enough advance, notice that you can plan for it and tell your team. Whatever feels like a reasonable amount of lead time. Take some time off. Practice not being at work. That's the first thing after rituals. The second thing, I guess, no, this would be third thing at this point. When you were on PTO, imagine what it would look like if you won two million dollars or you had enough money that you didn't have to have a job. What work would you choose for yourself? What does that work look like? And this is work in terms of how would you care for yourself? How would you care for your home? How would you care for the people who you love? Can you even identify the people you love? Like that's a whole nother big question.

Dave Hicking: That's another podcast Marje.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It really is. But recognizing who do you spend time and energy and attention on? And how would that change if your work was taking care of them as part of the work that you recognize as important to being your whole multifaceted itself? It's just doing some of those, maybe kind of scary, mental exercises to practice. What does work look like if it is not paid work? All of that work of your life is work that you want to keep in balance, but you need to count all of it. Not just the stuff you get money for. Not just the stuff that you get accolades for. Not just the stuff that people recognize you as being awesome and fantastic for. And give you calls at 3:00 PM saying, "Hey, I want to do business with you." The work of a life is more than just the work of getting paid. And being able to recognize this is all of the work that I do in my whole entire life. These are all of the things that I have responsibilities to and for. How do I account for that? So, that's another... I will admit this is something that I have been working on for probably the past two years, having a true accounting to myself of what is the work of my life? And that feels like a giant question because it is a giant question.

Dave Hicking: It's a scary question.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Your life is very long... It's a very big question.

Dave Hicking: It's terrifying Marje.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Your life is really long. It's not actually.

Dave Hicking: Oh, it's terrifying.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Here's a reframing for you.

Dave Hicking: Okay.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: It's terrifying to consider the work of your life, but also what a gift. What a gift that you can choose the work you want your life to have. The work you want to have as part of your life. We have agency and control over the work we choose. That's kind of amazing. We get to decide what work we want to do. It's mind boggling to me. And, that work will change over time. For me, that's exciting. The fact that the work of my life is not going to be the same work every single day. Oh thank heavens. Because that would drive me bonkers. Ask me how I know, I've had jobs where I do the same thing every single day. And I'm like, "I'm going to go nuts, because this is so boring and repetitive." But over the course of your life, if you can identify, here is the work that I am choosing here is the work that I am being paid for, and you can identify and name those things and balance those things. That's a really good life. That is a life that you've chosen for yourself instead of a life that other people choose for you. So there's a lot of power in that, I think.

Dave Hicking: I have a question about the PTO thing. I'm curious, as somebody at Tighten who has a really good bird's eye view of the whole PTO situation. It's not uncommon, I think maybe at Tighten, but certainly at lots of places, where folks wind up with this panic where they're like, "Oh my God, I've got eight days of PTO left. I haven't used nearly enough. And it runs out on X date." Some folks choose to pepper their PTO days over the course of X number of times, right? I'm going to take, I'm going to have four day weeks for the next two months. Some folks are like, I'm getting a whole week or two off. Do you have a, do you think, do you have an opinion about, do you think people should go one way or the other, or does it really depend on the person?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I will say it really depends on the person and what they need. My own inclination is to tell people, when they are in that situation, take a week off.

Dave Hicking: Yeah. Take the time.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Because it is far more restful to know that you have, say six days in a row of I can sleep as long as I want. I can binge watch three of my favorite shows. Having that big block of time to fully separate from work, gives you a big block of time to fully recharge and refresh and restore yourself. So that is, I mean my own inclination, if you have that big chunk of time, take that big chunk of time. And for people who are hesitant about taking that time off I'm like, hey your employer, thanks you for that donation. Because PTO is often required to be paid out. And in particular, Tighten's policy is use it or lose it, because we want people to take chunks of time. Reset their brains. Remember that they're human and then come back and be excited about coming back. PTO is one of the things that you should be gone long enough that you're happy to come back to work and do your job again. That's what I think. And if you can't, if there's not enough PTO in the world for you to be able to be excited about coming back to work and your colleagues, that might also be a smell that perhaps it's time to consider a job change. Like if you are not excited about coming back to your job and your colleagues, there's some other things to investigate there.

Dave Hicking: So far we've been talking mostly about the worker. From the, this whole concept from the perspective of the worker. But if you're an employer or maybe even just a manager, I think there's a role to be, to play here as well. Are there things that bosses or managers or whatnot should be on the lookout for, with regards to... Maybe, you could say, you could take this a couple ways. Maybe identifying, are mine, does this employee of mine, are they identifying with their job too much? Or maybe perhaps a better way to put this, have they set up the structure of their work to encourage that kind of, oh my goodness, I have, my job is my life and that's how all their employees are. Is there a role for employers and managers?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I would say yes. This is one area where work culture... I'm going to back up a little bit. Tighten's culture is designed so that everyone who is part of Tighten can influence our culture. And hopefully that's in positive ways, but it's also very true that if you were a workaholic, it's really easy for the people on your team to also start working more. And so the role, I think, for managers and leaders is to check themselves first. What am I modeling to my team? Am I showing up at 10:00 PM on a Saturday and suddenly sending a whole bunch of Slack messages about, "Hey, hey, can you check on this, and...?" Because that sets an expectation to the team. It's like, "Oh gosh, my manager's asking me this question on a Saturday." I'm like, I never want to see that in our team. Sometimes that happens. But usually that 10:00 PM Saturday thing is, "Hey, you got to go see this movie." The latest Marvel Universe thing or whatever it was. It's more often something social and it's not a work thing, which I'm okay with. But the role for managers and leaders in a company is to set that example of when I am not at work, I am not working. And if you are working and I don't think you should be because you've already put in your 40 hours of work, I'm going to tell you that gently, "Hey, our preference is, put in your time, put in a good 40 hours and then it can wait until you're back next week." And I will admit, I look at people's time sheets. I'm like, "Hey, you're consistently 40 plus hours every week. Maybe consider what are things we can take off your plate." And I would hope that all managers are doing that. Taking a look and seeing who's putting in too much time, or who's putting in more time than expected. For Tighten's culture, the care is, we want you to make sure, or we want to make sure that your work is not taking over your life. Because work supports a good life, it is not your life. I do know that is not always common. There are certain industries where the expectation is a work week is 60 hours. And if you're not working 60 hours, you're not working enough. And I don't think that's healthy, which is one of the reasons also why I'm at Tighten and not in big corporate America, where 60 hours is just what's expected. And not even including a commute or time for doctor's appointments. That's not balance. And so the role I think, for managers and leaders, is really to model the expectations and to check yourself and make sure that you are not modeling work as, well I shouldn't say work. Work can be good. But not modeling the idea that working a lot is better than just working enough.

Dave Hicking: So I'm sure you've seen all the articles. You've heard the phrase, "the great resignation" that's happening right now. Which, I don't know, I think it's more like... Tighten is in the middle of the hiring process right now. And I think it's, maybe it's more accurate to say, it's more like the great turnover, right? A lot of people have taken the time over the past couple years and the altered, we'll say, circumstances that most of us have found ourselves in and reevaluated. And I think a lot of people are just looking for what they think are better opportunities. So if someone's listening to this and they might have their eye on a better opportunity or might be thinking about it, do you think there are any key or important indicators that the company you might be applying for a position with, might have, might be kind of good or bad with regards to this kind of culture that might encourage you, or alternatively discourage you, to not be your job?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I think one of the questions to ask a hiring manager or the person doing the interview would really be, how often do people use all their PTO? Like just ask them, did you use all your PTO?

Dave Hicking: Yeah.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Because that is, in my experience, one of the first signals of what does this company expect and do people feel comfortable actually using all of their PTO? It's a pretty good way to get a sense for what is the culture. Because, if you can take all of your PTO that says to me, that is a company that's paying attention, that leaves space for people to be away and come back. And there's enough capacity to absorb that. The second question that I would ask is, what policies do you have in place for flexibility, for flexing a schedule? Like those, the combination of those two things is usually enough for me to identify a company that has the flexibility I would want to manage a life that feels good to me and helps me to feel good about doing good work for this company. Because it is a two-way street. And then the other thing that I find interesting is people call it the great resignation, but I would agree with you that it's really more the great turnover. People are using the ability to work anywhere as a way to say, I don't want to work for places that don't support a healthy work life balance. I don't want to work somewhere that does not support its workers. And that's a huge shift. It's going to be a very interesting decade I think, coming up as we see these changing demographics, as the boomer generation retires and generally does truly resign. Because they're like, "Nope, there's nothing here that I want to keep doing. It's not worth the rest of my retirement to stay in a place that isn't serving me anymore." And then this younger generation that does not have quite enough people to make up the numbers of people retiring and resigning. So it's going to be a lot of significant shifts, I think. And the companies that do this well, will take care of their people and help them to have good lives, will see success.

Dave Hicking: Marje, this has been wonderful. That is actually the end of my questions. But I definitely want to make sure that we got everything said that you had in mind. Is there any, are there any questions you wished I had asked you or anything else on your mind that you want to talk about today?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: I think what I just want to leave listeners with is a question for themselves to answer. What does your work look like? Just think about that. What does your work look like? Not your job, but your work. And it's a very big question and it doesn't have to be scary. But if you want to have work that fulfills you and a job that engages you, meaning people are paying you to do things that you like and you're excited to come back from PTO, it really will be of value if you know what all of the work of your life is. Knowing that it will change. Knowing that it will be different in five years, as your experience and both needs of your life and your family changes. But if you can identify that, here is the work of my life. Even if it's just big buckets, take some time and do that. That is valuable. It's important. And it determines for you, and shows you, here's your value, not just as a paid employee. But the work of your life has value to yourself and to the people around you. So yeah, mostly just, I want people to know you are more than your job.

Dave Hicking: Marje, thank you so much. This has been fantastic. If folks want to connect with you online or want to find you somewhere, where should they go?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: They can find me on Twitter @minn_finn.

Dave Hicking: M I N N underscore F I N N. Correct?

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yes. That is correct.

Dave Hicking: Want to make, I almost felt like I put an extra N in there, but I think I got it. Minn underscore Finn.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Yep. Yep.

Dave Hicking: Thank you so much, Marje. Really appreciate it. It was great talking to you today.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo: Thanks for having me, Dave. Great chatting.

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