Conversation with Susie Orman Schnall on Work/Life Balance: The Balance Project

ZP0PO6mz-2Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

The challenge of work/life balance continues confound. Employees insist they want it. Many companies – through flex schedules, job shares, training and more – try to offer it. And yet, so many of us – men and women – feel like we’re just not doing it right.

To make it worse, we then combine that frustration with the ideal that we can – or at least should – have it all. We think we see the alleged examples parading in front of us every day – the so-called superstars who hold down high-powered jobs, work out constantly, volunteer incessantly, love their spouses and kids, and surely in their free time, compose music like Mozart, paint like Monet and cook like Julia Child. You know who they are. We come to believe that to reach that next level – perhaps even to have it all – we only need to lean in a bit harder.

516F5+G14JL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_So why doesn’t it happen? Why aren’t we all walking around feeling like we have it all?

Award-winning writer Susie Orman Schnall wanted to find out. So she did the obvious thing: She asked. In a series of interviews with powerful, accomplished, seemingly have-it-all women, she asked their secrets to having it all. And the answers – what these women acknowledged – just might surprise you.

The interview series is called, quite appropriately, The Balance Project, which you can find at And now it’s transformed as well into Schnall’s second novel, an engaging, funny and often uncomfortably accurate read called “The Balance Project: A Novel.”


Working Capital Conversations: The CEO Reputation Premium with Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick

88d64c4d-6a1d-4da9-932e-ef5d6ee81926Working Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

How should a CEO behave? Bold? Maybe. Decisive? Probably. But how about humble? Attentive? Accessible?

CEO behavior – or, more accurately, reputation – arguably has never been more important than it is today. With growing social networks and changing social expectations, a CEO’s reputation is trickier to maintain and more central to a company’s bottom line than ever. And we’re only just at the beginning of this trend.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 4.31.38 PMThese are just some of the findings of a new and insightful report titled: “The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era.” But if the reality that CEO reputation matters is clear, the question remains: How do you do it? At a time when every word, every misstep, every wrong tweet becomes front page news, how does a leader walk the balance of being out there – but not too much and only in the right ways?

To find out, we asked the author.

Leslie Gaines-Ross is Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick, the leading global public relations agency, and co-author of the CEO Reputation Premium report. Gaines-Ross is one of the world’s most widely recognized experts on reputation—how they’re built, enhanced and protected. She is the author of a couple of books on CEO reputation, she speaks frequently and globally on the topic; and she finds herself on several Most Influential People and Top Thought leaders lists.

Retro Report’s Barbara Dury: “McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic”

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 4.19.57 PMFew stories were more disturbing. Systematic child molestation in our nation’s preschools.

It started, of course, with the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, CA in the early 80s. The allegations were offensive and shocking. Child abuse. Even Satanism. And as the allegations grew, more stories from more preschools across the nation. We had, it seemed, an epidemic.

But after years of trials and front page news, nothing. No convictions –  lives ruined – both for the people who ran the McMartin preschool and for many of the children who were allegedly abused.

What have we learned from the McMartin Preschool case? Could therapists, investigators, journalists – even we the pubic – get something so wrong again?

Barbara Dury is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic.”

Steve Kornacki: MSNBC Host

New Jersey Bridgegate is not slowing down. Questions around how and why several George Washington Bridge access lanes were shut last September – questions around what Governor Chris Christie knew and when he knew it – are not only growing, but now they’ve gone viral.

Thanks to Jimmy Fallon, Bruce Springsteen and a devastating “Born to Run” update, the scandal has jumped from political fiasco to pop culture touchstone. And like those cars in Fort Lee, the issues pile up: Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Why was this done? And why did no one have the brains or courage to stop it?

If you want answers, few people have covered this story more closely – and few know more about New Jersey politics – than Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Author: “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism”

A massive and growing gap between rich and poor. A middle class squeeze. Technological shifts driving changes in how people live their lives everyday. Big corporations getting bigger, and the influence – and confluence – of money and politics growing stronger.

At the same time, a progressive US president takes office, willing to take on big business and big money – promising a new vision that will rewrite the way the government and the people interact.

If this sounds familiar, then wait, because you haven’t heard the whole story. For this story, the time was the beginning of the 20th Century. The President was Teddy Roosevelt. And the Industrial Revolution – with its monopolies and unsafe working conditions and vast collections of wealth – met a President willing to take it on.

How did he do it? How did he try to extend his success with a hand-picked successor William Howard Taft? And what, if any lessons, can we take today from events that occurred then?

Doris Kearns Goodwin almost literally needs no introduction. She is the Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author. Her new book is: “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.”

Listen here at Political Wire.

Retro Report’s Karen Sughrue: “Crime and Punishment: Three Strikes and You’re Out”

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 9.54.50 PMIt used to be simply a baseball a baseball term – Three strikes and your out. But in the early 90s, the phrase took on new meaning.

A seeming rise in violent and random crime – mixed with growing hard drug use – created a potent cocktail. Following some particularly horrific murders in California, the voting public had enough. “Three Strikes and You’re Out” became law.

Over the decade, the them spread to other states – and earned the backing of then-President Bill Clinton.

But how has Three Strikes worked? Did it in fact reduce crime? Or was this an understandable, but off-target result of a public that was simply too disgusted to give any of these criminals another at bat?

Karen Sughrue is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines faded. Their video “Crime and Punishment: Three Strikes and You’re Out.”

Retro Report’s Bonnie Bertram: “Liebeck v. McDonald’s: The Big Burn”

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 12.50.38 PMIt was the poster child for a legal system gone haywire. In 1994, an Albuquerque, NM jury gave $2.9 million dollars to a local grandmother who spilled McDonald’s coffee in her lap.

Within days, the story went global: New York. Germany. France. And then, Capitol Hill, where it became a political centerpiece for Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and the Common Sense Legal Reform Act.

But as this story grew, did it become more fiction than fact? What if this cause célèbre of a case got that way, because in the oversimplification of storytelling and lawmaking, people didn’t understand what really happened?

Bonnie Bertram is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important news events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “Liebeck v. McDonald’s: The Big Burn.”

Corey Mead: “War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict”

From drones to Tomahawk missiles to Navy SEALs, it’s no exaggeration to say that the U.S. military has a range of incredibly effective weapons at its disposal. But it’s at most only a minor exaggeration to suggest that the military’s most effective weapon might not be found in an arms depot, but in fact might be down the hall in your teenager’s bedroom. I’m talking about video games.

From single shooter games to specially-customized, near-real-life military scenarios, video games have become an incredibly important tool in how we recruit, train and even heal U.S. soldiers – important to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

How did video games take on such an outsized role? How, exactly, do they make us safer?

Corey Mead is an Asst. Professor of English at Baruch College. He’s also the author of the new book “War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict.”

Retro Report’s Olsen & Michels: “Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man”

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.40.09 PMWe hear it nearly every time news breaks. The Boston Bombing. Newtown, CT. Even the recent Navy Yard Shootings. Speculation on who did it. Speculation that often is spectacularly wrong.

But perhaps no whodunit speculation was more wrong that what occurred in 1996. The Atlanta Olympics, Centennial Olympic Park. A bomb goes off. One killed; more than 100 injured. But quickly – to nearly everyone’s relief – the FBI had a person of interest. Richard Jewell.

His face and name were everywhere. The media followed him from home to work and back again. According to widespread media reports, Jewell fit the profile of a potential terrorist. Many felt sure we had our man. Of course, it turned out Richard Jewell was missing one key quality: He wasn’t a terrorist. He didn’t commit the crime.

How did the media – and law enforcement – get the story so wrong? And when getting it wrong often means destroying an innocent reputation, why does it keep happening?

JP Olsen and Scott Michels are producers at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines faded. Their new video is “Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man.”

Simon Kuper, Financial Times

I’m happy to report that for the first time in months, the biggest monarchy news of the week had nothing to do with Princess Kate’s baby bump! It came from the Netherlands, where Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne, making room for her 46-year-old son, King Willem-Alexander. For us Americans who struggle to understand the British monarchy and the succession throes there, the Dutch might confuse us even more: Queen Beatrix makes the third consecutive royal leader in Holland to stand down. How are we supposed to understand this? Simon Kuper is a Financial Times columnist who grew up in Holland and has lived in London. Few would seem better qualified to help us make sense of it all. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Paul Theroux, Author “The Last Train to Zona Verde”

It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Paul Theroux is one of the great American writers, with a special – though not exclusive – affinity for travel. He took us by train from London’s Victoria Station to Tokyo and back again by way of the Trans-Siberian Railway. He later took the Orient Express to begin a journey that led to Sri Lanka and Turkey. He now returns, you might say, to his roots. Africa. He first arrived there as a recent college grad in the 60s and his new book, “The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari,” continues a voyage he wrote about some 10 years ago. How has that continent changed? How does hope for progress there breathe within the realities of government and urban sprawl? Theroux joins us now. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Cameron Stracher, Author of “Kings of the Road”

The fact that the Boston bombing occurred at a marathon – a celebration of one of America’s most popular participation sports – is not lost on many of us. My next guest, Cameron Stracher, calls running a marathon “an act of faith,” and he has written about the freedom that comes with putting on a pair of shoes and hitting the pavement. Stracher is the author of “Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, co-Author “Big Data” & Oxford University Professor

Of all the changes technology brings to our lives, none may be more significant to what it means to interact in a human society than Big Data. Nearly every nanosecond of every day, we and the machines around us generate billions of bytes of data – information – that when analyzed reveal not just what we’ve done, but what we’re thinking. The reality and potential around Big Data are hugely positive – from public health to smarter shopping – and scary negative – the ability for governments and neighbors to pry into our privacy in highly uncomfortable ways. You might say Big Data sits at the intersection of technology and morality. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. He is also co-author of “Big Data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

David Rose, MIT Media Lab

Today more than ever, great, new, innovative ideas come from anywhere. But if you had to name a capital for this place called anywhere, it just might be the MIT Media Lab, where researchers design technologies for people to create a better future. This group of incredible thinkers and doers take existing and non-existing technologies and evolve them to make our every day lives better. How does that happen? Within the Media Lab is something called the “Tangible Media Group,” and within the “Tangible Media Group” is my next guest – David Rose, visiting scientist, product designer, teacher, and serial entrepreneur. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Jonathan Hock, 8-time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer & editor

ESPN’s 30 for 30: What began as 30 documentaries to celebrate the network’s 30th birthday has become a signature for some of the best storytelling around the role of sports in society. The series is headlined by award-winning directors – people like Barry Levenson and Ice Cube and Jonathan Hock. An 8-time Emmy winner, Hock’s 30 for 30 films include one on football flameout Marcus Dupree and another on the inspirational 1983 North Carolina State NCAA championship basketball team. (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Alan Siegel, Founder Siegel+Gale & SiegelVision

As communications in this age of Twitter and Facebook and email and texting and targeted ads and so on, have gone – shall we say – a bit haywire, something of a trend has emerged among those who do it well: Simplicity. Today more than ever, if you want to get your message heard, you’ve got to keep it simple. And the style – the language – used for simple messaging is equally simple. It’s called Plain English. And if that’s not clear to you – if I’m not making it simple enough – my next guest will. Because, with only slight exaggeration, Alan Siegel founded Simplicity. And he did it more than 40 years ago. Since then, Siegel became an icon in the branding world, helping groups like the NBA, Xerox, American Express, Caterpillar, The Girl Scouts and others define who they are and how they say it. He founded the global firm Siegel + Gale, recently launched SiegelVision, and his latest book is “Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Dr. Tony Marx, President & CEO, New York Public Library

For all the talk of the decline of public education, we take a moment to celebrate one of the most famous public high schools in America – Bronx High School of Science, which turns 75 this year. With 8 Nobel Prize winners – more than Australia, they point out, and tied with Norway – Bronx Science is one of the most accomplished public schools we have. It is also home to an incredible alumni list, including writer E.L. Doctorow, architect Daniel Libeskind, and my next guest, New York Public Library President & CEO Dr. Anthony Marx. The former President of Amherst College, Dr. Marx has spent his career promoting higher education for low-income students and today runs the one of the largest public libraries in the world — at a time when technology and digital are completely overhauling not only how we learn, but perhaps even what it means to be a library. (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

John Hunter, Teacher & Author, “World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements”

If you’ve ever watched kids programming on, say, Disney Channel or Nick – or seen a kids movie – they all seem to have the same general world view: Adults know nothing, and everything would be a lot better if kids ruled the world. For some 35 years, one educator has put that theory into action. Starting with an in-class game he calls “World Peace,” John Hunter has spent decades letting school children – from high school down to 4th grade – address and solve various issues. The result has been an incredibly hopeful and inspirational series of lessons so simple a child can understand them, that if applied by adults, just might be able to change the world. John Hunter, teacher, author of “World Peace and other 4th Grade Achievements” has brought his ideas to the Pentagon and the United Nations and elsewhere. (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Yann Martel, Author “Life of Pi”

With just a month to go before the biggest movie night of the year, I want to talk about a book. And not just any book, but the thoroughly compelling story of a boy and a tiger and, if not the meaning of life, then at least a reflection on the existence of a higher being. A story that captured the world’s attention, winning the Booker Prize and selling more than 9 million copies. It was made into a movie, earning an astonishing 11 Academy Award nominations. What makes Life of Pi so popular? Why does this tale of a boy from a faraway land speak so clearly to so many of us? Few should know better than the author, Yann Martel, and he joins us now from Canada. (Originally broadcast 1-27-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Kelly Hoey, Start up Advisor & Founder, Women Innovate Mobile

When was the last time you watched television alone? And by alone, I don’t mean with no one else in the room — I mean, without a digital device at the ready. I mean your smart phone or tablet or laptop. How are mobile, universal connectivity and the good old TV merging to once again change our lives? Here to help us understand: Kelly Hoey, a start up advisor and Founder of Women Innovate Mobile, the first startup accelerator and mentorship-driven program designed for women-founded companies in mobile technology. (Originally broadcast 1-27-13 on The John Batchelor Show)