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Meredith Viera Proves Managing Your “Fit” Helps Your Career

Meredith Viera’s move to the Today Show (NYT 4/6/06) reinforces a powerful and important message. Strategically adjusting your work+life “fit” to support your unique realities actually helps your career in the long run. It allows you to continue doing work you love, while finding time and energy for your personal life. But it requires seeing beyond the “all or nothing,” and redefining success for yourself, so that you feel good about the “fit” you are pursuing—even if other people don’t understand it.

In 1991, award-winning journalist, Viera, shocked many by walking away from her prestigious position as a correspondent for 60 Minutes. She was pregnant with her first child, and they weren’t willing to give her the flexibility she wanted. At the time, she was said to have remarked: “Once I realized I was a reporter who didn’t want to report because it required tremendous amount of travel, nobody was interested in having me work for them. I had to reinvent myself.”

Which she did by taking less demanding, and what some might consider less prestigious professional roles. She joined ABC in 1994 as a correspondent for a show called Turning Point. In 1997, she started co-hosting the daytime talk show, The View, and then she became the host of the game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. During this time, she apparently turned down other high-profile, hard to resist offers to host the CBS Early Show, and Good Morning America, because they didn’t fit into her personal reality—she was the mother of three young children whose husband had numerous health problems.

Ironically, her detour into less serious programming may have helped her take the lead in the race for the Today Show slot. Some initial reports credit NBC sources as saying it was her combination of serious journalistic credibility and daytime talk show experience that put her in front of the pack of contenders.

When Meredith Viera becomes co-host of the Today Show, her career will have come full-circle. Fifteen years after she shocked the world by walking away from 60 Minutes to find a better “fit”, she will be back at the helm of a prestigious news program. Her choices didn’t hurt her career at all. They helped. It’s all in how you define it.

Her story reminds us all of some important work+life “fit” lessons:

  • Redefine success for yourself so you can feel good about the fit you what to pursue.
  • Allow yourself to pull over into the “slower” lane for a while if necessary, even though others may continue to pass you by in the fast lane.
  • Remember that it’s a lot easier to pull back into the fast lane from the slower lane than from a stop at the side of the road.
  • Understand that your work and personal realities will change many times over the course of your life and career, and adjust your “fit” accordingly.

Personal Work+Life “Fit” Innovation: How Mike Moody and Jeff Ward share a job as assistant in-house counsel at Timberland (an excerpt from their 60 Minutes interview)….

In last week’s blog I mentioned an excellent 60 Minutes segment about the 24/7 work reality. I wanted to share a story from the piece about Mike Moody and Jeff Ward, two attorneys who created a job share at Timberland. Their story illustrates how anyone—men or women—can take the initiative in the 24/7 work reality and create a work+life “fit” that meets their needs as well as the needs of the business. The excerpt from the segment about Mike and Jeff is below:

Mike Moody and Jeff Ward left high stress, six-day-a-week jobs as big-city lawyers because they wanted to spend more time with their wives and children. They decided to do what more and more working mothers are doing — share a job.

“Well, for the first six months of the job, I was referred to as the new Joanne,” says Jeff.

The job of assistant in-house counsel at Timberland in Stratum, N.H. had been filled by two women for years.

“I have two weekends a week. Yeah,” says Mike. “And I have a four-day weekend,” Jeff adds.

It is a pretty sweet deal. They each work three days a week, overlapping on Tuesdays.

How do they keep the office from pulling them back in on their days off?

“It’s a constant struggle,” Jeff admits. “We’re always on call because of the BlackBerry.”

“The crackberry,” Mike jokes.
The BlackBerry is practically attached to Mike’s body — even on his days off, when he’s the house-husband in the kitchen and in the laundry room.

The company pays them 75 percent of full-time pay, because, as it’s turned out, they each end up working about 40 hours a week.

“That’s a full-time job,” Stahl remarked.

“It’s not many people’s full-time job though,” Mike replied.

“But it’s what we used to think of as a full-time job,” Stahl said.

“Absolutely,” Jeff agreed.

Jeff and Mike created a vision of what they wanted and made it a reality that works for them and the company. Win-win for everyone.

Join me on Tuesday, April 18th for the next Work+Life “Fit” Blog!