As a recovering workaholic, Brad White explains how employees feed off of a company’s culture! When the bar is set at 60+ hours a week, employees are on a fast track to burnout. Brad tells us how prioritizing his time, and working intentionally has allowed him to complete the same amount of work while helping him reconnect with his kids, his wife, and his purpose.
Recovering Workaholic Dads
I’m Coach Brad, Owner of Recovering Workaholic Dads, LLC. with expertise in coaching workaholics and recovering workaholic dads to put family first. We help you clarify your priorities, and provide crucial support and accountability, so you can get your life back and re-connect with your wife and kids!
My background includes 20+ years as a C-Level executive leader in a small/mid-market business where I spent the first 10 years as a workaholic dad, and the last 10 years as a recovering workaholic. I learned how to get my life in balance and I can help you get your life in balance too.
I’m a common-sense, down-to-earth dad of 3, who’s made the same mistakes you have made, sacrificing family for a job, putting my own needs above my wife and kids, and I’ve lived through it so I can show the way for you and other hard-working dads.
Ferociously Curious ✦ Emotionally Intelligent ✦ Relationship-Focused
Skills: executive and career coaching, life coaching, life-balance coaching.
Always seeking opportunities to network with hard-working, over-achieving dads, who desire a more balanced life.
Recovering Workaholic Dads
We Help Workaholic and Recovering Workaholic Dads in Several Critical Areas...
From the Podcast Booth:
Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Josh Sweeney: Hello fellow culturists and welcome to the Culture Expert Series of the Epic Company culture podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space. Now, let’s talk to our culture expert. Alright Brad, thank you for being on the show.
Series: Culture Experts
Brad White: Absolutely, thanks for having me.
Josh Sweeney: So to kick it off tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
Introducing Brad White with Recovering Workaholic Dads
Brad White: Well, I can tell you that I am a husband of 22 year, a dad of 16 years, I’ve got twin daughters that, literally, just turned 16 and got their license today. So I’m very excited about that. They’re very excited about that. I’m a little worried for drivers out there but good stuff. I’ve got a 13 year old son and so that’s the family side of me.
The Back Story
Josh Sweeney: So your business is Recovering Workaholic Dads right?
Brad White: Yes.
Josh Sweeney: Tell me a little bit about that.
Brad White: Well, I can kind of give you the back story. The first ten years of my career I was a workaholic. I was that guy that was working 70, 80 hours a week. I was sleeping at the office. I was just totally consumed with my job, trying to get the money, get the title. It was all very ego based stuff and about halfway through that career, about ten years, I had this epiphany.
A lot of things happened sort of all at once that led me to realize that it wasn’t just all about the money and it wasn’t all about the pay-check and I really wanted to have a balanced life. So I decided then to stop being a workaholic so that’s why I call myself a recovering workaholic and it’s one of those things that it’s hard to get rid of those tendencies. I’m very driven, but I have to balance that. So for the last ten years I’ve been a recovering workaholic, I’ve been trying to maintain a 45, maybe max 50 hour work week so that I can spend time with my family, reconnect with my wife and kids, have friends, work out, be fit, do all those types of things.
The business is basically a professional coaching business where I am now trying to help dads, in particular. That’s why we call it Recovering Workaholic Dads. Trying to help dads, in particular, who are going down that same dead end of workaholism, and trying to help them see a better path so that they can get their purpose back, get their passion back, get their joy back, effectively get their life back.
Setting The Bar
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I like where you set the bar on that. So, I heard you said ‘I’m a recovering workaholic dad’ therefore you’re not a recovering workaholic dad anymore So you limit it to 45 to 50 hours a week. So I love where the bar is set, because it’s still nice and high. And you’re probably getting a lot done in that amount of time. But, it’s probably not as much as you used to get in the past.
Brad White: Totally. In fact, one of the things that I have found personally, (and I’ve also found it with some of the clients that I help) is that you can work 60 hours, you can work 70, you can work 80 however many hours you want to fill your time, you’ll fill it. But the question is are you being productive with your time, are you being smart with your time. Because I can guarantee you I can do now in 40 hours what I use to do in 60. Just because I’m much more focused; I’m much more intentional. You talk about culture, and that type of thing. The mindset around being focused on stuff that’s going to move the needle in your business is much more intentional now than it was a long time ago when I was a workaholic.
I’m sure just like with a lot of the people you talk with, we’re always on our electronics, we’ve always got the devices in our hands. It’s not just our kids doing that, we’re doing it too. We spend a lot of time wasting time so what’s so awesome is I’ve been able to be just as productive as before just working less.
Strong Work Ethic
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, by managing that time. So, you mentioned a little bit about company culture. What do you think is part of a culture, within organisations, that make people workaholics. Are people workaholics by nature, is it part of the environment, what are the big attributes to that?
Brad White: To me it’s two things. I think, one, is it starts with a strong work ethic. Which is the good side of being a workaholic. You put on your resume, ‘I have a strong work ethic.’ That’s never viewed as a bad thing, right? But, what I’ve seen (and again this is personal experience) what I saw in the company that I worked for was an environment where the boss was working lots and lots of hours, he was the owner, and so he is incentives to work a lot because it’s his business. I saw that and said ‘well, I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do.” So, part of it was I’m just following the role model that was in front of me, which is work, work, work, work, work. It’s funny, back when that company was started myself and a lot of the people running it weren’t married, we didn’t have kids. So, that kind of set us on this path were it was all about work. What else is there? It’s just me and my job, and me and my travel. So I think that was the part it in that culture that took my strong work ethic (which is the good part) and, really, allowed it to spin out of control, because I was following somebody else who wasn’t, necessarily, being the best role model in terms of how to have a life balance.
Affirmation Was The Job
Josh Sweeney: Got it. Do you think that kind of morphs over time too. So you talk about being in an environment where a lot of people are working a lot of hours, maybe there’s a lot of single people, and then over time people get married and have kids and that has to shift but maybe they never make that shift.
Brad White: Yeah, absolutely. I see that every day. This is the interesting thing about it, especially when you look at family relationships, husband and wife relationships. A lot of times (again I talk to guys so I kind of use that as my context) when guys go to work and they do a really really good job and they complete projects and they make money for the business what that tends to do is affirm them. So, I go to work and I get affirmed, I get that promotion, I get that bonus. So I going ‘wow, that seems to be working.
So let me just keep doing more and more of that.” Where a lot of times the dads get home and it’s ‘hey, take out the trash. Here’s the baby.’ I need a break. My wife was a stay at home mom for a few years and that was kind of the story. I’d get home and it wasn’t like ‘hey, here’s Mr. Man’ coming home that makes all the money. It was ‘no, no, no, I need a break. Take out the trash. There’s laundry that needs to be folded. I’m not doing it all myself.” So there wasn’t as much of that affirmation when I got home. So that was another part of it, especially for me, where I just kept doing what was affirming me. So, what was affirming me was the job.
Josh Sweeney: That makes perfect sense ’cause you probably wanted to go home and take a break too. Not migrate all those items onto you. So that’s the struggle in managing the family and managing the expectations and having those conversations.
Brad White: I’ll even add to it too. Part of my experience, part of the early part of my career, I was traveling a lot. I was one of these guys who was traveling around the country, it was a software training company, so I was out training around the country. For me to go on the road, it was actually a break because I didn’t have to do laundry, I didn’t have to clean the house, I didn’t have to do some of the home stuff. I could just go off and do my job and be on the road. Living out of a suitcase wasn’t a problem.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, nice per diem and go to dinner at night.
Brad White: I could go to bed and watch TV for two hours and nobody was complaining. In terms of relationships, not healthy. In terms of relationships, not really putting my priorities in the right place. To the point about culture and what sort of feeds that. It was just about the affirmation stuff that I could get from the road and from the job.
The Culture in Workaholics
Josh Sweeney: What do you see in other cultures that you work with, around this topic. Are you seeing a lot of workaholics and what do you do about that?
Brad White: Good question. In fact, I’ve got this buddy that I met just a few months ago and we’ve started talking and there’s really two parallels between what he’s doing in his company and what I was doing in our company. So, when I started, a little over 20 years ago, it was a start up business. I mean it was a brand new business. Literally one year off the ground. Just like any organisation that’s so new there was no structure, there was no policies, there was no procedures. It was just everything was a fire. As a small company, we all had to wear many many hats. I see that a lot, where you’ve got (ladies and men, of course) wearing 3, 4, 5 different hats and it’s really hard to line your job up and say ‘I’m going to work on this today’ because things are happening all the time.
So this friend of mine is in exactly the same situation, he’s working in a company that’s probably 2-3 years old, they’re seeing a lot of growth. At the same time that means there’s a lot of chaos too. There’s not a lot of efficiencies in a startup, so everyone is working inefficiently. There’s not quite as much structure and streamlined processes and things like that so the natural inclination is instead of trying to fix that stuff it’s just ‘throw more hours at it.’ That’s the short term way of thinking about it.
Josh: That makes perfect sense, I’ve had my share of startups and you just grind it out. You grind it out as much as you need to and just keep going. It doesn’t feel like there’s many other options there. But, I guess, now in my second, into my third, company, you get to a point where you know you have to have the balance or everything is going to crumble. You need the balance of working out, you need to make sure you stick to that regimen, family time, and all the other factors that come into play.
Brad: Yeah. In fact, one of the things I’ve found (to your point about the balance) is when I’m not working out consistently, it affects my mood and that affects my attitude and it affects the way I relate to other people. If I’m not spending time with friends, that are important to me, I can let those things go 2-3 months and then finally you’re picking up the phone and it’s like you’re starting up all over again.
Josh Sweeney: They ask you who you are. ‘Who are you?’
Brad White: Yeah, exactly. I think it’s even more so with women (I’ll speak on my wife’s behalf.) I can go without talking to maybe a friend of mine for several months and then you pick up the phone and you’re still the best of buddies and everything is fine. My wife, on the other hand, if she doesn’t talk on the phone for two months, you must be enemies. The view of it is so different. To her that stuff is really really important, so if someone is not reaching out they must not like you, there must be some problem. As opposed to just ‘well, I’m just busy working.’ It’s kind of interesting.
Josh Sweeny: So, what would you tell people that have a small business, or even a big business, with a lot of workaholics. What are some of the negative effects that they need to be aware of in managing people and managing their own time?
Brad White: Two things. One is the burnout. That is the most obvious thing. If you’ve got a lot of people in your company and they’re working (5 pm is their stop time for the day in your particular industry or business) if you’ve got people who are working til 6, til 7, til 8, or even later the first question I would have, first off, is ‘is this an isolated event? Is this a short term thing? Is there some project that’s just on fire and it really needs to get solve?’ In which case, I’m totally okay with that, I’ve done that where I’ve worked 70/80 hour weeks because it was a critical project. What I try to look at, when I’m working with folks, is is that a consistent trend or not? Is that normal? Or is that the exception? If that is the exception, okay we can live with that. We can do those little spurts of energy and time on a short term basis and we’ll all live. We’ll all get through it.
But, if I was running a company and I saw people who were working 70 hours a week consistently, week in/week out, not taking vacation, not spending time with their family, it’s like ‘hey, there’s a holiday’ but they’re still at the office. I would see that as a major, major red flag. Just putting it on the radar that ‘oh okay, this is happening. This is not just project time sensitivity. This is a normal state of what is happening in our business.’ The burnout is the biggest problem with that and what you’re going to have is people, again, aren’t actually more productive, they’re just spending more time.
The Trade off
Brad White: If I was looking at that I would be ‘okay, so what can we do to help you focus on what is most important in the business.’ If there is other things you can delegate and maybe offload to some of those people (maybe it’s some lower level skills, you’ve got some other people in your company that aren’t as high in the hierarchy.) One, they’re probably just as capable of doing to as you are. If you can delegate that stuff, you’ll actually be more productive and focused on higher value stuff. That’s been one of the ways in my career that I’ve continued to advance. Continue doing more and more valuable stuff and inevitably the only way you do that is by getting rid of some the other stuff you used to do, maybe when you started, somebody else can do. You can raise up somebody else to do it. I think that’s probably big thing, is (just kind of a summary) to be aware that that’s happening and that it’s not, necessarily, a spontaneous thing but it’s an ongoing, consistent, lifestyle if you will. I think I would have some intentional sit downs with folks to say ‘what are we working on? How can you be more intentional about what you’re working on? What can we delegate to other people?’
The Impact of being Intentional
Josh: So, I’ve heard intentionality a few times but also this concept of time management. Picking the most important items and making sure you’re putting the effort into those. Are there any things that you’ve done over a period of time to enhance your time management skills? Do you sit down every Sunday night and plan your week? Or, do you have a time management journal that people use? What have you found is your best practices on time management and making sure the most important things are done first?
Brad: Good question. I’m going to be really real and authentic with you.
Josh: You’re still figuring it out.
Brad: No, I’ve figured out some of it. I enjoy hearing people that say ‘oh yes, here’s how to plan this stuff out.’ And then I’m like ‘okay, but yeah are they really doing it?’ For example, I’ve got every Sunday on my calendar I’ve got this thing that’s ‘okay, look at my values, look at my priorities, look at what’s coming up for the current week, and figure out what’s the biggest impact that I can make.’ Now, do I look at that every Sunday? No, I don’t. At some point you get to the point where you naturally understand ‘okay, I understand what my values are, I understand what my priorities are.’ I still do that on occasion, it’s just not as consistent as, even I, would like to do.
But what I do in the morning, everyday that I go to work, I do look at the calendar for the day. I try to identify one thing that has to happen, and I also try to identify one thing that completely doesn’t need to happen. If there is something on my calendar that doesn’t need to happen then I just get rid of it, I just delete it. Because that helps me focus on that one thing that does have to happen. I’ve got, like I think a lot of people do, they’ve got a running to-do list. It’s a never ending to-do list, especially for you. If you’ve run multiple businesses before, you know there is no such thing as getting done with the list. There’s just more stuff.
Josh Sweeney: For everything you take off the list three go on.
Brad White: Exactly. I think the one simple tip is to look at your day, identify that one thing that has to happen, and stay focused until that one thing is done. If you get it done, great. Then you can move on to that next thing that you might have wanted to do that wasn’t completely essential. But, now you’re making intentional progress. That word intentional again. So, that’s one thing that I do. The second thing that I have learned to do, and it’s such a hard habit to break, is putting that phone away. Just like our kids, every time it dings you’re looking at the phone. I have gotten to the habit of putting it on silent, turning it over so I can’t actually see the screen, and putting it at the far end of my desk where I would have to, literally, would have to get out of my seat to reach it. Those two things, 30% improvement, right off the bat and it just takes five seconds.
Josh Sweeney: Nice! I love it. I love how the ‘lifehacks’ and the way to plan your day. I don’t plan it enough as well. I used to sit down every Sunday and make sure the week was planned and I still do some of it, but not enough to be as efficient as I want to be. Kind of the same thing with the phone. You’ve got to flip it over so the blinking lights not blinking and you don’t get distracted by it. Or its not buzzing. I like to turn off all notifications on the phone. I turn them off when you install a new app on MacBook it’s like ‘do you want us to alert you?’ I’m like ‘no, no alerts.’ If I need it, I’ll go to it.
Brad White: Exactly. With the technology these days, I’ve got a MacBook and I’ve got an iPhone and they’re all synced. So, they’re all connected and I’ve got an iPad too. Yeah, the phone goes off and I’m hearing ding ding ding all over the place. Putting the MacBook in ‘do not disturb’ is great. Trust me, it’ll still be there. The call will still be there. The email will still be there. But try to work for an hour before you look at that stuff.
The Value/Priority Based Planning
Josh: We could all get a little bit better at that, for sure. What else would you like to share about Workaholic Dads or Recovering Workaholic Dads?
Brad: Well, I would say that part of my goal is (with my coaching business) really just to help dads who are falling into that same trap, falling into that same mindset. Which is, ‘my value is really directly related to this job and that’s the highest, ultimate goal of my entire life is just to earn that pay-check and get that title and keep climbing the ladder.’ I like to help guys, especially dads, who have lost that joy in their life. They’re just working and working and working instead of living. Just flipping that right on its head and saying ‘we’re a whole person, we’re not just employees, we’re not just business people, we’re a whole person. We’ve got families, we’ve got relationships, we’ve got friends and, like you were saying, health important. Spirituality might be important. Really, identifying, at the core level, what are those things in my life that are most important and am I doing anything to go after that and make sure that those things are being considered.
I call it value/priority based planning of your life. That’s what I like to do. I like to work with dads who are in that struggle, they’re kind of fed up with not having that passion and joy in their life anymore. I like to help them refocus and get back on track so they are living enjoying their life.
Josh Sweeney: I love the mission, I love the goal. I’ve been spending more and more time focusing on the balance over the years. I’ve gone, like you did, single to married to family and seeing the evolution of where my time goes and where it needs to go. Where it’s going versus where it needs to go.
Where To Find Brad White
Josh Sweeney: So, if anybody would like o get in touch with you what would be the best way to get in touch with you?
Brad White: Well, thank you. There are actually two different ways. One would be to check out the website. It is recoveringworkaholicdads.com. The second thing, just like you, I’ve got a podcast and it’s called Recovering Workaholic Dads. So definitely take a listen to the podcast, especially if you’re in that mindset of being a dad who is trying to work less and trying to enjoy life more.
Josh Sweeney: Thank you so much for sharing with us and being on the show.
Brad White: Fantastic. Well thank you for having me.
Josh Sweeney: Alright, well have a great day.
Brad White: Alright, thank you. You too.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit EpicCulture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at EpicCulture1 or email at podcast@EpicCulture.co.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- When I’m not working out consistently, it affects my mood and that affects my attitude and it affects the way I relate to other people
The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a Global business network of 13,000+ leading entrepreneurs in 185 chapters and 58 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
We educate, we transform, we inspire and we offer invaluable resources in the form of global events, leadership-development programs, an online entrepreneur forum and executive education opportunities, among other offerings designed for personal and professional growth.
At its core, EO is a collection of like-minded entrepreneurs focused on business growth, personal development and community engagement. In addition to our mission, vision and core values, our global makeup is comprised of nearly 13,000+ individual member stories.
Prototype Prime is a 501(c)3 non-profit incubator focused on early stage software and hardware technology startups. Our mission is to provide startup companies with the support they need to launch & scale.
Our suburban location within a 500-acre commercial office park, adjacent to a custom- built intelligent mobility test and demonstration track, is the ideal place to envision what smart cities of the future will look like.