Today, I spoke with Judy Martin, who is an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist and has just launched her new blog today called Work Life Nation.  We talk about issues in the workplace that you’re probably already familiar with, as well as her experiences using the different communication channels, such as radio and TV.  Then we debunk the myth of work/life balance, which I certainly don’t believe in and finish up by talking about how startup companies should be building their company culture.

If you could name the single most annoying thing about the workplace what would it be?

The most annoying thing about the workplace is the fear-based mentality that if you don’t overwork to the point of burnout you won’t succeed. And while there is good reason to fall into that thought pattern by default due to the sluggish economy, it’s just not good for business. The poor economic data and soaring jobless numbers fuels the fear. And that then permeates the workplace leading rank and file into poor morale and an unproductive abyss. Such negative thinking weighs heavy on workers and can become an instrument of leverage for employers.

I’m not suggesting that all employers would use this leverage as a manipulative tool, but it’s reasonable to assume that no matter the sector – all businesses have to do more with less. The pressure is on. While some companies are examining their work life culture and implementing work life balance or flexible initiatives in an effort to produce more productive employees, many remain in the fear-based mentality which has workers on edge concerned about boosting production in order to save their jobs.

I’ve been working in TV news for nearly 20 years and in national radio for half of that time. The broadcast element to reporting adds a dimension and pressure of outward performance. Along with the process of breaking news, doing research, and interviews – broadcast news comes with deadlines which – in the past – rivaled that of print and the web. In our current digital age however – while there are deadlines in broadcast news, the urgency of on-line news trumps just about everything. Whoever has it first – brings it to the world – period

As for anyone looking to get into broadcast news at this point my advice would be two fold:

  1. Know everything you can about the web, podcasting and video on the web.
  2. Have a niche and stay laser focused on it. There’s nothing new out there – but there is a unique way to say it – and a unique lens from which to say it as an expert in your field.

You produce a podcast series and blog, after using traditional media to get your message across for years. What do you feel the difference is and what are the pros and cons of the various mediums?

My podcasts and blog are generated by moi. I do have a radio engineer who i work with for the WorkLife Nation podcasts, but they are not typically straight interviews. My podcasts are more in depth as I present them as news features that you would hear on National Public Radio. Straight interviews are great and easier to do, but my news background often pushes me to want to deliver something tighter than a 5-10 minute interview. I’m not knocking it – it’s just my style of doing things.

Currently, the WorkLife Nation podcast is available on the Public Radio Exchange, but because of the current economic climate and elections, I headed back to the TV newsroom as an anchor. So I’m continuing as an anchor, but am now concentrating now more on the podcasts and in fact video podcasting moving forward. As for traditional media vs the blogosphere, I’m a news person at heart – just the facts – so blogging was a brand new medium for me and thought pattern. I started blogging nearly three years ago with the WorkLife Monitor, which is now relaunching as WorkLife Nation. Even in my blogging however, I will generally call on my news background in my writing.

What is your take on work/life balance? Do you believe in it?

This is a loaded question. My belief is that work life balance is a journey – not a destination. I prefer to look at it as work life integration. That’s why I came up with WorkLife Nation. I believe that we have entered a time in history in which, for many reasons, we have merged our working and living experience. There is a blur between the two worlds because we live in a 24/7 world which has become increasingly interconnected due to the internet and the melding of our global culture. The world is truly flat.

There are a number of reasons for the merging of these worlds:

  1. We live in a 24/7 always-on environment. More people are working from home at odder hours to accommodate our global marketplace.
  2. People are working longer hours bordering on burnout to keep the boss happy, so the line between your out-time and where your in-time starts with your family is hard to differentiate.
  3. We’re seeing more entrepreneurs and boomers interested in a more purposeful career than ever before- as people want to align their core human values with their work life. They are rewiring their careers in droves.

Ultimately, the merge of the working and living experience takes thought, and requires time to figure out. As i mentioned, it is not a destination, it is a journey. It’s a simple reality, if not attended to – us humans will burn out. As former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on CNN last week about the incredible challenges our new president faces, he’ll have to, “Deal with the crisis of the day, but not get consumed by it.”

If you just launched a start-up company, what would you build in the culture from the beginning?

I’m bias because of my interest in work life initiatives so that’s the lens through which I speak and write. It’s about navigating sensory overload while cultivating resilience toward better productivity. But to me it’s a mind set. I have to go back to my original premise for starting WorkLife Nation – success, serenity and significance 24/7. I’d design a culture that embraces the following ideas which to me exalts the human experience instead of squashing it. We are too distracted with info-overload and it can keep us from being human.

  • Success: Redefining success by aligning an employees core values with their individual meaning and purpose at work. This might be looked upon as impractical, but that definition of success would be created and managed by the employee within the parameters of their position.
  • Serenity: Cultivating resilience so an employees unique restorative skills can be revealed to navigate sensory stimulation and foster creativity. That might mean daily exercise, meditation or weekly team contemplative meetings in simplicity.
  • Significance: Allowing workers to use their unique gifts to make a significant contribution to the world or company. We’ve just witnessed great change here in America and it’s clear that we’re living in a world which is craving a collective up-tick in consciousness and sustainable behavior.

Judy Martin is an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist. She has emerged as a reporter and public speaker who gives an objective voice to social concerns, business news and the delicate balance of living and working with purpose, in an era of great uncertainty and chaos. Judy is a national radio contributor whose work has been heard on NPR News, The World, BBC Radio 3, The World Vision Report and The Marketplace Morning Report, where she spent nearly four years in the New York City Bureau. Judy also continues her affiliation with the News 12 Television Networks as an anchor/reporter. Judy has covered some of the greatest tragedies in recent history, including: the 9/11 Terror Attacks, Hurricane Andrew, and the 1989 Avianca Plane Crash.