A CEO resigned from his job because his 10-year-old daughter wrote a list of all her personal milestones that he missed.
Mohamed El-Erian was CEO of the $2 trillion dollar investment company Pimco when he stepped down this past January. He explained his decision in an article for Worth magazine and the piece instantly went viral. He claimed that, a year ago, he was arguing with his daughter about brushing her teeth when she suddenly handed him a list of 22 things that he had missed because of his job.
“The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season, to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t over. I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos… But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point.”
The list obviously made a heavy impact, as El-Erian made major changes so that he could achieve a better work-life balance. He now alternates with his wife taking his daughter to school, picking her up and started working a less demanding job. While at Pimco, El-Erian reportedly got up at 2:45 a.m. and worked from 4:15 a.m. until 7 p.m. at night.
Read more: Battling work-life balance>
Most people aren’t El-Erian—they don’t take home huge paycheques, and live like millionaires when they quit. However, the reason this story has gone viral tells us that we are ready to talk about the important issue of work-life balance for both men and women. Successful women are often asked about how they “do it all”—sometimes in a condescending way, while men rarely get asked. But balancing the demands of home and work isn’t just a women’s issue—it’s a parental issue.
El-Erian notes that he tried to make work-life balance a priority when he was at Pimco but the message never really resonated with him until his daughter forced him to really think about what that meant to him.
Read more: Work-life balance doesn’t really exist>
Approximately, 95 percent of CEOs are men. If the issue of work-life balance is going to be addressed, then the men in the boardrooms and corner offices have to be willing to talk about it. Is this the start of a larger conversation?