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Bonus Episode 05: Work-Life Integration

Bonus Episode 05: Work-Life Integration

Are your teeth starting to hurt because finding time to go to the dentist is too challenging? At goodr we strive for “work-life integration” because “work-life balance” is fool’s gold. Our goal is to create a culture where you can show up as yourself everywhere and do what you need to do (like go to the dentist…) while excelling in your career.

Most people spend more time with their co-workers than their family. Imagine if you loved your work so much you wanted to integrate it? How good would your work-life and your personal life be?
For starters-- work-life balance is not a thing. Shots fired! When we think of “balance” we think of a scale, where the goal is to make both sides even. Ew. The reality is work-life balance and work-life separation are more or less the same thing. It’s the idea that one doesn’t touch the other, or the two stay even. We obvi agree that you shouldn’t work all of the time, and yet, in reality, the world happens at different times. You might need to go pick up your kid from school, or bring your dog to the vet, you might just need to figure out how to squeeze a damn workout in! So, instead of separating work and life, put them together, integrate those mofos! This extends beyond the time boundary of work and life. For example, if the two areas are separate, ask yourself, can you show up as your authentic self at both places? For example, even outside of goodr, it’s very likely that this would result in having a “work Stephen” and a “personal Stephen.” We’re not trained psychologists by any means, but that sounds like a personality disorder. How do we create a world where you can show up as yourself everywhere, do what you need to do (whether it’s go to the dentist or go for a run) and pick up where you’re working later on. How do you integrate them instead of making rigid boundaries with work? That’s our goal at goodr.

As we’ve been onboarding new staff at goodr we often get a very excited cry of, “Oh I can be ‘ME’ here?!” It’s a huge relief to new hires. Yes, we hired YOU, not work-you. Our approach isn’t, “Here is your job start fucking doing it.” It’s more like, “Hey, nice to meet you! Let’s figure out your Enneagram type. What do you like doing? Who are you? Oh, amazing. This is your role! Enjoy!” We didn’t hire you to do your job. We hired YOU to do your job. goodr has been organized from the beginning to have this integrative approach.

Functioning this way was not a master plan, it was the result of starting goodr as a side hustle. The OG founders had no choice but to make their work with goodr a part of their life. They recognized early on that employees didn’t need to be in the office every day and jumped on that virtual train really early. Full steam ahead! Tooot toot!

The trick? Build a company that your team loves. Stephen asked himself, “How can we create a company where everyone feels the same way I do?” And then, how do we create that over and over again? That is challenging the status quo. And the skeleton key to it all is: Enjoy the actual work.

One shift that happened over time was realizing that sometimes people aren’t a fit for the company and that’s okay. “Oh you’re a really good talented individual, and goodr isn’t the place for you,” is a super acceptable realization. For the first two to four years, nobody at the company left voluntarily, however, we’re not trying to be everything to everyone, and as a result people leave. That’s okay.

In life sometimes friends are not a fit, and it’s okay to end those relationships too. We’ve hired friends, and even they have realized that it wasn’t the job for them. It goes back to Stephen’s main initiative, “I just want everyone to love what they do and be fulfilled, and if you’re not getting that, let’s help you find something somewhere else.”

Another reckoning in creating work-life integration is that flexible work hours lead to a more happy and productive team. It is fascinating how Covid has forced people to catch up with the times-- and we’re not talking about Zoom meetings, it’s basic autonomy that is in play. Let’s be clear, virtual working and autonomy are not the same thing. They are completely different. A company ends up spending more money on staff without autonomy because of all the unnecessary middle managers standing over people. If you’re a bean counter, think of it this way: When you really teach autonomy you get happier employees, they also are better at what they do, and more productive, therefore requiring less employees, saving you a pretty penny (or 2 or bazillion).

The thing is, everyone wants autonomy, not everyone wants accountability. Accountability is crucial. Like a fresh chocolate chip cookie and milk, you can’t have one without the other-- unless you’re vegan, then please find a plant-based alternative. In this lovely bonus episode, Stephen talks about holacracy, a method of decentralized management and organizational governance, where authority and decision-making are role based. It’s a flat reporting structure. The element that holacracy fails at toting is the importance of accountability. We have our quarterly reviews, and give feedback regularly to stay accountable. Learning how to give and receive feedback is quite challenging, and yet, it is how we stay accountable. Keep people around that want feedback.

Another wild success as pertains to autonomy is when you can direct your own time, you care about it more. People take elevated pride in their work because they own it. As a result, everybody levels up, and the goodr employees end up doing dope ass shit all of the time. At goodr you can (pretty much) do whatever you want, as long as you produce at a high level. With that, our growth and revenue per employee is substantially higher than industry standards. Skillfully taught autonomy has pushed us to that level. Issues arise when people don’t want feedback and when expectations aren’t clear.

Setting boundaries with work is challenging, especially now that we’re all working from our living rooms. As Stepehn explains, it is a practice. He advises turning off ALL notifications. He schedules time to check Slack and read email instead of having those red dots pop up like pimples at the onset of puberty. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS and stay focused. The only notification Stephen has on is his text messages, and only once he enters his home screen.

Time blocking is another handy trick to help create boundaries aka allow time for life. People are going to try to steal your time. You can’t get into a real project in an hour. For big projects, timeblock three full hours. You’ll thank yourself later.

Lastly, start your day with a walk. Let your mind unwind. Get distance from what you were thinking about before.

As a way to hold himself accountable Stephen has a series of self reviews. He completes an in-depth weekly review, which involves getting to inbox zero. He does a 20 minute monthly review, checking in with himself on if he is living into his purpose and values. He breaks this down into three categories: himself, friends and family, and goodr. “Be an amazing lover,” is on this monthly check-in. This is a project he has for himself and his partner. By checking on it monthly he knows when he is on track and when he needs to pull himself back on track or reevaluate his goals.

Quarterly, Stephen does a ridiculously in-depth review. So in-depth that it will likely exist as its own podcast episode one day. The check-in questions for this review should be somewhat measurable and quantifiable. Things like, “Are you happy?” That’s a really hard thing to define. Peel those layers back like a banana. His favorite question is, “When is the last time you laughed so hard you cried?” If you haven’t noticed, a lot of what this episode is talking about is making sure you’re enjoying your life.

If you just do a quarterly review, it’s better than nothing. Ideally though, you’re also setting daily reminders. This is a wise way to function, versus letting it all slide to one day in the quarter. Simple tasks like reviewing your calendar before the next day so there are no surprises will help keep you on track. To keep his life from getting stale, Stephen takes off three days a year (well more than that, but three just for this purpose) and revamps everything within his personal reviews. If something isn’t working go bankrupt! No, not Monopoly style bankrupt… wipe your slate clean and start fresh with your goals.

Stephen uses everything discussed in CULTURE goodr Season 2 in his personal life. Enneagram, Dare to Lead, GTD… all of it. Shaun talks about harmony and practice, his two personal values which he discovered from studying Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead. Shaun is able to relate these values to his Enneagram type. By thinking of it all together, he’s learning how to expose his blindspots and work through challenges. Shaun nerds out on the Enneagram pretty much every chance he gets, trying not to overly “type” people.

It should also be noted that decks, aka Google Slides are not just for bizznass, Stephen makes decks for everything. He is the most spontaneous person alive because he knows all the balls he’d be dropping if he were to go on vacation tomorrow (and yep, there is a deck for that vacation). When you have all the things taken care of, you essentially create the space in your life to go get lost in a foreign country.

Oh and shit talking. It’s gross. The “No-Gossip Please Episode” applies outside of work too. “Heyyy, that might be true, but that person is not here.” This is a great way to lead by example when you catch the rumor mill churning. Other people don’t want to talk shit either, it just feels good in the moment.

Do you have a home office setup? Stephen does not. He is fortunate that he still gets to go into his beautifully wallpapered office. Podcast recording is the exception. He records those in a closet at home.
How do you keep work from interrupting your time off? Zero notifications turned on, ever, and when Stephen leaves the office on Friday, he’s done. And we all know and respect that.

Are you productive during your commute? Sometimes. Stephen has an 18 minute commute. After recording the podcast on Wednesday he takes a ten minute break, gets in the car and calls Shaun to prep for the next week’s recording. Talking on the phone while driving is the best-- hands free of course. If he has nobody to chat with, he pops on a podcast.

If you randomly decide to go golfing tomorrow afternoon, how would that change your day today? He wouldn’t do that… but okay… if there is a ridiculously rad opportunity, Stephen would look at his calendar and politely ask how to get out of all of the meetings he had. He’d make it work, and if he couldn’t, he’d feel FOMO for a few hours (or days…) and move on.

What’s your favorite CULTURE goodr concept that you use in your personal life? Feedback. Stephen finds himself giving feedback regularly, and guess what? People do not like it. What’s the alternative though? He sits there pissed and they think what they’re doing is okay. Nope. Not in SDL’s world!

How do you use stuff at goodr for difficult convos during the holidays? First, listen. People want to talk. Then ask, “What value does that represent for you?” People can’t handle that question, and it stops them in their tracks. It’s a great tool to use to ask people what something really means to them.

People might think that all of the initiatives at goodr conflict with each other. They don’t. It is only conflicting if you let it be. Nothing is ever black and white. These concepts work together, and there is constant nuance. It’s always 50 shades of gravy. Hah, we meant gray… 50 Shades of Gravy were our Thanksgiving sunglasses, silly us.
Work-life separation is fool’s gold. Stop trying to separate them. Depending on your job you might be able to separate them. Just make sure you’re being authentically you wherever you show up. If you can’t separate it, and you’re not happy, look for that company that allows you to be you.
If you haven’t subscribed to our email list, do that now. And be sure to head over to like all of the pictures on the @culturegoodr Instagram. Go crazy, we won’t judge you for it.

* This episode of CULTURE goodr was edited by Josh Montgomery.

Tune in Now: Listen to the Episode Here

Get to know the dynamic duo

Meet the hosts

stephen lease

Stephen Lease is the CEO (Chief Executive Octopus) of goodr and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr Podcast. Since Stephen co-founded the company in 2015, goodr has grown to over 140 employees, with award-winning sunglasses sold in more than 5,000 doors worldwide. Stephen’s spirit animal is an octopus, he’s soul-bonded with a basset hound, and he is 16% flamingo.

shaun tinney

Shaun Tinney is the Dean of goodr University (Head of Learning and Development at goodr) and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr podcast. When he’s not helping goodr employees level up their behaviors, he’s writing and performing music. Recently he released his first EP, Living Driven, about the quest for self-reliance, fresh perspective, and creative freedom.

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