Ep. 283 - Grant Botma, Author of Work-Life Harmony on Tactics for Managing Your Work & Life


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On this week's episode of Inside Outside Innovation, we sit down with Grant Botma. Grant is the Author of the new book, Work-life Harmony. Grant and I talk about the common problems with work-life balance. And some tactical tips for how to create harmony through the inevitable changes and opportunities that people face each year. Let's get started.

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Interview Transcript with Grant Botma, Author of Work-Life Harmony

Brian Ardinger: Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I'm your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest. Today, we have Grant Botma. He is an entrepreneur and author of the new book called Work Life Harmony. Welcome to the show Grant.

Grant Botma: Hey, thanks for having me on Brian. This is cool.

Brian Ardinger: Grant with all the changes in technology and markets and environmental disruption that's going on in the world. We're trying to talk about what individuals can do to navigate and manage accelerated change. And I thought your book would fit in perfectly. This concept of work-life harmony.

Grant Botma: Yeah, I think balance is great. It's something that all of us need to have in various areas of our life. The problem is somehow our society has made balance the goal. And that's the wrong target. Even the best balancer in the world who holds the Guinness Book of World Records. He fell out of balance. There are times where we fall out of balance. And the biggest travesty I think with that is when we do fall out of balance, because it isn't inevitable.

We feel like a failure. We feel shame. We feel alone. And sometimes it prevents us from continuing to pursue the real goal, which is work-life harmony. Where we don't have a work life and a home life warring against each other all the time. But they're in harmony moving in one direction.

Brian Ardinger: Well, I think a lot of folks are having to reevaluate that in their lives. You know, with COVID and all the changes when it comes to hybrid work. People are now both for good and bad trying to restart. Or we think about how they approach this particular topic. Why don't we talk a little bit about the book? And how you've outlined a number of different tactical concepts that people can go through to create this work-life harmony.

Grant Botma: The biggest concept within the book, is to try to invite your family and your work into this purpose that you are on. What I espouse is that no matter who you are, no matter what you're doing with your work, a business does not exist unless you're serving somebody somewhere with a product or service, right?

So, you are making an impact on somebody's life at somewhere down the line, through your business. And although profit is a great goal and a great thing to have with business, it's not the primary goal. You can still have profit, but not meet your purpose of genuinely serving people. And what we want to do is determine, okay, what does that impact we're making on folks?

Let's put that in something that's simple that everybody in my life that's important can understand. Including but not limited to my coworkers and my team at home. And then you want to create intentional systems and processes. And also have some very tactical things that you can do throughout your week, month and year. To make sure everybody's invited in this mission together. And you're all going in the same direction, and everybody has good expectations managed. That's kind of the big thing.

Brian Ardinger: I had a chance to skim through the book a little bit. And you do break it down for folks how to think about this, because I think it's very easy to struggle with. I know I have to manage my household. I know I have to manage all the work-related things that are happening. But how do I go about doing that? And one of the particular topics is you have what you call is like creating your ideal year calendar.

Grant Botma: Yeah, this has been a huge thing for me and my wife. But then also it's something I make sure all of my employees do as well. That's where you look at the year to come. And instead of putting things specific on this day, at this time. I'm going to go to go here.

It's understanding what are my priorities for this year, both in work and at home. And making sure that you say, okay, during this time of year, I'm going to focus in on this priority and make sure I do that.

But then in this time of year, I'm going to focus in on this other priority and make sure I do that. So, an example is I take my kids out on a birthday trip every year around their birthday. And again, this ideal year calendar I'm not putting the exact date of when I'm going to go on the trip with them, but I know it's around their birthday.

I'm going to say with my son Parker, his birthday, September 15th. Sometime in or around September 15th, I'm going to go on a trip with him. And it's not going to be something that lasts a week. It's just something where I spend one or two nights with him and maybe we go out of town. Maybe we stay here locally. Where I just focused on him.

And I ask him some intentional questions about how I'm doing as a father. I might have some intentional questions about him based on where things are going in his life. But really, it's just, I'm pausing and I'm focusing on him. And I have that priority for each of my three children, but then also my wife during our anniversary.

But I also have some priorities that work to where I get together with my other business partners and founders. And we do a trip. And we ask some intentional questions, and we focus in on what we want our business year to look like. I'd say the biggest thing with the Ideal Year Brian is understanding that I have busy seasons. Communicating to my family ahead of time. These are my busy seasons. So that I can get the support needed before, during, and after those busy seasons as well. Those are just a few of the things that are in that. Ideally your calendar,

Brian Ardinger: And so, the idea of zooming out and getting the big picture at the beginning of the year, so to speak. And blocking time from that. Is it blocking time? Or is it more along the lines of here's the ebbs and flows and things that are going to be part of the year that we know coming up. And then a plan from that?

Grant Botma: Yeah, it's expectation management. Brian, think of it this way. So, harmony, we're going to talk about music for a second. If I asked my wife and kids to sing a note, they'll do it because they love me, and they'll sing. And they'll keep singing and they'll keep singing. But eventually they'll stop. And when they stop singing, I'll look at them like, why did you guys stop?

And they'll say, well, I got tired. And you didn't tell me how long to sing for. But if I tell them ahead of time, hey guys, I need you to sing a note. I need you to just sing it at this tune. I need you just sing it for this long. Chances are there'll be able to sing it longer because their expectations were managed. But they'll perform a whole lot better. And I won't get upset if they stop singing because we have expectations managed.

That's what the Ideal Year Calendar is. It's saying, hey, during this time year, I'm going to focus here. And afterwards we're going to celebrate together because of that purpose that I'm on. We're going to talk about all the impact that was made during that busy season. And then at this time, I'm going to be focusing on over here with you guys doing our birthday trips and that. It's expectation management. Telling them how long we're going to sing notes for and what those notes are going to be.

Brian Ardinger: So in situations, obviously you're an entrepreneur, you know, very well a lot of this stuff can't be planned. And what happens beginning of the year, what is not necessarily what's going to happen at the end of the year from your expectations or otherwise. How do you go about managing the expectations of the fact that they're going to change? That these things are going to have to change.

Grant Botma: I love that. This is the reason why I actually rarely create goals outside of 90 days. Because the world changes so much that the likelihood that I will be able to make every single one of those goals happen over the next 12 months is very, very low. In the book, I repeat over and over and over again. Your goal is to do this at 70%.

If you can live out 70% of your Ideal Year, that's way better than zero intentions on nothing planned and you're just drifting throughout your year. So, you do expectation management and hey, this is what we would ideally, the Ideal Year, would like to live out. This is not the exact year. It doesn't have the dates in there. And we're going to do our best to live by this. But obviously life happens. And when that does happen, we'll make adjustments together.

Brian Ardinger: Do you see different tactics coming to bear? Let's say the beginning of a journey, for example, you know, you're just starting out with your startup or launching a new product or something along those lines. Versus maybe you have an established career. There are more knowns versus at an early starting stage. Are the tactics different?

Grant Botma: Oh, for sure. So, part of the reason why I went on this work-life harmony journey is my wife, her brother, is handicap. He's disabled. And he was injured in a medical accident when he was 11 years old. So, when I went to go ask for permission to marry her. When I went to talk with her parents, I also asked if I could be his caretaker when the time came.

So, my wife and I, we didn't have any choice to get good at work-life harmony. This was something that we've decided that we wanted to do. And we had to get better at it each and every year.

And when you're a business owner, you know, especially at the beginning, you've got to grind, and you've got to go. And there's a lot more busy seasons than there aren't. But we knew that we needed to be in a place where I could have as much flexibility as possible when the time came to be able to care for, his name's Daniel. When the time came.

Yes, it's a journey. This is a journey that my wife and I have been on for basically 17 years now. And every year we do our best to get better at it. And in the book, there's a chapter called evaluations. And with those evaluations, I say that there's four questions that you should be asking.

What can I do more of? What can I do less of? What can I add? And what can I remove? And if you look at your last Ideal Year and how it got lived out. You then before creating the next Ideal Year, can you use those four questions to evaluate on how you want to grow. And how you want to adjust. Based on that season of life or the season that your business is in.

I couldn't take a month off in the spring and a month off in the fall, like I do now, when I first started my business. These are things that have evolved and changed. And it wasn't like, oh, I just arrived and started taking a month off. It was okay, let's take a full week, unplug. One time during the year and see how that goes.

Right. And then we evaluate and adjust it and then we add it to that. And then, oh yeah, let's get to a point where I'm taking a full month off, at one point. I did that. And we adjusted it, added to it. Then we went from a month to a month. And then two weeks later on in September. The last several years has been two months off. And again, I've been a 17-year process to grow and get to that point based on seasons and proper evaluation.

Brian Ardinger: So, let's talk about the business side of this. So, you talked a lot about how this can be played out in your family side for the work-life harmony side. But obviously work-life, work is a portion of that as well. How do these tactics change? And how do you execute on this in the work environment?

Grant Botma: Yeah. One of my frustrations with work-life balance type topics is they all basically equate to this. Hey, stop working so much. And I don't want to do that. I like working. And I'm good at it. And I enjoy it. I believe I was created to contribute.

And again, I believe that business is something that allows me to make a really great impact on people's lives. I find lots of joy in that. That's my purpose. I don't want to stop working. I just want to be as intentional and as efficient and as biggest impact I can possibly make. And just like I do evaluations, and focus with my family, birthdays and anniversaries.

I also do evaluations and focus, like I said, with my leadership and with my team. Every year, we're still asking those same questions. What can we do more of, what can we do less of, what can we add, and what can we remove? And as we evaluate our business over the past year and think about what we want our business to look like in the next year. We're taking that same intention and same focus that I do on my home life, that I'm also doing in my work life.

And the cool part is with the tool of the Ideal Year Calendar. It's not just something I share with my family. It's also something I share with my business partners, my employees. And it's something that we all do as a team. All of my employees do. So much so that we get to celebrate each other as they take trips with their family. Or they do take focus time with their family. But also, we all know when to support each other, when we are in our busy seasons. Or in that really grinding time to try to finish out a project or whatever it may be.

Brian Ardinger: How do you work in clients and customers to that particular thing? Because obviously they're not going to have necessarily access to understanding that. Sometimes their needs conflict with what you want to do. Or what the business wants to do. How do you involve the customer with this?

Grant Botma: The first thing, I make sure I do is I don't hide from the customer that I'm a real human, like they are. I want to connect with my customers as often as I possibly can. And sometimes that is as simple as, like I mentioned in the book, is if I'm on a phone call or if I'm in an interview or whatever else, if I get interrupted by my children or something, I'm not going to yell at them.

I'm going to ask for some grace from the client. And then I'm going to talk to my son who might've interrupted me and say, hey, I'm on the phone with Mr. Doe. And actually, we're talking about something that's really important. We to try to change his life through this advice. And through that thing. I'm going to finish this phone call with him and then I'll get back to you. Okay, buddy.

You know, I'm going to be intentional with how I communicate to my family when I'm on the phone with the client and let the client hear that. And I'm not going to apologize for it to the client either. Like this is life, right. But then also, for my role in my business and the ambassador of our brand, and I'm doing podcasts interviews like this, and I'm writing books and writing blogs and creating videos and YouTube and being very vocal on social media.

I don't have a delineation between my business and my home. It's one life that I live. And whenever I'm communicating in the public about this mission and this purpose that I'm on. Not like a different mission over here and a different focus over there. It's one thing, one focus.

I don't have a bunch of different masks that I wear as I'm engaging with clients or when I'm engaging with my friends on the golf course. Or when I'm engaging with my family at home. I might use a little bit different language here or there. Right. But I'm not going to be a different person. I'm the same guy everywhere. And that's super important too.

Brian Ardinger: So, obviously this is something very personal and passionate to you. And obviously you came up with some ways that could help you as an individual and as a family and a company live these values and live these tactics. So, talking to a company out there, or maybe some of our audience members who haven't thought about work-life harmony in this particular way and that. How do you start building that initial company culture or family culture around these particular initiatives?

Grant Botma: The biggest thing is you let them know you care. And the way that you do that is start small. So, an example that I give in the book. So, in every chapter I give what's called a quick win. One of those quick wins is something that I call One Kid Up. And this is awesome. It's a ton of fun. It takes next to no extra time and energy from you. So, I'm not going to tell you to work less remember. But it's something that allows you to let your kids know that you care.

So, we have three children and once a week we do something called One Kid Up. Where we put the other two kids to bed a little bit earlier. We don't tell them they have to go to sleep. They're a little bit older now, but we do tell them that stay in the room. But one of the kids gets to stay up with mom and dad.

And during that time, we might have intentional conversations with them. Or we're going to talk to them about drugs, alcohol, sex, all the things. But we also might just take the time to just watch their favorite YouTube channel. Or play a board game. Or make a fun dessert after dinner. Either way, it's just focused time with them.

And rather than putting everybody to bed, say at nine o'clock, I just tell two of them to go to their room at 8:30 and then there's 30 minutes that me and mom have with the kid and its focused time. And when we put them to bed after that focus time, the big thing that we want them to hear and know from us is we love you. We care about you and you’re important.

I think that's a great place to start. And weaving those little intentional actions in to your rhythms, another chapter in the book that you do every single week, every single quarter, and every single year. You can build on those every year. As you continue to try to get better at work-life harmony, this journey that we're all on.

Brian Ardinger: So, let's pivot a little bit and talk about your company, Stewardship. It's included a couple of times on the Inc 500 fastest growing company list. You have innovated in a lot of different areas. Why don't you tell the folks a little bit about what Stewardship is and some of the innovations that you're focusing on right now.

Grant Botma: Yeah. So, Stewardship is a group of several different companies. It's a independent mortgage brokerage. An insurance Agency. And investment advisory. They're all independent for purpose so that we can be true fiduciary to our clients and give them the best advice, products and service possible without any bias to us financially. We like to tell our community, we do home loans, insurance, and investments with wisdom and love.

And one of the new initiatives that we're working on right now is starting a real estate company. And the reason why we're starting this is because we saw a problem in our community. There was a need. And now we're going to fill that need. And it's not necessarily more real estate agents or competition with real estate agents.

It's actually a new program that helps people be able to buy their next home while still living in their current home. They'll get early access to the equity from their current home, for the down payment on the new home. For upgrades to the new home.

And they can have those upgrades done while they're still living in their current home. And they don't have to worry about trying to move twice or self first and then live with in-laws or storage and all the things that are associated with that.

And then they don't have to try to sell their home while they're living in it and be ready to show it on a moment's notice because somebody coming by to check it out and you have to make sure it's clean. And now my kid's napping. And then what I do with the dog.

It's a way of selling your current home and buying the next one in the most seamless way possible. It's been several years in the making. A lot of that has come through some of those annual founders’ events that I do with my business partners and asking the four questions that I mentioned before. And we're excited to be launching that here in a few weeks.

For More Information

Brian Ardinger: Well, it's exciting to hear again, that you're continuing to innovate and living the stuff that you're producing out there in the world. If people want to find out more about yourself or the book, what's the best way to do that.

Grant Botma: You know, I'm very active on social media. You can find me on Instagram or Twitter @GrantBotma. Thank you for pronouncing my name correctly at the beginning of the podcast. Yeah. So, you can follow me there or on Facebook. And I'm very active in my direct messages. So, if anybody has questions, you can do that.

Brian Ardinger: We'll Grant, thank you very much for coming on Inside Outside Innovation. Sharing your thoughts and wisdom. Looking forward to continuing the conversation in the future.

Grant Botma: Yeah. Thank you, Brian.

Brian Ardinger: That's it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.


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