This article is brought to you by Shari Medini & features Grant LangstonFor more on this topic, check out the full Work Life Balance collection
Grant Langston is the CEO of eHarmony, is an Americana Music artist, has many hobbies, and has a young family… in other words, he is a very busy man trying to find his own work life balance just like the rest of us! I had the opportunity to ask Grant a few questions about this week’s topic of Work Life Balance on Adore Them, and I am excited to share his answers and insight with you!
Tell us a little about yourself - your career, your hobbies, your family, etc
On the one hand, I’m a 51-year-old man who lives with his wife and two small children in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. I take out the garbage, grill hamburgers, read to my children, and live a peaceful, normal life.
On the other hand, I have a lot of balls in the air.
It’s an exercise in balance, planning, spousal patience, and hard work. I’m the CEO of eHarmony, the online dating service and app…a position I’ve held for the last year. I’m also an Americana Music artist…California country music as opposed to Nashville country music. I have a band called The Supermodels. We make records, play shows, and do most of the other things that musicians do to spread the word and pursue their passion. In my spare time I have to somehow manage to fit in my love of cross country motorcycling, hiking, basketball, books and vinyl. My wife calls me Mr. Hobby. I’m not sure she means that as a compliment. I do have a lot of energy and interests.
What does a day in the life of Grant Langston look like?
There is no typical day in my life. One of the best things about the CEO role is the range of activities. Some days I have 10 meetings, and each is about a completely different part of the business. Some days I’m talking to the press and traveling, giving all-hands presentations to various teams, interviewing candidates or leading brainstorming sessions. It’s the perfect job for a generalist.
I’m up about 6am. Grind some beans, load up the French press, and watch the morning news with my wife and children. I love to open the back doors and just let the early morning air blow into the house. On alternate days I pack the kids’ lunches and walk them to school. Then I jump on my Vespa and weave my way across LA to Westwood where eHarmony is located.
My first activity every day is crafting my calendar. I sit with a print out of my meetings and sketch in new items, move things around, make sure I schedule some time to breathe and eat. The day is really won or lost in that 15 minute planning session. John Wooden said, “Make every day your masterpiece,” and I think that is brilliant advice that I try to follow, but if I do a poor job structuring the day…the odds are pretty low it’s going to be a masterpiece.
The flow of work that comes to my desk is a never-ending stream. There’s no, “Well OK, I’ve cleaned out my box and I’m done for the day.” You work until you’re tired, and you go home. That’s it. It’s important that I’m good at my job tomorrow, the next day and the day after that, so I have to end each day in a way that leaves me with enough mojo to show up strong and determined the next day. Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
I ride home, eat with my family, and have some time with them before the kids go to bath and bed. By 8:30pm, I’m off to a rehearsal, or a songwriting session or some other music event. If I can be in bed by midnight, I’ll be good as gold the next day.
What are your work life balance goals?
My goal is really to consistently perform at a high level in the areas of life that are important to me. That sounds like I’m shooting for Olympic gold, but it’s a subtle approach I’m taking. I’m rarely trying to win some prize that is awarded by an outside entity. I’m a big believer in the stoic philosophy of only being focused on the things that you control. I can’t control whether people use eHarmony, but I can drive our staff to make our apps work better, match better, and be easier to use. If we do those things consistently, we’ll help people find quality relationships and be successful as a company. I set goals that are a challenge, but within my power to achieve and try not to worry about the rest.
To be truly effective in my role as leader of this company, I need to spend time with my children. I need to get up into the mountains on my motorcycle. I need to make music that feels authentic and honest. I have to exercise and stay physically strong. Stephen Covey used to call those things, “sharpening the saw”. If you’re going to work every day with a dull saw, you’re probably not doing anyone any good.
How do you meet those goals?
For me, the trick is this: If I’m doing different kinds of things, the fact that I’m busy and engaged most of the time doesn’t exhaust my energy, it feeds it. Balance is just about my willingness to plan and think of a way to fit it all in. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that sometimes the number one thing on my list is laying in the backyard and reading a book. Truth be told, however, I’m pretty intentional about that as well. It’s just the way I’m built.
How has your work life balance changed throughout the years? And what has caused those shifts?
In my 20’s, I kept a diary every day of what I was doing. I look back at it now and see how sparse it was. I was playing in bands and trying to make a music career come together. I used to dream about being busy, because I could not get arrested. The shifts in work/life balance have happened as opportunity has arisen. Would you like to do a podcast? “Yes, I would!” That’s how life happens. After saying yes for a few years you turn around, and you’re extremely busy. It’s important to remember what it felt like to be trying so hard to get noticed or create some success. Being bored is far worse for me than being busy.
I can remember in my 20’s being in the grip of a terrible depression. I went to see a psychologist, and after getting to know me some she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was working as a clerk in a blueprint factory. I told her that my real passion was making music, and I just wanted an undemanding day-job to make money for expenses. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “This is why you’re depressed.” She told me that I was underemployed and that my brain was desperate for a challenge. She told me that I had plenty of mental and physical energy to work an engaging job in the daytime and play music at night. It completely changed my life.
Of course, having children is a seismic shift in priorities. I have to travel and take care of business obligations, because money has a role to play in the success I want these children to have through education, etc. But I always tell myself, I’m the only father these kids are ever going to have. If I don’t give them the gift of my time, is money ever really going to make up for that?
It can be hard to balance these competing ideas, but I also want my children to know me… as I am. Not some faded version of Grant. That’s why it’s important that I keep doing the things that make life vivid for me, and give me joy. I want them to know that I am a songwriter and a performer. I want them to see that joy in me, and to know that adulthood isn't some slog. It's a time to live your dreams.
Work life balance is so important for the children in a family, but it is also crucial for a marriage! Since it is romance awareness month, do you have any tips for balancing career, kids, and the marriage?
People like to say, “Marriage takes work.” I think that’s crazy. Marriage takes attention. Going to Santa Barbara with my wife for the weekend, walking around holding hands, and sleeping in isn't work. It’s effort and attention, but it’s a pleasure. I’m sure you’ve seen the object lesson with the sand and the rocks. The rocks are the big priorities of life — family, art, saw sharpening, business opportunities. The sand are the little things. Watching TV for example -- if you fill your jar with sand, there’s no room for anything else. If you fill it with rocks first, there’s plenty of room for sand.
My best advice for work and family is simple...
When I’m at work. I’M AT WORK! I don’t chat with my wife or friends at work. I go at it with a focus and organization. But when work is over…I’M NOT WORKING! This is a goal that doesn’t always happen, but I try to keep work from ruining time with my wife and children. I’m also married to someone who understands what I’m doing and gives me a lot of positive reinforcement for making the effort.
I want to extend a sincere, “Thank you!” to Grant for taking the time to share his experiences and thoughts with us. I found his answers moving and inspirational, and I plan to implement some of these nuggets of wisdom into my own life. And be sure to share this article with a fellow parent who could benefit from this as well!