How to harmonize your work and home life: an interview with a fintech executive
Lance Haffner has 20 years’ experience in human resources, business and leadership. He is currently Heartland’s Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer. He was previously Heartland’s President of Payroll and Vice President of Human Resources. Before joining Heartland, he held HR leadership roles in the energy business, including VP of HR for Patterson-UTI. Patterson acquired Seventy Seven Energy, a spin-off of Chesapeake Energy where Lance spent 11 years in a variety of HR leadership roles.
Balancing family, work, free-time and friends — the pace of modern life can get anyone down. Heartland’s Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer Lance Haffner sat down with us to explain why work-life balance is a thing of the past and the strategies he uses to stay happy and healthy at work and at home in seasons of stress, ease and everything in between.
Heartland: Thanks so much for sitting down with us, Lance. As a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in HR, business and leadership, I can imagine work-life balance is a topic you’ve discussed a time or two before?
Lance Haffner: Without a doubt! Burnout and this idea of trying to balance the facets of your life to include family, friends, work, philanthropy, your hobbies and whatever else you may have going on, it isn’t a new concept — if it was, there wouldn’t be over 10,000 results on Amazon when you search “work life balance.” In my 20 plus years as an entrepreneur, individual contributor, mid-level manager and an executive leader, I’ve not only personally experienced the challenge of managing your life and attempting to balance the many (and a lot of the times, competing) elements of it, but I’ve also observed it across thousands of colleagues and team members.
Heartland: To your point, Lance, it’s not unusual to hear people of every age and circumstance say they’re “juggling too many plates” or “when it rains, it pours.” Why do you think that is?
Lance: Without realizing it, many people think of these segments of their life as completely separate, like they compete in a zero-sum game: if my personal life is requiring additional time and focus that means my work life must suffer, and vice versa. But I don’t think it has to be that way, in fact, there’s a much better option.
Heartland: We’re on the edge of our seats. What do you aim for, if not work-life balance?
Lance: I aim for work-life harmony — where one part of your life isn't taking from the other but rather, framing and doing things in a way where it flows together, much like the harmony of a song accompanies the melody. In the age of technology and accessibility, your personal life doesn’t end when you step into the office in the morning (whether in an office building or in your home). Your work life doesn’t abruptly end when you walk out the business’ door in the evening.
Heartland: Isn’t it amazing how mindset can really affect how you feel about it? Let’s focus on that last point, though — leveraging technology to get the most out of your energy. Can you give us an example of what this looks like in action?
Lance: Sure! At a prior company, I was the executive HR leader and the company was going through bankruptcy. I found out about a mandatory meeting I needed to attend with our attorneys…which just so happened to be scheduled during a long-awaited lake trip with friends. So what I’d do? I took the call from the lake, even part of it while on the dock! Afterwards, a few of my friends commented how unfair it was that I had to work, especially when I had scheduled the trip way in advance. I didn’t see it that way, though — I told them, “I’m actually pretty lucky! A few years ago, I would’ve been forced to cancel this entire trip. Now all I have to do is dial in and after an hour or two, I was back to enjoying the trip.”
Heartland: Interesting. So instead of strict “balance,” you go with the flow when work and life blend. It sounds great in theory…but isn’t it hard to maintain in practice?
Lance: Like I mentioned previously, it takes an intentional mindset shift. It’s so easy to get in a cycle of stress: you’ve got a packed meeting schedule, you’re on a big project deadline, you’re volunteering for a fundraiser and you need to hustle the kids to a doctor’s appointment right after lunch.
Before you let the calendar and to-do list overwhelm you — or instead of deciding your day is a failure should everything not go as planned — think about the opportunities in front of you and the range of outcomes you'd be comfortable with. Could you knock out emails from the doctor’s waiting room? If the appointment runs late, could you get in some uninterrupted working time for your project at home after the kids are asleep? Perhaps you work from home for the day since the doctor’s office is closer to home than the office. Leverage flexibility, technology and time to make the day work for you.
Heartland: Okay, it makes sense that flexibility is key in harmonizing your life. But doesn’t that make it feel like everything is up in the air all the time? Is there a place for structure?
Lance: Sure it can! Routines are a huge part of how I maintain tranquility in my life. My daily morning workouts keep me regulated and ready to take on the day. They help clear my mind and stay both mentally and physically tuned to give my best self. But it’s different for everyone. Some people prefer meditating, reading or playing team sports. Create a routine that works for you, schedule time for that routine just like you would any other important thing and then protect that time.
Blending my work and private life sounds really messy and uncomfortable.
Heartland: Let’s say someone is out there reading this thinking, “Blending my work and private life sounds really messy and uncomfortable.” What advice would you give to someone who’s skeptical about trying this out?
Lance: I hear this a lot. For me, it’s about setting proper expectations for myself. Uncomfortable doesn’t equal unhappy. Most things in life require moments of uncomfortability, and those moments can occur frequently. Think of a marathon, or any endurance sport, really. You’ll be uncomfortable at times as you work toward achieving your goal, but the achievement is worth it. I’d encourage you to accept that uncomfortability exists and embrace it when it happens. Reframe it as a moment that’s occurred on your way to the work-life harmony goal vs. something messy that leads to unhappiness.
Heartland: Is there anything else you’d like to share that’s made adopting work-life harmony easier in your own life? Or other advice business owners reading this could benefit from?
Lance: Yes. It’s important to celebrate and acknowledge your successes — even the little ones. Relishing in the outcome and success of your effort will give you momentum and energy to keep going. Lastly, give it a chance! It takes time to harmonize your life and adapt to a different approach. And, let’s be honest, old habits die hard. Don’t give up the first time your attempt to harmonize falters, try it again and again. I’m proof that it can work.
Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at heartland.us