How to Integrate Work and Life from Salesforce’s Woman of the Month

By Sarah Boutin

Forget the trying to balance work and life. These days, it’s all about blending them.

Meet Carie Buchanan, Regional Vice President of Customer and Sales Growth at Salesforce. Buchanan joined our Atlanta office in 2012 with over twenty years of experience in sales, customer service, and marketing, and has taken a hands-on approach to leading her customers and team to success ever since.

When she’s not in the office, you can find Buchanan playing tennis, planning her next trip, and (more often than not) cheering her kids on at some sporting event. With three very active young children, it didn’t take Buchanan long to realize that separating her work life and family life just wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, Buchanan shifted her approach and chose to trade “work/life balance” for “work/life integration.” Here, our Woman of the Month explains what it means and how to make it work for you.

Change Your Mindset

I don’t believe in balancing work and life, but view it more like integrating them together. It’s not about setting hard boundaries and leading two separate lives. If I need to take a work call during my personal time, I do. If I need to take a moment for my family during my “work” time, I do. We are all individuals, with many facets and interests and priorities, and should feel comfortable and empowered to be that person all the time.

Let Your Life Improve Your Work

Learning how to be a parent has greatly improved my performance at work, particularly as a manager. Having patience, using good listening skills, providing guidance, and being supportive are invaluable skills I’ve gained as a mother that I try to leverage on the job. Whatever you do in your personal life, whether it’s being a parent, playing in a band, or participating in a sport, make sure to use those skills (like compassion, creativity, or competition) to your advantage in the workplace.

Ask for What You Want

You can accomplish anything if you let people know your goals, ask for help to achieve them, and keep the right people posted on your progress. As women, we are often afraid to speak up and ask for what we want, but if you can find the right support and build the right business case — and put in the effort to prove yourself — I believe people will help you get to where you want to be. For me, working part-time for awhile was very important when my children were little. I was really surprised how supportive people were when I finally asked for it.

Sing Your Own Praises

Make others aware of the great things you do. Many women worry this might come across as bragging, but at the end of day, just because you are good at what you do doesn’t mean others know about it. Take time to network, build relationships outside the office, and speak freely about your accomplishments, both professionally and personally. That way, when opportunities come up, people will think of you first!

Forget Perfection

I once read a hilarious book, “Forget Perfect,” all about how we add unneeded pressure on ourselves to impress others, and that instead we should surround ourselves with people who don’t need to be impressed. As a mother, I’ve come to peace with not being a “super” mom — I just do the best I can with both my family and my job. My kids and friends are fine with my not-so-perfect house, takeout dinners, store-bought cupcakes, and the many mistakes I make. And you know what? So am I.

The Salesforce Woman of the Month campaign turns the spotlight on the amazing women who help make Salesforce the World’s Most Innovative Company (according to Forbes) and one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For. Honorees are nominated by fellow employees and selected by a dedicated committee that works to ensure a variety of roles and regions are honored.

To hear more from Carie Buchanan, make sure to connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn. And stay tuned for more career tips and tools for success from our next Salesforce Woman of the Month, coming your way next month.

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