Balancing Life’s Issues with CEO Wendy Kaufman on The Business Spotlight P1

Balancing Life’s Issues with CEO Wendy Kaufman on The Business Spotlight CEO Wendy Kaufman was on The Business Spotlight TV show in Dallas this week talking about how her national corporate training company with over 1400 trainers is influencing the culture of many companies to increase productivity.  Wendy has her Masters in Industrial Psychology and has more than 20 years doing Keynotes and training on everything from Leadership Training, Team Building and Emotional Intelligence to How to Live Take the Car Keys from Your Parent.  Her army of trainers speak and teach all over the country to increase the productivity of companies by delivering high value training that is very Edutaining.

Here is the transcript of the show:

Patrick:  Welcome to the Business Spotlight. I’m Patrick Dougher, and today’s show I think you’ll really find it an exception. Recently, I was listening to the radio and that song Cats in the Cradle came on and I thought, “Man, have I done a good enough job raising my son? Does he look at me and think ‘I want to be like him’? Is that going to be the right kind of character?”

Today’s guest is Wendy Kaufman. Wendy is the CEO and founder of Balancing Life’s Issues. She has literally created a group of over a thousand trainers around the U.S. that talk to corporations that speak for keynotes, trainings on the whole issues of balancing life’s issues. Wendy, thanks so much for being on the show.    

Wendy:  You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Patrick:  I’m really excited about this show because I want to get into your story. When I think about the foundation of this, I’ve heard a little bit and I thought, man, you really invested. You paid a great price. Tell me about the start of this.

Wendy:  Certainly it has been that trials and tribulations of my life. I often joke about that in all of our sessions and certainly with my trainers. I do have a degree in industrial psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. I actually wrote my thesis on dual career relationships, and so even then I knew how hard it was going to be to make a relationship work. That was certainly 30 years ago.

I then took a little bit of a break, and I was a stay-at-home mom that did some part-time work and got divorced. At that moment, in time I remember thinking you have to go to work, you’ve got to raise the kids, and really, truly does your boss care, does your employer care and how hard that was. And that’s when Balancing Life’s Issues was founded.

I am thrilled at not just the success of all my trainers but the success that the companies know that they do care about their employees. They really care about their health and their happiness, and that’s what we do.

Patrick:  You worked with every size corporation, but the thing that was really interesting is the number of Fortune 500 companies that have brought you in to help their people balance their lives. As I understand it, you guys do everything from executive leadership training, team building, all the way to what else?

Wendy:  Anything you can think of. Elder care – when my dad was sick, I learned firsthand what it’s like to be in family generation, having kids in college, caring for someone who’s very ill, what was that like, and having to go to work with that. Anything from a traditional leadership class which you might think of, but also really thinking about how do I talk to my kids about sex, drugs and alcohol? How do I deal with an aging parent? How do I take the car keys away from my mom? These are things that people are worried about, and they need help.

Patrick:  Like I say, a lot of these came out of just your life and then you began to talk about it, people began to hire you to do more of that. But how did it spread beyond in a sense most corporations, companies that are CEO and founder, now they have over a thousand people that work with you, how did that happened?

Wendy:  I really have to say organically. I think that there were many things that were right and there were many things that were in place and certainly we are a country, we care. We have a lot of compassion and we have a lot of good feelings. People will say to me, “I’m worried about this. This is my passion. This is what I’m thinking.” We’ll create a seminar on it, and inevitably it sells. Employers will say, “Tell me what’s going to make my employee more productive.” Everything comes under the umbrella of engaging, educational, meaningful seminars.

Patrick:  That’s it.

Wendy:  Yes.

Patrick:  But when you even select somebody, I know that you have a selection process that’s unique. Tell me about that.

Wendy:  It’s interesting because it’s always important to know your knowledge base. I certainly look at credentials, schooling, education, and I value that. I certainly know how much I learned from my master’s degree. But quite frankly, I’m a mom to three and a stepmom to two more. That’s what taught me my parenting skills. I have a lot of certifications, but being a mom to five, that’s where I got it.

We’re looking for people to tell me, what is their experience with the topic? Quit smoking seminars – tell me when you stopped smoking. How much did you smoke? What was the story like? I want to be able to relate to the person in the front of the room. Tell me that you understand the world that I was in, and then I can make some changes.

Patrick:  What I’m hearing, though, is that you’re not letting anybody just get up and say something. They actually have to have what I call “the mantel of authority” that they purchased the wisdom firsthand, paid the full tilt – that kind of thing.

Wendy:  Now, Patrick, we have a totally different thing because now you’re talking about, I need the educational background, then I need the story – and here’s the thing – now I’m going to have to be able to deliver it.

When we find trainers, they’ve got to engage me, and they’ve got to engage me in 30 seconds or less. I can listen to their phone message and know whether they’re going to connect with an audience or not.

Patrick:  That’s really great. But the thing that I’m curious about is the things that you’re doing. I know you’ve done radio with other places, let’s put it that way. But you’ve done radio, you’re an article writer for a number of very top-notch and big name news organizations. What else are you doing?

Wendy:  When I blog or when I write, it’s always my story or my soapbox. It’s really this idea of, what is the message I want to give out? What’s going on right now? My big soapbox right now is if you’re going to talk about work-life balance, I want to know what your work-life balance is. I want to know what your family consists of. I want to know what your work consists of.

Unfortunately, like every career, we have a lot of people on the soapbox that have work-life balance with no families and maybe no career, so why am I going to listen to them?

Patrick:  I’d say you can only reproduce what you produced. I’ve known leaders that I literally had to say, “I can’t use you in this position because what you’re experiencing, what you’re walking in is chaos, so what are you going to produce in this body?”

Wendy:  That’s exactly right.

Patrick:  We’ve got to go to a break. This is the Business Spotlight, I’m Pat Dougher. We’ll be right back.


Welcome to the Business Spotlight. This is the second segment, and we’re talking about Balancing Life’s Issues. If you’re a solopreneur, an entrepreneur, a CEO, or just somebody that works as an employee and you are spending way too much of your life’s energy on your business and your family is getting stepped on, then you need to listen in.

Wendy Kaufman, CEO-founder of Balancing Life’s Issues, tell me a little bit more about what you guys are doing to create the massive success you’re delivering to the companies around the country?

Wendy:  I’ve trademarked my five-bucket system, which is this idea that we now know what a balanced person looks like. We have done a massive amount of research over three decades, and so we know there are these five buckets.

  1. Everyone needs to have some kind of family and friends. They’ve got to have a bucket of other people – we’re humans; we need to have socialization.
  2. We have to have some sort of work, paid or not, it doesn’t matter, but intellectual stimulation.
  3. We’ve got to take care of our bodies, our health.
  4. We have to take care of our money because at the end of the day we worry a lot about finances. That’s really important.
  5. The last bucket you can call community or spirituality, but it means we’re good people, that we care about people around us.

Everything we do is under those five buckets. All of our seminars – which are probably 400+ – come under those buckets.

Patrick:  When you talk about the different seminars, what kind of delivery mechanisms do you use?

Wendy:  How lucky are we today? We can do them on-site, we can do them on the phone, we can do them on the Web, we can do them via podcast, we can do them over the Internet, we can do them through the intranet – really whatever kind we want. I was with a client this morning, and we recorded it. I was with another client yesterday, and we did it like a radio show so everyone got to call in their questions.

If it’s an immediate response to something like the bombing in Boston or September 11th which were very active, we need to have a platform where people can say, “I’m worried. I’m worried about my kids. I’m worried about my spouse,” and we provide that platform. The imagination sets no limits. I’ve done them in parks, on picnic tables. I’ve done them all over the place.

Patrick:  And your trainers all do the same sort of thing – hyper-engaged, very entertaining or “edutaining” is the word that I’d like to say.

Wendy:  I love that.

Patrick:  When you put on these things, what’s the net effect? What do the people really get out of that experience?

Wendy:  That’s my real point of contention. Is there something that you’re going to walk away doing differently? If it’s nutrition class, it may be something as simple as switching from whole milk to almond milk that can make a world of difference. It can be one simple, small takeaway that can truly change your life. Maybe it’s a relationship one, which has been popular now, about just being a nice person. It sounds so easy to be a nice person, but all of us have complicated mornings.

I have a sick dog. My oldest son is very worried about that. My younger son couldn’t find a job. Then my husband will come home and say something that may tweak me. How am I going to be nice when all this is going on and my boss wants ten new proposals? We really teach people how to handle that with the real life that’s happening at the same time.

Patrick:  I’m sitting here trying to think of all the things that you guys are delivering. It sounds like when you get into a company, they have the ability to bring you back over and over and over again, don’t they?

Wendy:  Yes. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for relationships like we have with our clients where we’ve been there for 25 years. I’ve watched their families, I’ve watched their children grow up, I’ve watched them get married, go off – all the processes that have happened in their life transitions, we’ve been there. It’s a relationship. It’s a place for employees to say, “I’m worried about this. Can you help me?” We can work through their employee assistance program, we can work through their work-life provider, or we can work directly with the client – whatever the client’s wants.

Patrick:  That’s excellent. When I think about what you guys are creating, it’s funny but you don’t have to touch everybody or you don’t have to change the whole culture. In my past, I watched a company change its whole dynamics and its whole culture with just 10%. Have you seen that?

Wendy:  Oh, absolutely. I’ve even seen it with less. I’ve seen it with being able to identify the Debby Downer or the real Negative Ned, the cynic in the room. We love those cynics in the room; bring it on.

The best thing about what we do is we do get a good do-over every day. I have to tell you, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I am still as naïve and hopeful as I was 30 years ago, that people change. They want to change. They want to feel happier.

Isn’t it amazing that one of the most popular courses at Harvard is about unhappiness? We now know, what do we need to do to feel happier? And we can teach people that skill just the way they’re doing in other countries, by the way. We’re playing catch-up here in America.

Patrick:  Where else are they doing this sort of thing? That’s news to me.

Wendy:  I came from a trip in China, and I was amazed at how astute they were on the philosophies of positive psychology and happiness. They’ve studied in England. There’s a country in the faraway Himalayans called Bhutan which is governed on happiness. We are really playing catch-up in this country, and there are organizations that we’ve partnered with to make sure that we’re teaching our kids to be happy. What’s more important than that?

Patrick:  How would you partnership with other organizations? How does that come about?

Wendy:  Maybe it’s a book series, a tape series, or a guest speaker for a company. It’s really about, what’s going to make the employees the most engaged when they’re at work? Whoever we need to partner with to get them there is what we do.

Patrick:  Awesome. As we go into this next few segments, one of the things that you’re going to enjoy is we’ll talk more about the ideal client for Wendy Kaufman. Really, you should be listening for, do I fit in that box or can I get one of Wendy’s trainers in our company? Because balancing life’s issues, well quite honestly, I think our culture has been warped as we look at where things are right now.

This is Pat Dougher. The Business Spotlight is all about you telling your story in the marketplace. We’ll be right back.


Welcome back to the Business Spotlight. I’m Pat Dougher. Today we’re talking about Balancing Life’s Issues. Wendy Kaufman is a CEO and founder of Balancing Life’s Issues, and she’s bringing a great deal of information about how you can get the right bricks in the right place, the right rocks in the jar.

Wendy:  Yes, everybody knows that one. That will work. I never want to say “the right” because I often really joke that I’m the most perfectly imperfect person, and I look for that. I look for the mistakes I’ve made because certainly they’re the ones that have gotten me to the next level.

One award that my company got, I joked that I need to thank my ex-husband because if it wasn’t for my divorce, I don’t know if I would’ve done that. I really look forward to the mistakes that I’ve made. I think we learn from, not just our mistakes, but from everybody else’s mistakes.

Patrick:  I think what’s also really important is that you’re coming out there as a human, not as a “Barbie” or a doll kind of thing, a plastic figurine that has this mask. You show up and this is me. This is the way I always am.  

Wendy:  I think what’s interesting about that is we want to be reminded – certainly I know I want to be reminded – about how one little thing can change everything.

When I was first divorced, I had three little kids, very little money, and people would say, “You don’t have time to date.” The best thing I did was start dating early on. It was bartering for people to watch my kids for half an hour, to take a ten-minute break to meet my husband who I love and adore now.

It doesn’t take a lot to make our lives better. It’s not about that next big paycheck. It’s really about, have you volunteered at a soup kitchen one day a month? Have you done one small thing that’s truly going to open up every door for you? Have you lost five pounds? Have you started exercising? One small change that’s going to make everything fall in place.

Patrick:  That is so important because it doesn’t have to be herbal liposuction where one pill changes you. It’s really about that step that enters you on the journey, right?

Wendy:  So true.

Patrick:  I know we’ve talked a little bit before and I know you do a lot of work for the Fortune 500. What are some of the things that they should expect from you? Maybe I should stop and say it this way. Who is the ideal client? What should they expect?

Wendy:  It’s interesting because that’s been a journey for me. I used to think it was just big clients with a lot of employees. We’ve recently done a session for just a father and a son company where they just were not connecting. It’s this teeny, small two-person.