Bernie Borges | CEO Work Life Balance | Midlife Fulfilled Podcast

Ep 159 Work-Life Balance for CEOs Who Want to Thrive in Family and Business

This episode explores the necessity of a balanced work culture for CEOs and their teams, advocating for a sustainable approach to success.

My latest takeaway episode features my conversation with Walter Paulsen in episode 158. Walter Paulsen is a seasoned executive with a passion for coaching and mentoring other CEOs and founders as a Vistage Chair and Coach. We discussed why CEOs should prioritize a work-life balance for a sustainable business growth plan and more healthy family life.

Three of our key discussion points are:

1️⃣ The power of peer-level CEO coaching.
2️⃣ The CEO journey in Silicon Valley
3️⃣ The quest for balance

In this episode, I share my own personal experience living and working in Silicon Valley for ten years where I experienced the 24/7 work culture firsthand.

I entered the workforce in 1980 and for as long as I can remember, success has been defined by money, title, power, and status. Unfortunately, this is as true today as it was in 1980, and I’m sure it was true long before I entered the workforce. 

I grew up in NYC. My first job was with a technical training and consulting firm located in Manhattan. I was in sales. About two years into my tenure, the company opened a sales office in San Francisco and I raised my hand when they asked for volunteers to relocate to SF to work in the new sales office. I was 24 years old, single and care free. To me, it was a great opportunity to start a new chapter in my life. The company bought my one-way ticket to SF and off I went for this new chapter in my life. 

The office location was actually south of San Francisco, in San Bruno. This part of the Bay Area is known as the peninsula. It is also known as Silicon Valley. Fun trivia fact. The name “Silicon Valley” originates from the silicon used in transistors and computer chips, which were pioneered in this part of California south of San Francisco, known as a valley because it was surrounded by a bay on the east side and the ocean on the west side. This area in California became a hub for companies specializing in the production of silicon-based semiconductors and microprocessors, which led to its association with high technology and innovation. Over the years, companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, HP, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, LinkedIn and many other technology firms were founded in this area, employing tens of thousands of people. 

I lived and worked in Silicon Valley for 10 years. The work culture in Silicon Valley was very intense. I’ve always said it was more intense than working in NYC. You heard Walter on episode 158 explain it. Sentiments like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” were common. The expectation was you worked 24/7 and this was before the modern digital age of the internet and mobile phones. Prior to the modern digital age, working meant you were at the office. It was not uncommon for people to sleep under their desk at the office, especially when they were under a deadline of releasing a new version of a technology product. The pressure to release new versions of a product by a certain date was immense. 

I remember I used to wince at the vicious, never ending cycle. As soon as one product version was released, the next version was right behind it. No time to celebrate. It was just all about working to release the next version over and over again. 

Why would people work this hard? The prize was twofold. The tangible prize was money. Most employees at SV high tech firms were granted stock options as part of their compensation. Thousands upon thousands of employees became millionaires when their stock vested at companies whose values skyrocketed, like the ones I mentioned earlier as well as other tech companies whose names may not be household names.

The other prize is less tangible. There was a badge of honor for those who persevered through the 24/7 work culture. But, the badge of honor was closely correlated to the financial prize. After all, there wasn’t much of a badge of honor for working 24/7 without a financial prize to show for it. For many people, their external badge of honor was their shiny new BMW in the parking lot. That saddens me. But, it’s true.  

Walter is openly advocating for more balance in the CEO’s role, not just for the CEO. Yes, for the CEO, but importantly for all the people that report up to the CEO. Think about it, if the CEO demands 24/7 from his direct reports, they’re going to demand it from their direct reports. This creates, not one unhealthy life, but many unhealthy lives. 

Walter is advocating for balance for CEOs so they can build a sustainable work culture that supports a healthy work culture. Where people aren’t expect to respond to email at 11 pm at night. Where people can enjoy healthy relationships with their loved ones, make time for exercise, take vacations and maintain a healthy blood pressure. These healthy habits enable people to do good work that is fulfilling, and also rewarding because they can ship new versions without working 24/7. 

This healthy balance is needed in all industries. The 24/7 work culture is not limited to SV. It’s prevalent in the financial industry too. While it may not be as common in smaller businesses, it does exist there too. 

I admire Walter’s mission. The book he is writing has potential to impact CEOs and their staffs across many industries. The way I look at it, some relationships may survive because of the impact of Walter’s forthcoming book on balance in the C-suite.

My challenge to you is this. Who do you know that struggles with an imbalance in their work culture? Even if it’s not a 24/7 culture, do you know someone who would be well served to find more balance in their life? If you do, please share this episode with them, or the previous episode with Walter Paulsen. My hope is that your friend will be inspired to find the balance they need resulting in a healthier life for them, and for their family.  

🔥 My affiliate link to Castmagic, which I used to help produce these show notes. 🔥

Take My 2 Question Survey: Free Midlife Mastery Online Club

Connect with Walter Paulsen:

Watch this episode on YouTube

Click or tap here to download the 5-Step Career Reboot Checklist.

The Midlife Career Reboot Workbook

Midlife Fulfilled Podcast Page on LinkedIn

Subscribe & Listen On

Connect with Bernie Borges

Rate & Review

Music Attribution
Scott Holmes Music
Eyes Wide Shut
Old Bossa Twin Musicom

You Deserve a Fulfilled Midlife

Unlock Your Free Guide to Thriving in Midlife

By reserving your copy, you’ll also be entered into a drawing to be a featured guest on the Midlife Fulfilled podcast.


The Midlife Career Reboot Workbook

Subscribe & Listen on

Get the Midlife Fulfilled Podcast
Delivered to Your Inbox

Each episode is curated with love.

Your information is 100% secure and will never be shared with anyone. You can unsubscribe at any time.