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Former Sonic exec Moore: A healthy work-life balance not only keeps you sane, but also can advance your career

Former Sonic exec Moore: A healthy work-life balance not only keeps you sane, but also can advance your career

Pattye Moore stepped down as president of Sonic Corp. in 2004 for family reasons, but she was also burned out. She had been promoted from vice president after 10 years of directing the advertising and marketing strategies for the Oklahoma City-based drive-in chain. A year after her resignation, a close professional friend of hers, Scott Aylward, also quit his job as chief executive of Barkley Evergreen and Partners, the ad agency that handled Sonic’s account. He too admitted to burnout. Realizing they had similar leadership styles and philosophies, they collaborated on a book that was published earlier this month, “Confessions from the Corner Office: 15 Instincts That Will Help You Get There.” The two also started Instincts LLC, a consulting firm for leadership development. Moore spoke with NRN recently about her career.

What are some of the myths about career advancement?

One of the things you always hear is business is not personal. We contend business is very personal. It’s OK to let people know you have a life and to be interested in employees’ lives.

But didn’t you struggle to keep family and business issues separate?

We’re very candid at saying we failed. One reason both of us quit in our 40s was burnout. It was a huge issue, being able to manage my family issues, but it was partly easier for me to walk away because I was tired. I was very burned out. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Why not?

We were big on encouraging employees to take vacation time, but we didn’t practice what we preached. Had I taken all my vacation time, had I gone to my daughter’s soccer game without my BlackBerry, I still would have made it to the corner office and been more rested and stayed there longer.

How can an executive on the fast track keep things balanced?

Put as much energy into planning for personal events as you would in a business presentation. We’ve seen colleagues who schedule date nights with spouses and who don’t take their BlackBerry on vacation. I don’t think that hurts your career.

There are times when you’re pitching a new business or new merger, and you need to work 90 hours a week. But not always. I would go to my daughter’s soccer game, and when a franchisee or someone would call, I’d go back behind the bleachers to take it. It was more crowded under the bleachers than on the bleachers. We were self-important parents who had to answer those calls. We would argue we were all at the game. Wrong. We weren’t all at the game. We missed the goal, we missed that important kick. Just how important was that call?

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