Mixing Work with Life Makes Existence Inspiring

Choosing work over life, or life over work, is the wrong approach, says Ruth Porat, the former chief financial officer at Morgan Stanley and the new CFO at Google.

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Choosing work over life, or life over work, is the wrong approach, says Ruth Porat, the former chief financial officer at Morgan Stanley and the new CFO at Google. It's more important to maintain a mixture that allows change to take place over time, she says, meaning that sometimes life is the priority and other times work gets the majority of our attention.

If anyone would know about creating a mixture of life and work, it's Porat. Married for 27 years with three children, she credits her business success to the joy that comes with having a family. And her recent ascension to the heights of Google is Big Think Edge's case-in-point.

"If you’re just focused on work, my view is that you’ll never get enough back from any organization no matter how fantastic the role is and you have to have a full life, so that you really get enriched in a lot of different ways and that can be family and kids. It can be for others sports. ... And the main thing for me is it’s not about having balance; it’s about having mix."

Porat accepted her new CFO position after Google's former financial chief Patrick Pichette released "a most unconventional leaving notice", according to CEO Larry Page. In it, he consciously chooses a life of travel to a life centered on work at Google. As a man nearing the age of retirement and having dedicated 30 years to professional labors, that's certainly his prerogative. But Porat warns such drastic decisions can come with unintended consequences:

"A number of my friends chose to step out of the workplace [and] several years later when their kids were off at school they said they had a big void and they were frustrated they had given up a career. And so they substituted one extreme for another in this search for balance and what is really important is finding a mix and that mix will change throughout one’s life."

Once called the most powerful woman on Wall Street, Porat now joins a tech industry in Silicon Valley that is infamous for its gender inequality, especially among levels of upper management. She will be tasked with advancing Google's unique mixture of advertising revenue and unusual investments in products like self-driving cars and space rockets. She is expected to encourage the company to accept more financial support from outside investors. We wish her luck in her new position.

Learn more about Big Think Edge.

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