Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women (and now, one man!) talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview.

SPECIAL NOTE: I heard about Nigel Marsh when a prior Balance Project interviewee, Cara Lemieux, a journalist and managing editor of ShriverReport.org, sent me his TED talk called “How to make work-life balance work.” I loved the talk so I wrote about Nigel on The Balance Blog. And then I contacted him and asked him to be the first male interviewee for The Balance Project. I was so thrilled when he said YES! It’s about time The Balance Project featured a man’s perspective…

No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur

Age: 50
Where I live:
 Sydney, Australia
Job: Author, Founder of The Sydney Skinny, Chairman of The Leading Edge
Ages/genders of kids: Two boys (Harry, 16 and Alex, 19) and two girls (Grace and Eve, both 14)

Standing- JPG 4.88MB-MediumIs the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Different one. When I turned 40 I decided to try and change my life. Completely. I gave up drink, lost enormous amounts of weight, and stopped pretending. Stopped pretending I believed things I didn’t and stopped pretending I didn’t believe things I did. I’m still on this journey every day. It’s described in my first book Fat, Forty and Fired.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Realistic. Just not all at the same time! One’s definition of “all” is extremely important here. To me “all” doesn’t mean having no problems or struggles. I am by no means perfect, and I have huge challenges to face (hello – 4 kids!), but I sincerely believe I have it all. And for that I give thanks everyday.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
How to regularly take part in a team sport that fits around my domestic responsibilities and 50-year-old knees.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Being a meaningful and valued support for my elderly mother who lives on her own.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? 
“You can judge a man by what he does after 6 p.m.”
From your kids? 
Couple of years ago I had to go to New York to give a speech and moaned to my elder son, “Bloody hell, Alex, I have got to go to New York at the weekend.” He rolled his eyes and said, “Dad, you are looking at it all wrong—change one letter: you get to go to New York.”

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That listening is an act of love.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
Having written Fat, Forty and Fired when I turned 40 and Fit, Fifty and Fired Up when I turned 50, I hope to know that I was correct to write Slim, Sixty and Sexy not Sad, Sixty and Single when I turned 60!

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Paying for it.

Whose job do you wish you had?
No desire for anyone else’s job (or life). I love mine exactly as it is—struggle, imperfections, and all.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
The 39-year-old me.

Favorite books?
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

What are you reading right now?
Brain: The Man Who Wrote The Book That Changed The World by Dermot Davis.

Biggest website vice?
The Philosophers Mail.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?

What do you read every morning?
The riot act to my twin teenage daughters.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Life expands or contracts in direct proportion to one’s courage.”  

Anything else you’d like to add?
Words to live by:
Meaning is not something you stumble across, meaning is something you should build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experiences of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.

UnknownAbout Nigel:
Nigel Marsh is best known for his creative pursuits. As well as the author of three books: Fat, Forty and Fired, Overworked and Underlaid, and Fit, Fifty and Fired Uphe is also the co-founder of Earth Hour and the founder of the Sydney Skinny, a nude ocean swim. His first book is currently being developed into a major TV series in America.

The other side to Nigel is his 25-year career in branding and marketing. Over that time Nigel has worked with a huge variety of organizations, from the highest profile (McDonald’s, Canon, Pepsi, P&G, Virgin, Mars, Fiat, Colgate), to national governments and local enterprises. Whether dealing with big business issues or social engineering, Nigel has produced and managed campaigns to address almost every challenge imaginable. This experience has given him strong views on effective marketing and, in particular, effective leadership and team building. Nigel was Regional Group CEO of Y&R Brands ANZ as well as CEO of Leo Burnett.

sydney-skinny-event-logo Highly in demand as a public speaker, Nigel travels the globe regularly giving speeches to major corporations on both his business and personal views. His TED Talk on work-life balance remains the most viewed ever given outside America with well over two million hits.

As well as his role as a speaker and author, Nigel personally consults to a select group of leading CEOs, is Special Advisor to the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, and is Chairman of The Leading Edge, a strategic research consultancy.

Find more about Nigel here:
TED Talk
Twitter: @TheSydneySkinny
Facebook: Nigel-Marsh
Facebook: TheSydneySkinny

Please share your own tips on balance and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT.

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