Better Balance through Outsourcing

Better Balance through Outsourcing

Buddy Mari just forwarded me this article about Sophie Vandebroek, who was widowed 10 years ago with three small children and no family support in the U.S. Rather than reduce her level of company responsibility, she instead increased it; she worked her way up and became Xerox’s Chief Technology Officer in January 2006.

The article drops lots of interesting productivity tips and principles. I especially liked her idea of “outsourcing” domestic tasks, because a lot of them just aren’t that critical compared to what’s really important to her: the quality of her family life and her job:

Next to the kitchen sink hangs a bunch of bananas. To Vandebroek, it symbolizes the trade-offs of her outsourced life. Some weeks the bananas are too green; others, they’re too brown. If she did the shopping herself, they might be perfect. Likewise, she’d do a better job than her housecleaners or her lawn-care crew. But timewise, it’s not worth it. “I learned that the hard way when Bart died,” she says. “So many things we worry about are not important.”

What’s refreshing about this FastCompany article is that it isn’t a touchy-feely human drama piece. While that’s the backstory, this article is more about how she maintains that no-nonsense executive approach to getting things done. Sometimes I get a little tired of the “let’s be more productive so we can spend more time windsurfing” vibe…I want to be more productive so I can kick more ass. I hadn’t realized until reading this article, just now, that maybe I haven’t “upped my game” as much as I have thought. Very cool, and inspiring.

» Read How She Does It at FastCompany.


  1. Dane 14 years ago

    Hell yeah dude, it’s all about kicking more ass!

    Err.  And windsurfing, at least for this guy, but I’ll agree that spin is so painfully tired.  The only difference between 1986 and 2006 is that the activity has changed from windsurfing to kitesurfing, which is something most journalists have a tough time wrapping their heads around.

    Seriously, if you’re going to write a glib and useless article about all these hot-shot San Franciscans who live only to make a wad of cash in the morning and kitesurf all afternoon, at least get your facts straight.  I remember one article in the New York Times that described a fellow who went kitesurfing for “5-6 sessions a day.”  Not only is that impossible, it doesn’t make any sense.

    That is, unless he outsourced his rigging and derigging to a subordinate.  Hmm, this just might be a brilliant idea.


  2. Ian 14 years ago

    I like articles like this. It’s a nice approach to see people more like me. I don’t try to be more efficient so I can lounge around, I do it to help give me time to do the work I want to do.

    I know many of us developer types are constantly trying to find more time on personal projects. Articles like this help show that not all technology people are looking for a way to slack off, some of us actually enjoy our work and want to do more.