Don't miss Josh Levs at the 2017 Simmons Leadership Conference!
is an award-winning broadcaster, investigative journalist, and expert on issues facing modern families.
How does a sense of purpose inform and influence your work?
I've designed my entire career that way. It’s the story I tell in my TEDx Talk. I’ve never applied for a job, been hired, worked my way up the ladder – all the traditional stuff. Instead, I’ve always followed my passions and created jobs for myself, including on air at NPR and CNN. Time is precious. Listen to your instincts. Knowing your purpose, and living by it to the greatest extent you can, is essential.
This is also true for businesses. I emceed an event called the Global Purpose Summit for corporations including Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Newell Rubbermaid. We explored how a commitment to purpose leads to better, stronger businesses and bigger profits.
What would you say is the most daring move you've made in your career?
When I decided to file legal action against CNN/Time Warner for fair parental leave, people painted it as a daring thing to do. To me, it was the only move that made sense. I couldn’t sit by and let other families face the difficulty mine was facing.
What did you learn from that experience?
So much! When I announced the step, I was betting on my own belief that if you stand up for what’s right, people will be there to support you. I learned that that is, indeed, the case. It felt like I had unleashed the floodgates of love. So many women’s groups and men’s groups, business leaders, and others posted public statements of support. They called and reached out in every way they could. And it set me on a journey to doing my book, All In. Through that exploration, I learned that we’re all in this together. Everyone who wants equality – we’re on the same side.
The same structures holding back women in the professional sphere are also holding back men at home. The blockades to women’s advancement are also blockades to men getting paternity leave and flexible schedules. Through the journalistic journey I went on, I discovered the scope of the problem. But I’m all about solutions, so I went looking for those – and found them. That’s the great news. The steps we can take together benefit all of us.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten along the way?
“You’re bigger than your job.” Or, the way someone else put it, “You’re the president and CEO of You, Inc.” It’s so important to understand this. It doesn’t separate you from your employer, it reminds you that you are your own entity. You are hireable elsewhere. And that gives you the strength and confidence to take the kinds of chances and push for the kind of positive change that’s needed.
Any tips for work/life integration?
During my last year at CNN (before I left to work for workplace caregiving equality full time), I turned on my out-of-office email message every day when I left in the afternoon. If anyone emailed me internally, they’d get a message saying that I would not see the email until the next day, and if they needed me they could call me. That made people stop and think, “do I really need to reach him right now, or can it wait until morning?” They rarely called. And I took my work email program off of my phone, so the only way to see it would be through a complicated process of signing in via mobile web. Work email is a rabbit hole – don’t jump in!