Nigel Long: Be Respectful to Both Your Personal and Work Life

March 07, 2019

Headshot of Nigel Long

Nigel Long is speaking at the 2019 Simmons Leadership Conference!

Nigel Long is Corporate Counsel for Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, overseeing extra-contractual litigation in the Southern region of the United States. In this role, he serves as the chair of the Legal Department’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten along the way?  

In my first year as an Associate, I worked extremely long days to “prove” myself — plus we had a huge billable hour requirement (2500). A year or so later, one of the senior attorneys in the firm saw me at my desk late one night and told me he’s noticed how hard I’ve been working since joining the firm. He then said, “We love how hard you work and the quality of your work (but) know this: If you drop dead at your desk, we’ll mourn your loss while we push your body out of that office and put a new person into it. Now please go home.”

Any tips for work/life integration?  

Be respectful to both your personal and work life. Determine what you think it will take to succeed in your respective roles (e.g., spouse, employee, manager, parent, sibling, volunteer, etc.). Assess each role and determine what is required of you to succeed. Keep in mind that we should treat our family with the utmost respect. Similarly, we must show due deference to our employment. Things are rarely as polar as they may feel. For example, when you first accept a new position, it only feels like you have to work 24 hours per day to succeed. When you first get married, it only feels like you need to be present 24 hours per day. When you first have children, it only feels like you need to be present 24 hours per day. 

The term “balance” is important. If we apply too much time to one focus over a protracted period of time, we are, necessarily, failing to focus on our other responsibilities. Hence, we must be respectful of both personal and work life. Maybe we cannot be present for our family every day for 12 hours (excluding sleep time), but we can make a point to be present (i.e., three nights per week for dinner, work “late” two nights per week, have a date night once per month while allowing yourself to work weekends 1-2 times per month).

Lastly, be candid/honest with your partner and family about your time constraints related to work. Find out what is really important to him/her/them and work those into your monthly schedule (i.e., date night, attending games, being home for dinner, books at bed time, etc.).

View the balance from 40,000 feet rather than from at ground level. Viewing the balance from ground level will often lead to myopic positions that do not take anything other than what we can see/feel at that moment into account. In “gaining altitude,” we gain the perspective to discern “temporary circumstances” (e.g., an important work project that requires 1-2 weeks worth of long days, overcoming a poor review, etc.) from a “necessary change” (e.g., change for health reasons).

Fill in the blank. People would be surprised to know that…

I am fluent in multiple languages (French, Sign Language, and Japanese); I am a second degree Black Belt in Karate; I am a Jiu Jitsu practitioner; and I am an avid piano player.


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Valerie Plame

Simmons Leadership Conference

Every spring over 3,300 women come together for a transformative experience with celebrated role models and experts in their fields.