Reading: Say No to Work/Life Balance

Woman of Passion & Purpose

Say No to Work/Life Balance

Tiffany Dufu orders you to shrink that to do list!

By Lesley Jane Seymour

Video by Geoffray Barbier

Tiffany Dufu says she already knows what’s going on her tombstone! And it’s all about helping women to bring sanity to the work/life balancing act.  When the ball is passed to you, she says, just drop it!  Not surprisingly, that’s also the name of her book, Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less which happens to have a forward by Gloria Steinem. Listen in as she explains how to downsize your life and upsize your happiness.

Below is a transcript of Tiffany Dufu’s story from our discussion with her.

One of the most important things to know about Tiffany Dufu is that my life’s work is advancing women and girls. That’s pretty much why I’m on the planet, so my life is really simple. I already know what’s on my tombstone, and I’m just project managing it backwards. I feel really lucky that I get to execute my purpose right here with you. I’m just the cumulative investment of a lot of people — mostly women who took the time to mentor me and sponsor me and give me advice all along my career, and life, and essentially have passed me from one woman to the next.

My father was stationed at Fort Lewis Army Base in Tacoma, Washington, so that’s how I came to be from there, and after I graduated from college I was pretty committed — still even at that stage in my development — to women and girls, so I was on the ground floor of launching a girls’ school, a girls’ middle school that focused on math, science, and technology. It’s called Seattle Girls’ School, it’s a magical place that I highly recommend.

Everything that I have ever done is connected to women and girls in some way, like literally every job that I’ve had. What I love is that I have this passion and this purpose and I execute whatever needs to happen at the time, so right now I have what I would call a “portfolio career” which I think is the future of work. I’m Chief Leadership Officer at Levo, which is a platform for millennial professionals to help them elevate their careers. I love it because I really believe that this next generation of women leaders has so much opportunity if we could just help them figure out how to not get overwhelmed by all of their choices.

I write, I just finished my first book [Drop the Ball] — it’s a book for women, like everything that I do. It means that I spend a lot of time talking to women every Tuesday and Thursday mornings, sometimes Friday mornings so I meet with six to seven women a week. Over the course of four years, I’ve met with nearly a thousand women, and I’m obsessed with their stories.

There are, in the course of my day, really specific things that I do: making sure that meetings are 45 minutes, asking a very simple question every time someone invites me to a meeting, you know in these days of technology you’re always getting these email invitations, and I like calling someone or walking to someone’s office and saying, “Hey I noticed that you sent me an invite to that meeting. Why do you need me in that meeting, is there something specific— is there a specific role you’d like me to play?” You wouldn’t believe the number of times someone says, “Tiffany I’m so sorry, you don’t need to be at that meeting.” But really the key to having it all is not doing it all, and that’s what Drop the Ball is all about.

I think it’s great that as we get older we get so much more efficient about funneling the negative messages. Quite frankly, we just get more comfortable with who we are in the world, which is really important to me.

Note: Tiffany recently left Levo league and is now CEO of soon to launch www.findyourcru.com.

  1. Ruth Sutcliffe

    She is inspiring, and gives some great advice to women of all ages about keeping things simple and focused. How can women find her? What is her email address? Website?

  2. judith coyne

    hmmm. This is not my favorite kind of piece. Maybe others will see it as a quick glimpse of an interesting to woman. To me, however, it was utterly self promotional on Tiffany D’s part. She praised herself endlessly (and repetitively) without giving the reader much sense of what she has ever done to help any particular woman or group of women. The only example she gives is the girls’ school in Seattle, for which she gives herself full credit. But since she was a recent college grad when she worked on it, I’m guessing there were a lot of other people involved in making that school happen, which suggests TD may be over-congratulating herself. “Drop the Ball” sounds as if it could be interesting (unless it is just a variant of the 8 zillion already-published articles about how women need to learn to say no more often). But there was very little about the book in this piece, so I didn’t learn anything new.

  3. Pamela Baxter

    I would have liked hearing more about the girls and women she has helped and their success stories because of that mentoring experience

  4. Christine Kmieczak

    I appreciate when there is some reference to how old she is (even ballpark is fine) for context. More did this regularly and it was somewhat unique yet it was so useful in grounding me as the reader with the “okay, she is my age or okay, she is 10 years older: here is her story.”

  5. Debra

    “I already know what’s on my tombstone, and I’m just project managing it backwards.” What a playful way to see and apply our purpose in life!

    I’m also a “cumulative investment of a lot of people” and am grateful for the wisdom and support each has shared.

    Thank you for a great interview. I look forward to reading Drop the Ball!

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