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January 29, 2019

Barbara Barnes

Mex Carey

Cindy Potter

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Or I guess good morning if you guys are out on the West Coast or somewhere else that's not central or eastern or mountain time.

I'm Ryan Bower, the director of athletic communications at Florida Southern here for your Teachable Tuesday, part of the continuing education and professional development webinar series presented by Capital One, so before we begin, definitely want to thank Capital One. Definitely want to thank Capital One for all their support in helping us put this stuff together, as well as ASAP Sports for providing the full transcript from the Capital One webinars.

Really excited about this topic today. We're going to talk about mental, emotional and physical health and working on the new you. Going to be joined today by Barbara Barnes, the assistant AD for communications at Georgetown University; Cindy Potter, the associate AD for media relations and compliance at Columbia College; and Mex Carey from Michigan State, the associate director of athletic communications should be with us in a few moments, so we look forward to having him on, as well.

Let's go ahead and get started right away. You know, this is a profession and industry that obviously demands a lot of time and can definitely take a toll on people as far as mental, emotional, physical health. So Cindy and Barbara -- Cindy, we'll start with you. What are some ways that you disconnect from your job to be able to make sure that you're rested mentally, emotionally and physically so that you can do the job to the best of your ability?

CINDY POTTER: Thanks, Ryan. You know, I think that my ways to disconnect have really changed over the years. Early on in my first and second year in the business, my ways to disconnect were to go play sports myself and get out and be active and really just kind of get some exercise in. That's changed over the years. Once I started dating my now husband, my ways to disconnect were to spend time with him, and now that I've got two kids, spending time with them is crucial.

But really my way to disconnect has always been I am a huge, huge fan of just mindless TV, and the reason is because I can watch it and I don't have to think about anything. I love to watch sports, but I don't watch sports on TV. I don't find it that interesting, and so my way to get away from the business is really to watch TV shows and watch movies, things that I can sit and watch and don't have to think about what's going on in the office day-to-day.

You know, and really spending time with my kids has evolved, as well, as they have gotten older and more involved in activities, and really I've had to step away from some of the things that I would do, just realizing how much that's impacted them when I'm constantly on my phone or on my laptop or in my office. All it takes is one or two comments from your kids to say, you know, "Mom, look at what I'm doing, get off your phone," to make you realize, okay, I am spending too much time on this, and I need to just walk away and spend some time doing things with them.

So really, my thing is watching TV. I love watching TV, love watching movies, and my physical activity, playing sports and everything has definitely slowed down, but just getting away from the office completely and being able to do something that you don't have to think to do is the best thing for me.

THE MODERATOR: Well, thank you. I've got a couple of questions for you we'll come back to in a second. Barbara, we'll move on to you. How do you disconnect? What do you do to kind of get away from it all?

BARBARA BARNES: Yeah, I mean, I do a lot of the same that Cindy was talking about. Before I was married and had kids, I would run and get out and play different sports and things like that, and yeah, that's totally, totally changed now since having kids. But I still use that physical activity just to get away. I mean, if it's just outside watching the kids ride bikes, going for a walk with them, that sort of thing.

One of the other big things I've been doing is setting more limits, and some of those limits are kind of a necessity just because I need to leave the office at a certain time to pick up my kids. But I know before that I would be in the office and we'd be just messing around, everyone talking and joking, and we'd be there until 7:00, 8:00 o'clock, and now there's really a hard limit that I have to be gone. But that also really forces me to make sure that I'm using my time at the office in the best way possible and that I can get home, and when I get home, I don't want to have to do work. So I really do try to put my phone down, make dinner, have a conversation, and kind of use that quality time to step away from what I'm doing.

I also actually really agree with the not watching sports. It's funny because people do think since we're sports nuts, and I love going to games, and my family, we go to a lot of games. If I'm not working at them, we'll still go just because it's fun for the kids, but I'm not going to sit down and watch a random game. I would much rather watch something on Bravo. We talk a lot about Real Housewives and things like that at our office because of the fact that we do, we're around sports all day, and I love it, but it is nice to just disconnect and think about something else and not worry about who's winning what game and stuff, and especially if it's a game that doesn't impact us. I always really enjoy stepping away from that and just finding other things to do that, yeah, I don't really have to think about.

THE MODERATOR: Just a reminder you guys can submit your own questions in the chat portion of the control panel. We want to hear from you guys as we talk through this.

Cindy, I want to go back to something you talked about. You talked about sitting and watching mindless TV, and that's something I try to do, as well, but I will find that oftentimes while I'm doing that I pull my computer out and I start working on my basketball notes or I start working on something on the website. How do you separate that so that you don't pull out that computer while you are doing something mindless and work on things?

CINDY POTTER: You know, I wouldn't say -- maybe I'm not the best example at this, but I'm guilty of the same thing. The one thing that I really try to do, Barbara mentioned it, now with kids, you have to leave the office at a certain time to go pick up those kids or go do something. My daughter dances and she's on this new competitive team, and it's forced me to leave the office at 3:00 on Mondays, and I'm at the dance studio for three hours, so I really try to use that time to work so that when I do get home, I can be with my kids and my husband and be fully into what's going on.

I think, you know, really, I don't -- the mindless TV watching is great, and that is my escape, but I also think that typically happens after my kids go to bed, and I know that if I can get something done then that's going to help me spend more time with them later the next day, help me just be more ahead tomorrow, then I will pull out my computer and do that.

I think the mindless part of it is that it takes you that much longer to do those things on your computer when you're also trying to watch TV. You're not really totally focused, and I used to do that a ton. I have gotten away from that because I've realized it's not a good use of my time anymore. I now will spend time watching TV and go to bed, and I used to sit there for hours watching TV because I'd pull out my laptop and I'd do something and then think, oh, I need to do this, but I'm going to finish watching this show. Really separating the two is the best use of your time. And so before I start watching TV, if I do have something to do, I will do that before I turn on the TV, and I know that I'll be able to get it done in half the time and then be able to decompress and really watch my mindless TV like I like to do.

THE MODERATOR: Barbara, a question for you and I want to hear Cindy chime in on this, as well. You talked about having kids and things like that. Especially when those kids are younger, how do you -- A, how did this change things when you had kids; and then B, what steps do you take to make sure that you're really engaged with your kids? Do they come to games? Do they help you out at stuff, those kind of questions?

BARBARA BARNES: Yeah, I mean, having kids totally changed the way I work, and truthfully I know I've read it before, that I think men or women, when you have kids -- and it doesn't always have to be kids, either. You have a dog, you have any sort of commitment, all of a sudden it changes your priorities. So yeah, for me one of the biggest changes was just my time management and making sure that I could get as much done during the day as possible so that when I get home, I can enjoy myself and I have to be home at this time and get all the other things I want done.

The other thing that's really changed is kind of schedule, because of the fact that, yeah, all of a sudden you have to figure out this whole new -- you have doctor's appointments, you want to spend more time with them, we're gone on the weekends and we're gone a lot of nights, so I credit a lot to my bosses, actually Mex when he was with me, and my boss now who have been really understanding of that, that especially with my kids being little, they're going to get sick, they're going to have doctor's appointments, and just understanding that I used to work from home on Mondays for a lot of years just because it made more sense for me to be home when I'm gone all weekend.

The other thing with the travel is I'm very fortunate to have friends in some of the cities that we typically go to, so a lot of times I will bring my kids with, and they would -- we'd stay at the friend's house and I could see my parents or my siblings, things like that. I think I've been very fortunate to have really, really supportive bosses and supportive coaches who kind of foster that family atmosphere. My son is actually almost six, and he just this year has started being a ball boy, being able to go to games, and to me that's great because now he sees what I do and he understands what I do but he also can start to participate and for him to get that love of sports, whatever it may be, that's a really healthy thing to be into. I'm excited about it. It's fun to share that with the kids now that they're getting a little older. I mean, that's just an awesome experience for me that they start idolizing some of the players and all that stuff.

I think it's been a really positive thing, but it certainly has changed how I work.

THE MODERATOR: Cindy, let's hear from you on that and then we've got a question from someone.

CINDY POTTER: Yeah, I would completely agree. Having support of bosses makes a world of difference. I started out with a dog before I met my husband, and that changed my life significantly because I felt like, okay, I can't just be at work for 12 hours now. I've got to go home. I've got to take her for a walk. I've got to feed her. So that kind of led into, okay, now with my husband, he's got a crazy schedule, as well, so we had to make use of the time we did have together. And now with the kids, you do, you have a schedule that's not necessarily your own schedule anymore. You have to pick them up, drop them off at a certain time, and it makes a huge difference.

Really just being able to prioritize things within your job and with your bosses, okay, this is my -- this has to be my priority because if I don't have this job to pay the bills, then I don't have the money to support my family. And so I have taken a, yes, family first, but my job is right up there, too, because I want to be able to do things with my kids, and one of my greatest achievements, I hope, will be my kids watching Mom succeed.

I think it makes a world of difference to me when my kids get to come to Columbia College to come to events and watch mom work. I want them to grow up knowing that Mom works hard, and Mom works hard to provide things for you guys so that you guys have a better life.

THE MODERATOR: We want to say hello to Mex Carey, and Mex is here with us now, so appreciate him joining in. Mex, I do want to direct a question to you before we get into this question from the folks listening. Welcome. It's good to have you. The one thing that I'm wondering on is how do you do things that help you disconnect from what you're working on all the time, because obviously everybody is really busy, but how do you do things to help disconnect and what do you do?

MEX CAREY: A lot of times one of the things -- I know Barb was just on here and she and my old staff at Georgetown would always know that toward the end of the day I'd always try to go out for a run. I haven't done that as much here at Michigan State as I would like, but you know, I try to disconnect by going out for a run. At night I try to make sure that there's time for me and my wife to hang out, whether it's something as simple as watching Jeopardy at night at home or just hanging out and watching TV. And then I try to read a book at night just to kind of try to break away from work. I'll do work at night at home, but for the last 40 minutes at night I try to sit and read a book, whether it's just something non-sports related, something completely away from this world to kind of just give me a little bit of a break.

THE MODERATOR: Here's a question from the audience, and feel free, any of the three of you can answer this one, but this is a great question. I feel this way, too. Sometimes when I take time away from work it stresses me out more about the things that I don't have done. How are you able to be 100 percent present with your family or other folks and keep that stress to a minimum. I know for me that's something I think about all the time and my wife accuses me of not being able to separate sometimes because you take time off and you know there's still work to be done, but how do you balance that?

MEX CAREY: I mean, I'm happy to jump in on that. I know my family and I are in a little bit of a unique situation in that my wife and I are here in Michigan and our daughter is finishing high school in Maryland. We went back at one point in December to see my daughter in a performance at a local community theater. My wife reminded me when we went in, I knew we were in the middle of a weekend of games, and she just said, this is the one time we're here for the show, put it away and let's focus.

It's hard to do it, but when -- for me in the situation that we're in, that we're dealing with a little bit of a separation, I know I want to cherish those moments when I have her with me and I can spend that time together, and that to me is more important than anything in the world.

CINDY POTTER: I think from my perspective, my husband will tell you that the only time I've ever really disconnected was on our honeymoon because we didn't want to pay for the wi-fi at the resort. So came back to, I don't even know, hundreds of emails, and that was really overwhelming.

But I think this might sound silly to say, but I feel like I've built up equity with my husband, enough that he knows that if I'm doing something and we're at an event with the kids or he's just wanting me to be present, I'm not doing it just because I'm not interested. I'm doing it because I'm going to be stressed out later if I don't take care of this right now.

And I think it's just something that you learn over time. You know, okay, there are certain things that can wait, and there are certain things you need to take care of right then and there.

You know, my position is a little bit different in that I handle all the compliance for the department, so I'm the person that does all the eligibility and students have to come to me if they want to drop or add a class. So there are certain things that are really time sensitive and I can't just dismiss and just over all I think my husband knows that and understands that, and I take enough time to be present and be in the moment that he knows that when I'm not, it's for a good reason.

BARBARA BARNES: Yeah, just to add to that, I try to be really honest about what has to be done. Like Cindy said, sometimes there are things we all know can wait, and sometimes there are things that can't wait. I try to be really up front about what I'm doing, so I'm also honest about what's the start time and what's the end time. In our office we actually all proofread each other, so someone has a release that has to be sent out, and someone has to get that release to proof, and especially if we know someone else is at an event or something else, sometimes I'm the only person that can get this. So I'll look at it, and I'll say, hey, I have to proof this field hockey release, and he knows that's five minutes, I'm going to be on my phone, I'm looking at it, I'm ignoring what we're doing, but it's not forever.

Along with that, if we are traveling or something like that, I'll try to be honest of like, hey, if my daughter is going to take a nap, I'm going to take that time to sit in the hotel room and get some stuff done so when she wakes up I'm ready to go again. And that's not only with my husband, that's with friends, anybody -- most people in our lives understand our jobs somewhat or at least kinda see that we seem to be always on our phones. So I try to be really up front about what I'm doing, why it's important and when it's going to end and then I can get back to family life or friends or whatever we're doing.

THE MODERATOR: Barbara, the next question goes back to something you talked about earlier. You talked about for years you would work from home on Mondays after being gone all weekend, so the question is have you ever asked your boss for more time to work from home or a more flexible schedule, and what's some advice on how to ask a supervisor if you're not sure how they're going to respond? Since you've talked about that, let's have you answer that first.

BARBARA BARNES: I'm sure Mex can also comment on this since he's the person that said yes. But yeah, I mean, when I was pregnant with my son, that was something we had talked about from the beginning, of trying to have a more flexible schedule so I could spend some extra time at home, especially if we are traveling.

I think something Cindy said, of my family is my first priority and my job is right up there, so both are really important. But I think it's just being really up front about what you want. There's nothing wrong to want to spend time with your family. There's nothing wrong to want to take a few days off to do something or to miss this or go to your daughter's play or whatever it is. And I don't think you should fear a supervisor in saying that.

I know there are going to be some people out there that say no for whatever reason, but I think many of us in this profession work really, really hard and constantly we're telling our friends and family, no, I can't make your wedding, I have this; no, I'm -- telling your kid I'm going to miss your birthday, telling your spouse or your best friend, no, i can't, we have a game, I'm on the road, it's this, and we have no problem saying that. But yet it's so hard to ask the other way, to tell your job, oh, no, I'm not going to be at this because I have a family thing. And I just don't think it has to be like that. I think we miss plenty of family things for events, but at the same time, I think because of that, we should have the same respect that sometimes you're going to miss a work thing because of a family thing.

And I think a lot of us also understand kind of what the levels of importance, I guess. We're not going to miss a home NCAA tournament game, but if it's a Monday morning and my son has a show at school, yeah, I'm going to miss that, and I'm not going to apologize for it or try and make up an excuse, I'm going to be honest of like, this is happening, this is important to me, I'm going to be there, I'll be in at this time.

I think honesty and just being really, really realistic about what your goals are and what you're trying to do is the best thing because all of us work so hard that a lot of times people respect that and we're worried about asking for something, and this job asks so much of us that I do think that we kind of owe it -- we're kind of owed to get that back in return when it comes to family time.

CINDY POTTER: I completely agree. I hear everything you're saying, and I'm having all the same thoughts in my head. I think there's probably a lot of people that are listening to this and thinking, okay, yeah, but easier said than done. But I'll go back to what I said about my husband. I've built up a lot of equity with him. He knows that I'll be present when I can and I'm dedicated to our family.

I think my boss knows that about me, that I've built up a lot of equity in what I do, and he knows that I do a good job and I take care of the work I need to take care of, and I'm not late with my deadlines, and so if I say, hey, I need this day off or I'm going to work from home, I have worked hard enough that he knows that it's not just me taking a backseat and not doing my job, it's just I need some time.

You know, I think the people that know me really well know that when I had my second child I took seven days out of the office, but I was -- I literally had -- this is TMI, but I had a C-section, and before I actually met my son, I was watching our national tournament basketball game in the hospital room. It's who we are, right? It's what we do.

You know, if you are doing a good job, your supervisor, your boss knows that, and you should not be afraid or nervous to just ask them for what you need because you're giving them all of yourself.

THE MODERATOR: The one thing I would say, too, to that is I'm in a situation where I've got three staff that work for me, and I will tell those guys a lot, hey, if you worked all weekend, take Monday off, work from home if you want, but I don't want to see you in the office, I'll tell them that and make them take days off. So if you're in a position where you're a supervisor, make sure your staff is getting time off, too, and even if they don't want to, make them take time off. I've told them, you're not working basketball tonight; you can come to the game and watch but if you come down to the table and sit down, I'll kick you out. I think that's definitely something big.

Another question: Do you feel like it's hard to get -- obviously we can kind of get away from the office to do some things for family, justify that. Do you ever feel like it's harder to get away to do something just for yourself, like going for a run like Mex talked about or a longer lunch or something like that? Do you find that to be a little more difficult?

MEX CAREY: Yeah, I mean, during the course of the day it's always hard to try to find a way to do it. I've found it harder to do out here because it's so cold out here.

But even if it's -- like a lot of times now what I've taken to doing, it's even just taking some walks in the arena, I'm in the basketball offices now, and we have practice at 3:00, and I know by the time we get done, we have media availability afterward, I won't have time to do much tonight, but I'll take a couple walks in the gym just to kind of at least move around and clear my head after the day.

So it's hard because you get caught up in the middle of the day with things that are going on, and you can tend to -- and I think Cindy and I think Barb have kind of alluded to it or referenced it at certain points, you can kind of forget what you want to do. But even if you can just take a break and take a little bit of a walk to kind of clear your head, it's hard to, but I feel better when I do it, I know that.

CINDY POTTER: I think that everybody has these big aspirations that, hey, I'm going to do this at the end of the day or I'm going to make sure that I take this time for myself, and nine times out of ten I'm probably failing on that. And my student workers will tell you the joke in the office is I think I've had a bag of workout clothes and shoes sitting in the office for like months. That's my -- like today I'm going to change into those clothes and do something, and I never get around to it.

But in the end, I always think, okay, I would much rather either work through my lunch or take off a little early to go play with my kids or do something with my family than take a longer lunch.

My getting away is -- I love to shop, and so on the weekends, I use that time, and my daughter is just getting to the age where like she's fun to shop with now instead of it becoming an inconvenience to shop with them, and it takes so much longer. It's becoming fun, and so really that's my getaway. I've got to grocery shop, right, so if I can get away and do some shopping, that's kind of my time.

BARBARA BARNES: I know one thing we've talked about at our office a lot is not feeling bad when you do want to take those times. I know that most of us have banked up some insane amount of time off because we just don't take it. So you know what, three hours to get a haircut? Fine. You need to get an oil change. All these things happen, and a lot of people do them on the weekends, and we can't. I don't think -- again, I don't think people need to beat themselves up about it, and they really need to understand that some -- the things that you need to get done in your life are important, and so take that time. If it's a little bit of a vacation time or whatever, because even though I'm saying I leave for my kids or my kid has this or someone has their dog, well, your oil change is just as important or your haircut or your run or whatever else.

And I think sometimes it's just being a little bit selfish and worrying about what you need in order to be good at your job.

THE MODERATOR: We've talked a little bit about some of the mental and emotional aspects of getting away from things. One thing I want to talk about is the physical health thing. I know, Mex, you talked about taking some runs and going for walks and things like that. One of the things I think about especially in this industry is what we eat. I'm probably -- I'm so tired of pizza right now but I really like it, so I'll keep eating it at games, but how do you guys make time, find time in your schedule to eat the right things, to make meals that are good, that are nourishing, that aren't just running out and grabbing fast food on the way home from a game?

MEX CAREY: I'm going to let these two answer this because I don't know if I'm qualified for this.

CINDY POTTER: I was going to say the same thing, as I'm sitting here eating my lunch. I think my kids have really prompted me to eat better, eat more often because I -- really before the kids came along, I would go until 1:00 in the afternoon without eating anything. I'd have a soda or the official drink of SIDs, I would have a Mountain Dew and that would just tide me over until whatever, and I was just dragging. And that really took its toll on me. But I think just having kids and having to be a little bit more structured, they've got to eat, so I can throw something in for myself, it just doesn't happen all the time. Barbara said this about taking time for yourself. I think as much as I want to eat healthier and do more things like that, I've just gotten over the, I'm going to feel guilty about having this cheeseburger. I'm eating, and I'm happy to be eating, and Barbara can probably attest to this, too; you just -- you're going to lose that war with your kids. So if they will eat something, who cares if it's their tenth PB & J of the last two days. They're still eating something.

BARBARA BARNES: Well, I have to give all the credit to the staff at Georgetown because one of the things that we've really started to do is we all eat lunch together. Not the entire staff but the communications staff. We all eat lunch together and actually most of us bring our lunches. I think that's kind of almost been a peer pressure thing. Knowing that everybody else brought their lunch, it's like, I don't feel like running out and grabbing something, I'd rather have -- so we can all sit, and sometimes we talk about work, but quite often, again, we talk about Bravo. We talk a lot about Bravo, weirdly.

But I think that's been a really -- just to have a lunch buddy, and I know I worked in Division III, so I certainly understand when you're an office of one, you might not have that. So whoever that may be, but I think having that peer pressure or that lunch buddy who will be like, hey, let's get out and it's a beautiful day, let's eat outside, and then especially if you make the plan ahead of time, hey, I'm going to make dinner tonight, I'm going to make extra so I have leftovers; are you bringing lunch? We actually will text each other and find out, is anyone bringing lunch today. So I think kind of a little buddy system sometimes helps us actually sit down, eat, take the time and then hopefully eat healthier as opposed to going to going to grab something fast food, even though, Cindy, I'll drink plenty of Diet Coke, so don't feel bad.

THE MODERATOR: One thing, I know here, we've got the cafeteria on campus, and I know it's cafeteria food, but there's a salad bar and a salad is a salad. It doesn't cost very much to get a nice discount going in there, and I'm sure a lot of people have that. And the other thing that I just want to tell everybody is instant pot, that's going to change your life. Take a look at those things.

We really appreciate having you guys on. It's been really educational to hear things from the three of you and how you kind of handle this mental, emotional and physical element thing, so I definitely want to thank you for that. We're going to go ahead and wrap up, but I do want to remind everybody that this is going to be available on demand later on today on CoSIDA Connect. We definitely want to thank Capital One, we want to ASAP Sports for being able to provide all the transcripts for everything. I want to thank Mex and Cindy and Barbara for being on, and Beau White for pulling the strings behind the scenes as the Wizard of Oz and the man behind the curtain. We hope you have enjoyed this webinar for the continuing education and professional development series. Thank you guys for joining us, and we will see you next time.

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