Thursday morning, three gentlemen showed up in Soho with a large truck and strong backs. They lugged 30 boxes of books and yellow stickies and whiteboards filled with submissions lists out the door of 287 Spring Street, and three hours later Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency was unpacking our new office on the Upper West Side (right upstairs from where the late H&H Bagels used to be—now it’s a Verizon store).
I’m writing about this not because it’s a major moment in the history of publishing, but because it illustrates a reality in the business world: work-life fit matters. We moved because three of the four of us live on the Upper West Side. One of us is having a baby in a little more than a month, and having an office near home will allow her to come by to say hello (and keep at least slightly current) during her maternity leave. I live a block and a half away from the new space (a fact I apparently mention to my becoming-more-annoyed wife several times a day, most often while doing a very 44 year-old version of the Gangnam dance…).
But I’m not happy about the move because it will allow me to sleep late and give up my monthly Metrocard. Rather, it’s because all of a sudden my kids have enormous amounts of homework. My son’s in a new school, and it’s serious. He’s reasonably philosophical about it, but walks around shellshocked at the fact that at 10 PM he’s only half done. My girls, one in middle school and the other in fourth grade, are in a double curriculum, and more often than not have to read primers in Hebrew after their math.
The point is, the half-hour I am saving by walking the two blocks home rather than taking the E to the D to the C could be the difference between a reasonable amount of sleep for the kids and exhaustion and incredible irritability—times five, if you count Amanda and me. The fact that I’ll also be able to go to the gym more often is an added bonus, and one that will surely add to my overall well-being and happiness.
As always in these situations, I’m indebted to my client Cali Williams Yost, who’s spent the last 17 years advising people how to give their professional and personal lives this kind of synergy. She’s written one book on the topic, and is coming out with a second, Tweak It, this winter from Center Street. This is not merely a plug for Cali, who has an enormous platform and does a far better job explaining herself than I can. But I will say that my conversations with her, about strategies designed to figure out where my priorities lie—and that personal and professional goals overlap more than my self-compartmentalizing brain ever considered before—certainly were factors in considering this change.
This morning I dropped my son off at the Columbus Avenue bus, then walked for three minutes, past a Starbucks and Zabar’s, and up to the former artist’s studio HSG is now sharing with a small film production company. I opened my email. It was 7:35 AM. The day could begin.