The Rise of Work Wives and Work Husbands

We’re seeing the rise of work wives and work husbands in addition to partners at home. We love who we pay attention to all the time, and the opposite is true: We pay attention to those we love, all the time. Corporate life injects this conflict systemically.

And, out of the dozens of married executives I’ve worked with as peers, I’ve witnessed approximately 50% of them experience divorce. Each case involved infidelity with a colleague with whom they worked daily. We build our family out of those we surround ourselves with. Who else?

Ever witnessed jealousy and envy between an executive assistant and the partner of the one being supposedly assisted? I have. More than once. Why does that happen? Because people make family where they are, and we are spending all of our time at work.

If you aren’t spending at least half of your time communicating and planning with your partner the success plans of your relationship and family, in my experience, your efforts to build a family will almost certainly fail.

To do this, it means spend 6-8 hours *at* work, paying attention to business details, engineering, marketing, physical labor, whatever, but the rest of your waking seconds, every single one, is dedicated to *attention* to family, partner, and overall health and success of them.

And don’t get me started on If Your Partner Hates Your Boss and Your Boss Forces You To Choose Sides as we’ve seen in recent politics. We saw someone abandon their partner for a career. Well, that career isn’t a family. It’s just another job about to be lost.

If one’s partner says: “I’ve watched what’s going on at work with your colleague. I’m uncomfortable with the relationship that has developed, I’d like to see it change or ideally stop so we can focus on repairing any reasons for distrust.” Cease immediately or it’s an affair.

I’ve had employees reveal to me in 1:1s that their partner at home is worried about a specific relationship at work. I sometimes expressed sympathy with their partners due to my own observations. I offered options to move. When I was ignored, their families disintegrated.



Schizophrenia may be a necessary consequence of Awareness

‘The division of faculties which results from the technological dilation or externalization of one or another sense…’

Now bidirectionally visual and audible.  Even tactile.  Personally mobile and ubiquitous. Multidimensional, immersive, and nearing a fully-connected social environment–orders of magnitude beyond cold television and hot text.  All senses engaged and remixed.  Versioned and archived.  Your dilation recorded live for all to see.

‘is so pervasive a feature of the past century that today we have become conscious, for the first time in history, of how these mutations of culture are initiated.’

Is it possible the gap between those who are conscious and those who are unaware is growing?  There’s more than one gap, and each one is a perspective–some potentially dangerous.  What are the consequences?  The past century is the past five years now.

‘Those who experience the first onset of a new technology, whether it be alphabet or radio, respond most emphatically because the new sense ratios set up at once by the technological dilation of eye or ear, present men with a surprising new world, which evokes a vigorous new “closure,” or novel pattern of interplay, among all of the senses together.’

With what we are now building we should expect a radical new setup of sense ratios with a potential onset more rapid than we could ever think.  The ‘closure’ may be transformational and violent beyond our wildest dreams.  What happens when you add two-billion people to the mix almost overnight when compared to historical or geological-scale change rates?  The time between system shocks is decreasing.  Multiple shocks seem to be arriving during the lifetime of a single human.

‘But the initial shock gradually dissipates as the entire community absorbs the new habit of perception into all of its areas of work and association.’

And we’re just at the beginning of the biggest shock ever with the potential for the next one to be something that we can’t even recognize.  If we weren’t conscious of how these mutations were initiated before, it seems to follow that we won’t be able to recognize our next initiation.

‘But the real revolution is in this later and prolonged phase of “adjustment” of all personal and social life to the new model of perception set up by the new technology.’

McLuhan, M.  THE GUTENBERG GALAXY.  1966.  p. 23.

This is what worries me.



after gathering surface samples Officer Jolene Manipulates the transnoumenal plasma plotting our course to next star system–altering reality with the touch of a small, sensitive hand.

Recent US Supreme Court news has focused on DOMA; however, there’s another case which intrigues me more: Salinas v Texas.  Here’s the holding:

When petitioner had not yet been placed in custody or received Miranda warnings, and voluntarily responded to some questions by police about a murder, the prosecution’s use of his silence in response to another question as evidence of his guilty at trial did not violate the Fifth Amendment because petitioner failed to expressly invoke his privilege not to incriminate himself in response to the officer’s question.

Specifically, police informally asked questions to a suspect; pre-Miranda; suspect answered most; when presented with a question that might incriminate him, he remained silent.  His silent pause was used against him in court as evidence of his guilt.

Language–the means, mode, and act of communication, syntax and grammar, verbal or otherwise–is on stage here.  Before this year, I’d never attempted a critical, circumspect investigation into language and its role in forming society and, more important, reality.  In my pursuit of tying specific words to concepts as I understand them (something most important to me over the past two years), I’ve learned to appreciate the role language plays in all things human.  I’ve found many discrepancies in my notions of definition and meaning by practicing pause when considering important values I hold.  For example, I value integrity as a defining characteristic.  I often shape my world-view around what I would do in a particular situation to maximize a positive outcome for myself and for all.  But, what does integrity mean to another person?  This is a problem.  Since I’m not The Other, there’s no way for me to ever, ever know we absolutely agree on, well, anything at all.

In work, language and the act of communicating is perilous.  We’re constantly misinterpreting.  Text messages, chats, and emails amplify the problem.  I’ve heard:  “I messaged So-and-So over thirty minutes ago, why haven’t they responded?  Did I make them angry somehow?”  Silence can be scary, and it’s never clear what it means.  This court case and outcome I find astounding because no reasonable way to interpret the silence of Salinas.  In this case, a man’s life was at stake.

More troubling is that the existence of rights is tied to an act of language.  Our Supreme Court confirmed Salinas should have exercised his right, and only then would his silence be inadmissible.  With the conjuring of a right by his use of language it would have created the reality keeping him out of jail.  Yet Salinas’ silence was instead used as a determining factor of his guilt.  All this time I’ve acted as if rights are intrinsic.  You have them, or you don’t.  No magic spells required.  I’ve obviously misunderstood Miranda as a safety net for the uninformed:  The police must tell you your rights just to make sure you know them so they can’t coerce you to incriminate yourself.  Instead, you do not have the right to remain silent without incriminating yourself until the police have informed you of your rights and you have used a form of language to exercise those rights.  I believe this is a mistake and a marked indicator of our flawed society.

This issue indicates the power and provides clear evidence of the important role language plays in defining what and who we are.  Every day I talk to dozens of people, and many of those conversations happen in a closed room, in a one-on-one setting as it’s part of my job.  I listen, and I do whatever I can to help them, even if it is trivial.  After countless hours of conversations with hundreds in this setting, I’ve become exceptionally aware, I believe, of the Otherness of the person in the room.  I routinely and clearly see the barriers to communication:  Distance, hesitation, fear, doubt, distrust, confusion, cultural issues, and just plain frustration in trying to convey an idea.  You see the patterns enough, they become obvious.  Today, it’s difficult to avoid acute self-awareness during these conversations.  I’m constantly reminded there’s another person in the room with their own world-view, their own values, their own  concerns, and it’s all wrapped in the period of time they’ve existed.  Now, once at the front of my thoughts, the mechanics of identifying and addressing the concerns of the Other become automatic.

I think this takes a huge amount of practice, and I suspect most people never have such an opportunity.  I think I’m probably lucky to be in this position; however, I can’t overstate how difficult it can be to always reach a positive outcome–and maintain that integrity I value.  Language deficiencies leave room for misinterpretations that may prohibit outcomes perceived as my maintaining integrity, no matter what I do.





I’ve found art, engineering, and organizations have something in common:   Prestressing or pretensioning of environment, materials, or people to produce greater results.  In being creative, I’ve found prestressing is submerging myself into a process or exploring as many methods as possible with a medium in order to build a form of tension that allows me to sustain and produce.  In engineering, it’s the obvious use of prestressing materials in order to compensate for tensile stress:

Prestressed concrete is a method for overcoming concrete‘s natural weakness in tension. It can be used to produce beams, floors or bridges with a longer span than is practical with ordinary reinforced concrete. Prestressing tendons (generally of high tensile steel cable or rods) are used to provide a clamping load which produces a compressive stress that balances the tensile stress that the concrete compression member would otherwise experience due to a bending load. Traditional reinforced concrete is based on the use of steel reinforcement bars, rebars, inside poured concrete.

With a team you are leading, it’s preparing emerging leaders by placing your trust in their abilities beyond their own comfort–seeing beyond what they do now and giving them an opportunity to do more than they believe they can do.  You’ve been there, and you know they can do more because you once did more.  More means increasing impact by leveraging others, enabling teams to work together, or solving problems previously believed too difficult.

Austin ConstructionThe trust you place in them is just like tensile steel cable tendons, compressing and balancing the stress of leadership.  They become capable of building stronger bridges, longer spans, and bigger projects.

Prestressed concrete is the main material for floors in high-rise buildings and the entire containment vessels of nuclear reactors.

Unbonded post-tensioning tendons are commonly used in parking garages as barrier cable.[4] Also, due to its ability to be stressed and then de-stressed, it can be used to temporarily repair a damaged building by holding up a damaged wall or floor until permanent repairs can be made.

The advantages of prestressed concrete include crack control and lower construction costs; thinner slabs – especially important in high rise buildings in which floor thickness savings can translate into additional floors for the same (or lower) cost and fewer joints, since the distance that can be spanned by post-tensioned slabs exceeds that of reinforced constructions with the same thickness. Increasing span lengths increases the usable unencumbered floorspace in buildings; diminishing the number of joints leads to lower maintenance costs over the design life of a building, since joints are the major focus of weakness in concrete buildings.

The first prestressed concrete bridge in North America was the Walnut Lane Memorial Bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was completed and opened to traffic in 1951.[5] Prestressing can also be accomplished on circular concrete pipes used for water transmission. High tensile strength steel wire is helically-wrapped around the outside of the pipe under controlled tension and spacing which induces a circumferential compressive stress in the core concrete. This enables the pipe to handle high internal pressures and the effects of external earth and traffic loads.

I’m seeing emerging leaders now, and I’m watching for opportunities to push them.  We have a lot of work to do.

Austin Sky