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TIAA CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett Says ‘Work-Life Balance Is A Lie’—This Is What She Does Instead


TIAA CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett Says ‘Work-Life Balance Is A Lie’—This Is What She Does Instead

The concept of career women having it all at the same time has been on the minds and tongues of many for decades, with some of us landing on either side of the argument. Thasunda Brown Duckett recently weighed in with her thoughts, ultimately making it clear where she stands and her opinion may surprise you.

“Work-life balance is a lie,” Brown Duckett said at the Columbia Journalism School’s Knight-Bagehot gala earlier this month as reported by Fortune. As the president and CEO of financial services company TIAA, and mother, she knows all about the ebbs and flows of juggling multiple balls in the air at once.

“The reality is you do not have 110%, so tell the truth. I only have 100%,” Duckett said. “The reality is my children do not get 100% of me. Tell the truth; they probably get about 30%. “Because I told the truth that my kids only get about 30%, I am a much more present mother,” she continued. “I give them 100% of my time within that 30%.” 

She instead offered some advice in kind with her investment strategy she utilizes regularly in her role.

“If you live your life like a diversified portfolio, everything that matters to you is in there,” she told the audience. “In any given market or season, I may not be a great mom because I’m here and not at home, but over time, I’m a really good mom.”

She’s not alone. Per a September 2023 report from the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, 70.4% of women with children under 5 were in the workforce. Brown Duckett urges working mothers to take it easier on themselves.

“If you live your life like a diversified portfolio, over time, you will outperform this thing called life,” she said before repeating her conviction that work-life balance is a lie. “But you can live a joyful life.”


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