Morgan Stanley
  • Women Without Limits
  • Mar 29, 2022

Leveraging Balance

Hosted by Stacie Hoffmeister
Come In, Let’s Talk


Lisa Golia: Now in retrospect, you don't want it to get to that point of burnout. I typically in the past was always an all or nothing person. So, finding balance with something that I struggled with. So, it was a conscious decision at that time for me to just resign from my job.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  That's Lisa Golia. She's a managing director and head of field strategic services for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. She had a huge job, chief administrative officer of wealth management at Morgan Stanley and then she resigned. She went home because she burned out. In her time away, she gained something invaluable, perspective. And with that new perspective and with a new found confidence, she made a stunning, inspiring and remarkably strategic return. So, what secret did Lisa discover in her time away?

It has everything to do with perfecting her ability to prioritize and delegate and she discovered an intimate, ongoing, and evolving relationship with balance. She doesn't want anybody else to hit that wall as hard as she did. Coming up, Lisa shares how she rebuilt by learning the most effective and productive ways to lean on others. This is hard one wisdom. You're going to want to listen closely. I'm Stacie Hoffmeister, welcome back to Come In, Let's Talk. All right. Lisa, thank you so much for joining me.

Lisa Golia: Thanks for having me.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Yeah. This is going to be fun. So, Lisa, you are a managing director in Morgan Stanley Wealth Management's division. And you have an incredibly, incredibly massive job. And you describe yourself as being a master of delegation. And what I'll add to that is you are known for being a master delegator. You're someone who does such an amazing job at not just leveraging your team but also highlighting your team and giving your team incredible credit and you're known for that. What I love though is that about four years ago, you actually left the firm. You quit because according to your story, you weren't delegating enough, you got burned out. So, if you wouldn't mind just walking me through what happened and why.

Lisa Golia: Sure. Absolutely. Thanks Stacie. It's interesting because I consider myself now a master at delegation because I spent most of my career not delegating. I thought I had to do everything myself. It really was the recipe for disaster. I always thought essentially I needed to give a hundred percent at work and a hundred percent to my daughter, at home, my family life and 0% to me. And that is not a good formula. Where I realized one day that, "You know what? This is just not working,"

I remember I came home and my daughter was about 10. She's now 15. And she started talking to me about drama that happened at school, right? Whether it was a boy said something to her or girls were playing with her at lunchtime. And I remember as she was telling me this story, I was running this large project, multiple projects and I was on my BlackBerry typing while I was listening. And then I just looked at her and said, "I don't have time for this. I don't have time for this. It's just kid drama. It's not that important as opposed to what I'm working on."

And her face dropped. And at the moment, I looked in the mirror and I didn't like what I saw. And it really was an aha moment for me and made me realize that something here has to change. Now, in retrospect, right? You don't want it to get to that point of burnout. You want to really make sure that you find that balance before you reach that point. That didn't work for me. I typically in the past was always an all or nothing person. So, finding balance with something that I struggled with.

So, it was a conscious decision at that time for me to just resign from my job. I knew that I needed to be home. I knew I needed to be there for my daughter more even though the firm, Morgan Stanley allowed me to have that balance, I myself didn't have the discipline to take them up on that offer. I knew I had to leave. I had to find myself in order for me to be a better executive and a better mother. So, that's what I did. I resigned.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, there's a few themes I heard in that. And I absolutely want to hear about how you were able to change and what life and work has been like since you've come back. But let's pause for a moment because you talk about your daughter and you talk about being a mom and you talk about how you were this all or nothing personality, which I can completely relate to

And for those of us who are moms... I'm a mom as well, it can be terrifying. This thought of, "Can I be a hundred percent? Can I bring 200% to work as well as deliver what I need to deliver at home?"

In that moment you describe of telling your kid like, "That's not important, what I'm doing is important." Lisa, I think I did that last week. Oh, that's very close and present. So, there are so many of us out there who are really trying to have it all and to do both. So, this is thank you for your vulnerability and your honesty. And this is a really important story. So, tell us a bit about how you were able to change that formula that wasn't working for you.

Lisa Golia: So, there were a few aha moments for me as a mother that made me take a step back and really change the way I was as a human quite frankly. I remember being on an executive panel right before I resigned with a few very senior women at Morgan Stanley. And we were asked that typical question, how do you balance career and home life and so forth? One woman I remember, way more senior than I am answered that she does SoulCycle. And this woman had three children and a huge job. A lot of these women all had an interest for themselves. My response was, "Oh, I don't believe in balance. My whole life is focused on work and my daughter. Really, I don't need to do anything for me."

And I remember driving home thinking, "What an idiotic response that was. These women are so senior, have multiple children, yet they found a way." Fast forward, I had resigned and I remember about six weeks of being home now, full time, taking my daughter to school and not... I was putting her to bed one night. And I said to her, "Listen honey, I'm really sorry for all those weeks that I was traveling and when I would leave and you'd be sad that mommy's going on a business trip or if I went to a business dinner, I'm really sorry. I'm going to make it up to you."

I was only home for six weeks full time. And she said, "I don't remember ever crying mom when you laughed or if I did, I don't really remember. And I'm fine mom." And that made me take a step back to realize that sometimes we instill this level of guilt on ourselves and yes, maybe at the moment your child thinks it's a big deal that you're going to miss a dinner one night but they're going to survive. And when they're in college or when they have their career, they're going to be doing the same and they're never going to be damaged for life like we often think as mothers putting guilt on ourselves.

And I would say the last aha moment for me was going to my daughter's bake sale a few weeks after I resigned. And I brought cookies. And one of the moms who was setting it all up said to me, "No. No. No. You were in charge for cake, not cookies." And I realized at the time when I resigned, I was Chief Administrative Officer of Wealth Management. And I thought to myself, "Nobody cares about your title when you leave the four walls of the firm," right?

Here, I am at a bake sale. I just... They don't care. I didn't bring the right thing. And that was the focus. And it made me realize there is an entire world outside of my ecosystem where so many other things matter to so many other people. So, it's important to never make your career define you and really take over who you are as an individual. And only you have that, the ability to do that.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  That is such a powerful perspective, not to let your career define you as an individual, which is hard to do when all you do is work and think about your career

Lisa Golia: That's right. I will tell you one other thing that’s interesting too, is I volunteered to your point to work on the school play. And I had a role. I was never so stressed with my abilities, these women that do all of this work for school and their children are brilliant. They are CEOs of their town, of their school. And I was more stressed out doing that than I would be let's say, presenting at a board meeting. And so, I learned a lot, really learned a lot about myself.

And it's interesting still everyone said when I left, "Oh my God, you're going to be so bored. You're going to be so bored. You're not going to know what to do or yourself without a job. Oh my..." complete opposite. Every single day I cherished and I love to work but I've been working since I'm 11. So, nine months home was... It was great. It was important. Let's just say that.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Well, I know you weren't bored because you got certified as a HIIT instructor.

Lisa Golia: Yes.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  And can you explain what HIIT stands for sure.

Lisa Golia: High intensity interval training. I fell in love with it and I became certified. So, I took the course and essentially for me, it was a sign of doing something just for me and for nobody else. And it became a hobby for me. And I teach periodically on the weekends at a few different fitness centers. It's awesome.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  I joined the firm a little over two years ago and you actually, for some reason, we fell into a conversation and we figured out that I do hot yoga and you invited me to one of your classes. And I took it. And you're hard. Oh my God. I mean, you're good, you're very, very good.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, Lisa you're home for a year, you're enjoying life, you're loving every minute. Why did you come back?

Lisa Golia: My boss knew that I needed to take this time for myself. And that being said, I got the call from my boss about nine months of being home. And because we were also friends, trusted partners and friends, he already knew that I had found balance and I was in a much better place. So, I got offered a job again with this time I was ready to accept the challenge, right? That Morgan Stanley always offered me around balance. So, to me, it was the best of both worlds. I was coming back to an organization that I loved to people that I loved and respected. And this time I was ready to take on that balance.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Your house was in order.

Lisa Golia: That's right. My house, most importantly, my mindset, right? I was in a completely different mindset. I had the confidence now to build a team and to delegate. I could laugh. I never went to dinners during the week or saw a friend as an example. I always said Monday to Friday is work and go home, be there. My daughter, now, there is a world after six o'clock at night. And now I can actually go to dinner with a girlfriend on a Wednesday night and laugh and not feel guilty about it and still execute the next day and still be a great mom to my daughter. So, it's all about the mindset.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, you've been back for about three and a half years. Tell us a bit about changes you made or things that you did to not repeat the same pattern.

Lisa Golia: Yeah. Absolutely. Look, it's not easy. I'm happy to say three and a half years later, I have more balance than I ever did in my life. And I've probably executed more at work in three and a half years that I did for a decade, right? As a CAO. And I have more quality time with my daughter now than I ever had - it takes discipline. One thing that I instituted is every Friday night, I sit down, I look at my calendar and I allocate for the next week. For me, it's working out. That's my avenue of really finding balance and doing something for myself.

I make sure that I allocate time on my calendar an hour at least three days during the week and then definitely on the weekend to workout. I treat it like a meeting. It is just as important for me to not miss that hour from myself to work out as important as it would be going to a meeting with my boss. I really, really cherish that time. And I make sure that I allocate that time. The other thing that I do is... Something I never did before is say no to projects. So, I'm going to show you my age right now but if you remember the cereal commercial, Mikey, where kids-

Stacie Hoffmeis:  I do.

Lisa Golia: Wanted to try new cereal, they would always say, "Mikey, you try it. You try it." I was always the Mikey, meaning there's a new project, no worries. Lisa, we'll take it. I'll take it, no need for more resources. I got it. That was my fault for never having the confidence to say no to projects or to say, "I'm happy to take on that new initiative. Absolutely. But then I will need X, Y or Z resource in order for it to be successful." I now have the confidence to say that and really that's what my team needs me to do for them as well in order for them to be successful.

But I never did that in the past. So, it really takes discipline. It takes coordination and it takes delegation in order to find that balance. The other thing I would say is you can't have balance at work if you don't have it at home, right? So, there were things I needed to fix at home as well. It's okay to hire a dog walker. It's okay to give your child chores so that you have more free time. So, it's really finding that balance at home and at work to really make everything flow seamlessly.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Part of your secret to success it sounds like was you call it saying no but what I hear you saying is you actually said yes and...

Lisa Golia: Correct. Absolutely.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, yes, I'll take it and to be successful, I need A, B and C.

Lisa Golia: That's right.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, when you saw you didn't have the team to delegate to, you asked for it.

Lisa Golia: That's right.

And it's having the confidence to say exactly that. I can do it but this is what I need in order to do it. It's interesting. In retrospect, when I look back, I never asked. I just took on. If I asked, I probably would have gotten it. So, it's that old cliche, like you don't know until you ask, right? You're not going to get the trade unless you ask for it. So, it's having the confidence to really set the standards that make you a good executive and successful.

I can tell you that I see the respect that I've gained from my bosses throughout since I've come back and being able to say, "I'd love to take that on but this is what I'm going to need to do it." They respect that. That's what they want to hear. They don't want to hear when you're halfway done with the project and you're completely exhausted and burnt out that you should have had more resources. That's not what they want. That's not an executive.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Yeah. That's great experience. That's a pro tip right there, You also said, "I want to double click on you can't delegate at work but have a complete disaster at home."

Lisa Golia: That's right, that's right.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  And I definitely have... I feel sometimes like there's two Stacies, there's the Stacie at work and I've got things running like a tight ship and then I come home and it is a different Stacie.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Home is a hot mess. And it does take its toll. And I love that you gave your family chores to do. Fascinating. So, was that an easy shift from the mom who does it all to I'm a mom that needs help? How was that transition?

Lisa Golia: Yeah. Look, it wasn't easy. And I still struggle with it. Right now, my daughter's a teenager. So, she's constantly asking for more money for the chores and trying to challenge getting her off TikTok so that she can do her chores. So, I'm not going to lie like everything is roses and calla lilies because it certainly is not especially entering the teenage years. But look, I think my daughter also saw that I was not going in the right direction in the terms of she wasn't getting what she needed out of me.

And so, by making sure that we simply turned our entire household upside down, getting a dog walker, giving her chores, allocating time where I can leave and go get a facial. That's the other thing. I never did that. I would always feel the guilt. Oh, I'm not going to leave on a Saturday, leave my daughter because she didn't see me all week. So, no, no, no. I can't leave for even an hour. It's ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

And she saw it too. And then she also saw really the transformation in me as a human, as a mom and I became happier when our home life was in order and it wasn't just me doing everything. So, yeah. I still struggle sometimes with getting the chores to be done or sometimes I still want to do things myself but then I catch myself and say, do I really need to do this? Or can I get some help? And there's no reason to be a martyr is what I say to myself and feel like I need to do everything by myself, right? So, what? Who's going to pat me on the back? Nobody. So, you might as well get some help.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  Martyr is a very fascinating word because a lot of us do that and we do it at home. We do it at work and then there's all of the responsibilities that we have going on at home. Having being able to carve out time for ourselves is really, really hard. You've done it. You've created space. You've created boundaries.

That's what I hear too, is that you've really put in place some really clear boundaries to protect yourself so that you don't get exhausted and that you don't get burned out. You have a acronym that you created that I've heard before. I want you to share it with the audience. Tell us a bit about your acronym for being a successful leader with the confidence to delegate.

Lisa Golia: Sure. Sure. For anyone that works at a large institution, it doesn't even have to be financial. You know that in the corporate world, everything's an acronym it's HBCT and ultimately it means home, balance, confidence and team. So, home, we just talked about, right? Get your stuff together at home so that things are much easier for you at a personal level. That might mean you may not have children but you have parents to take care of and you're doing everything for them. Maybe get some help, part-time, something. It means something different for everyone.

Everyone's home life is different but ultimately when you try to do everything yourself at home, that stress will bleed into your job. Balance, again, it's what we were talking about, right? It's very important to have balance both at home and at work, right? When I didn't have that, it contributed to my stress and my exhaustion. The one thing that we didn't talk that much about, right? We did on home and balance is confidence. That's the C.

What I learned naturally is when you have your home life and balance in order, you become a more confident person. I became a more confident mother and a more confident executive. It just naturally happens because you are happier, you're more at peace, you're not stressed out. And you exude that confidence. I did not exude confidence when I was stressed and trying to do everything myself. The last is team. This is critical. Hire the best people and then empower them and then delegate to them. Yes. Be involved. Absolutely. But pick the A team. If you don't have the A team at home and at work, you will fail.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  One of the barriers that I hear other women speak about when they talk about challenges to delegation is being able to trust someone else to do the work. And that speaks to being at a level in our careers where we got to where we are by doing the work really well. And now we're being asked to trust someone else to do the work so that we can step up and to operate at a more strategic and visionary level. And that's not easy.

Lisa Golia: Absolutely. One of the other mistakes that I made historically in my career is not spending enough time interviewing candidates and building my team. I always thought to myself, "I don't have time to interview because the time it will take for me to interview or to teach someone, I could've just done the job myself." And that is the path I was on I would say for a decade in my career. And again, not a path that you want to go down. I completely shifted this time around when I came back. And for the first six months in my new role, I would say that I spent 80% of the time building my team.

That is something I never would have done in the past. It is critical. And I knew that if I spent the time now, it will pay dividends in the future. And you can't be shortsighted. I took a step back. I became more of a strategic thinker and thought to myself, "Okay. Allocate this time now so that in a year from now, you have balance, you can delegate and that will give you more time in the long run." The other thing that is critical is when you're interviewing and when you're building the team, you make sure that it is a diverse team, diverse in many ways. As an example, I always make sure that I have a few executives that have been here for a while. They have institutional knowledge, they have what I will call they know where the bones are buried, right? And then I hire people from the outside that have a fresh new set of eyes and a great competitive lens. You combine those two and forget it. It is so powerful. I can go to war with anyone on my team.

That being said, it depends on what kind of war it is will depend on who I bring in the boat with me based on their expertise, based on their background. It is critical. You also have to like your team as well, right? You have to say to yourself, "Even if I don't have that much in common with them, could I share a glass of wine with them" right? Or have lunch. Yes. You need to be able to say yes to that.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, liking your team, trusting your team, being really thoughtful and diligent and robust and strategic about picking your team are all themes that I'm hearing. And as we're building trust with our team, a question that can come up is how personal do I get? How do I maintain those boundaries? Do I risk being too human? How much do I share about what I've got going on outside of work? How real am I allowed to get?

Lisa Golia: Anyone that knows me and my team knows that the thing that they often say is, "Yes. Maybe I could be considered a little tough to work for, demanding maybe. Show me the results," and so forth. But at the end of the day, they would consider me one of their very close friends and a fair leader, if you will. But that wouldn't be the case if I didn't get to know them personally. Every single one of my directs has been to my house at least 10 times. They know my daughter, my dogs, right? We start off every staff meeting, "How was your weekend?" Talking about something personal.

When I'm going through something in my life, for example, my daughter just changed schools, that was a big deal for me. Everyone knew about it. I think it is very important that you get to know your team on a personal level. Because there are so many benefits to that. As an example, when they make a mistake, they're going to feel comfortable coming to you because they know you're human. So, it's extremely important to me within my organization. And it is deemed to be very successful. It also, it becomes something where the team really likes working for you and there's a sense of loyalty. When you have a true friendship, there ultimately and naturally becomes a sense of loyalty as well. So, I think it's very important.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, you've built a diverse and trusted team. They're ready to start executing for you. Now, I want to move to the nuts and bolts of the how you delegate because that's often a stumbling block for us as well. We want to delegate, we trust the people who work for us but just the handing off the projects, it's how do you do it? How involved do you stay? What kind of reporting back do you ask for?

Lisa Golia: Well, first of all, delegation, again becomes easier for you, particularly for A type personality like me, it becomes easier when you know you have really good people to delegate with. So, that's the first step, obviously. Then after that, in terms of how do you delegate, how do you hand off the project and what are the updates you get? It really depends on the project. So, if it's a very high profile, risky project that can go wrong in 10 different ways. I definitely want weekly updates on that. If it's a project that is not so high profile, maybe I'll get twice a month an update.

But the first thing you do is you have to give guidance and you have to set expectations. You have to let the person know that you're delegating to that, "Hey, listen, I'm going to want to be updated X number of times." And let me tell you what my vision is for this project. Let me tell you what my boss' vision is for this project and what he or she does not want you to... What path you shouldn't go down versus what path you should. So, setting expectations, giving guidance is very important.

The other thing that for me is very important and allows me to delegate with confidence, knowing my personality, it's a pet peeve of mine and everyone in my organization knows this. Don't make me dig for the issues. Meaning, tell me right upfront at the very beginning of the presentation. So, we rolled this out let's say as an example and it's a complete disaster or something went wrong or we forgot this and that. Don't take me through an hour presentation and I'm trying to dig for where the challenges are.

That is the biggest pet peeve. Let me know the good, the bad and the ugly and I typically like to know the bad and the ugly first and then I will stand by you and together as a team, we will figure it out and we will make it better. Those are the executives that I give the most intense projects to. The ones that are not afraid to say, I think we made a bad decision or this went wrong. Those are the ones I trust because in the future when they tell me things are going great, I know things are going great. So, that allows me. I don't want to delegate to somebody that is always BSing to me or sugarcoating things. I would never want to delegate to someone that was afraid to say that they made a mistake because then you're just going into the danger zone.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  So, let's talk about you as a recipient of projects that are delegated to you because you have worked for some of the top people at our firm for many years. So, I'd love to learn about what you have taken from their delegation styles. And are there any best practices that you've brought and adopted into how you delegate?

Lisa Golia: Absolutely. I would say the biggest thing that I learned is when you're working for very senior executives, regardless of how important or how massive the initiative is, they're really busy. So, while you may be in the weeds and in the details, they really just want to know at the end of the day the high points. So, as an example, years ago, when I would have to send my boss an email about a project or if whoever it was that I was working for at the time would ask me a question, I would send them back like a two page answer. Every single detail. Oh, wait, I can't forget to tell them this. I can't... Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now, today, when I'm running a massive organization, thousands of people, if I get an email from somebody that reports to me and it's more than a paragraph, you've lost me. So, give me the high points, bubble it up. That's what executives need, right? They don't really want to know how the watch was made, they just want to know what time it is. So, I would say the biggest thing that I learned as an executive, both in presentations, what I would present to my boss or let's say a board is very different than what I would present to let's say 10 other different constituents that weren't in their roles. So, tailor to your audience, presentation is everything. I'd say, that's the biggest lesson that I've learned through my career.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  This has been an amazing discussion Lisa. You've been amazing. So many people are going to benefit from your sage advice. You are a role model. We look up to you as a leader. And as again, you are known for championing, trusting and delegating to your team in a way that helps them build their careers. You're a talent magnet, many people in our firm know that a spot on Lisa's team means to work with a teacher and to work with a great guide. So, thank you for all that you do and for doing this podcast and having this conversation with us.

Lisa Golia: Thank you so much. It's my pleasure.

Stacie Hoffmeis:  That was Lisa Golia, a managing director and head of field strategic services for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Thanks so much for joining us on this episode. Come back next time when we discuss the ins and outs and ups and downs of relationship management with the true pro, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management's head of relationship management, Margaret Flynn Martin. Come In, Let's Talk is produced by Sarah Hartung, strategic communications executive director at Morgan Stanley along with the team at FreeTime Media. Music is by John Palmer. I'm your host Stacie Hoffmeister.

For many executives, balance is elusive. Lisa shares how leaving a job she loved—and learning to delegate time to herself and her team—helped her come back stronger.

Our host, Stacie Hoffmeister, talks with Lisa Golia, Managing Director, Head of Wealth Management Strategic Services, about Lisa’s story of walking away and, eventually, walking back. Lisa shares how she left a job she loved and a career she worked hard to build, largely because she wanted to spend more time with her daughter, while also struggling to find her inner balance. Stacie and Lisa talk about perspective and the ability to delegate – and how having neither of those can lead directly to burn out, something Lisa became very familiar with. As Stacie uncovers, Lisa learned lessons about herself, how to find her best and highest use of time, and most importantly – when to let go. Lisa shares how she brought those lessons back with her to build even greater success in an inspiring and strategic return.

Lisa Golia, Managing Director, Head of Wealth Management Strategic Services, leads Unified Service Strategy for Service and Sales centers across Wealth Management. In this role, Lisa is responsible for driving our investments in the tools our Service Professionals use to deliver and elevate the client experience and for implementing a consistent and value-driven service and engagement strategy for clients in partnership with our business leaders across our Advisor-led, Workplace, and Self-Directed channels. In addition, Lisa leads the execution and enhancement of our current Service Center training programs, talent acquisition strategies, and programs for cross-team career mobility.

Stacie Hoffmeister, our host, is Managing Director, Head of Home Office Talent and Diversity for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.