More and more, I find myself reflecting on a new realization hiding in plain sight and increasingly evident as my own career unfolds: the striking disparity between the structured expectations and training in our professional lives versus the often chaotic, uncharted territory of life outside of work.
In our careers, the trajectory is well-known, if not entirely predictable: an entry level role progresses to management which eventually progresses to leadership. There are paths and checkpoints guided by experience, performance reviews, training, mentors, and promotions. As we ascend the ladder, the need to delegate becomes paramount, allowing us to focus on higher-level priorities and decision making. Success is measured, feedback is continuous, and the value of our time increases with seniority. It's a familiar story, flawed perhaps (that’s a rant for a different post) yet universally recognized.
Now, let's pivot to the other side of life - the one without any kind of structured performance reviews or established trajectories. The administration of our daily lives: the realm where we juggle healthcare forms, contradicting priorities, school commitments, remembering to schedule appointments, our own personal fulfillment along with family care, and the myriad of daily tasks that make life both rich and complicated. It’s the stuff that matters, we all agree, but it’s also where we have minimal training, guidance and an unhealthy (I’d argue) opinion toward support.
Consider this paradox: the executive responsible for a multi-million dollar P&L must also submit school forms, health forms, make the appointments to get the health forms, shuttle kids to soccer tryouts, and attend out-of-state tournaments. The professor publishing groundbreaking work is also navigating the complexities of aging parents and the ever-changing landscape of eldercare. The lawyer billing hundreds per hour is spending a business flight researching summer camps and purchasing school supplies.
And then there is the schedule management across family members, multiple careers and childcare. Add to that home maintenance, car maintenance, insurance selections and claims, taxes, bills, to cut the cord with cable or not, the likelihood you’re funding 3 Netflix accounts, all the gifting for birthdays and holidays, travel booking and planning, event planning, and of course you forgot to set up care for the dog while the family gets away….
The disconnect becomes glaring. We are adept at delegating at work, yet when it comes to the equally complex landscape of life, we're left to navigate it alone. A seasoned SVP can delegate professional tasks across a large team but is individually responsible for the scheduling and logistics of 8 different after-school activities across 3 kids. No hyperbole here.
While we manage, and are trained to manage, the ever-increasing career responsibilities with the help of teams and expectation of delegation, the equivalent structure at home is non-existent. Yes, it’s possible to have a team of personal assistants and hired help, but the reality is that this is wildly cost-prohibitive for most.
But what if we could change this?
And, what if it didn’t require teams for scheduling logistics, another for general adulting, a third for travel and leisure planning, a fourth for parenting support, a fifth for all of the mundane tasks that fall outside of all of those categories, and so on?
First, we need to acknowledge this imbalance. Embrace the illogical dichotomy between career and life when it comes to support through delegation, training, and expectations. The same person is living with two unequal expectations, and two different sets of support.
Second, we need to accept that there are solutions. New solutions, only recently possible given the emergence of generative AI. To be clear, this is not an artificial intelligence post. AI technology or algorithms cannot solve the complexity of life administration, and neither can Alexa, Siri, or ChatGPT. But, AI can do a lot of very efficient legwork along with automation, and when paired with skilled humans (plus a delightful customer experience), a true life support product can be relied upon at scale.
One solution I’m personally involved with and rely on completely is the startup Duckbill. Duckbill is a human + AI-powered personal assistant that provides the equivalent of support teams. While Duckbill's exponential growth since its September 2023 launch has been remarkable, there's a hurdle to address: those comfortable delegating at work need to understand that they have permission to delegate at home, too.
Consider the delegation of life admin as a new habit to form. You can do it, and you should do it, but it can take a few experiences to commit to muscle memory and get comfortable with.
So, here's to recognizing the imbalance, embracing change, and taking advantage of support systems - not just in our careers, but in every aspect of our lives across all of our specific needs. It’s not only a virtual assistant, an AI personal assistant, or a team of chatbots, but a real-time lifeline for me and my family. Just a few use cases follow:
…. And I have the time back to do things that I care about instead.
This post was originally published here by Leslie Bateman.