Mohamed A. El-Erian had it made. As a the CEO of PIMCO, a global investment firm, El-Erian's position gave him power and prestige.
And one disappointed daughter.
A small encounter with his daughter let El-Erian know that regardless of his successes in the boardroom, he was failing his child. So he quit.
It started when El-Erian asked his daughter to brush her teeth and she ignored him.
"I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded ... She would have known from the tone of my voice that I was serious," El-Erian wrote on worth.com.
"She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments."
What a gut punch. The brave little girl's list included milestones you don't just get back: her first day at school, her first soccer game and so on.
Realizing his work-life balance was completely out of whack, El-Erian left the CEO position. He does still work part-time, a move that gives him much more family time.
El-Erian isn't just a great dad, he's also a realist. Not everyone has the means to downgrade their job like this, he acknowledged. But that's the point, and something companies should think about, he argued.
"... As companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what's important to them."
That's a boardroom victory we all could use.