Tracy Brower is a work environment sociologist and global vice president of workplace vitality for Mars Drinks. Tracy Brower is the author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations which focuses on work-life integration and abundance. Throughout her career, Tracy has had the opportunity to engage with a wide range of organizations including many of Fortune 500 companies. Tracy Brower is a three-time recipient of the CoreNet Luminary Award for speaking and a recipient of the University of Houston Alexander Real Estate Innovative Practices Award. Tracy has taught university courses in management and organizational effectiveness. Tracy holds a PhD in the sociology of work as well as a masters of management in organizational effectiveness and a masters of corporate real estate. Her work has been referenced in The Wall Street Journal, Green Source, MMQB, The Digitalist, Forbes, and Fortune.
How did you end up as Global Vice President of Workplace Vitality for Mars Drinks? What was your career path?
I actually worked with Mars Drinks as my customer when I was with Herman Miller, and also got to know the company and the people through interviews I conducted for my book. From there, it was natural to join an organization that I admire and where I have the opportunity to contribute to something that is my passion. As for my career path more generally, I’ve always followed my heart and have done things that I like to do. I have a general rule of thumb to say ‘yes’ more than I say ‘no’ to new opportunities and challenges – and that has guided me.
What is a day as Tracy like? Please walk me through a day!
My day definitely mixes together work and life. I typically work early and also in the evenings as well as during traditional working hours. But I’ve figured out the particular touch points that are most important to me so I feel like I have a fulfilling life. Morning time – getting ready, having breakfast, getting out the door – with the family (my husband and our daughter and son who are 18 and 14) is something I always protect. Also, taking our son to school and picking him up after sports practice are part of a typical day. And family dinners (even if we’re eating out) are important to me. I rarely watch TV and I avoid cooking at all costs. I try to work out a few times a week, and I always read before turning off the light at bedtime.
What is Workplace Vitality and why is it important?
Workplace Vitality is a workplace that is vibrant, thriving, and alive with potential. It is at the intersection of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity. It’s important because people are such a critical part of an organization. We spend 80% of the typical day working so our experience with our work matters a lot, and it also tends to seep over into our attitudes and relationships outside of work. By creating Workplace Vitality, we are doing the right thing for people, and we are also doing the right thing for organizations and their success.
What are your responsibilities as Global Vice President of Workplace Vitality for Mars Drinks?
As a company, we are 100% dedicated to the workplace and because of this focus, we are doing some really exciting and substantive research and then sharing our insights with customers to help them create great tasting moments at work and contribute to their Workplace Vitality. I’m responsible for looking after the point of view on Workplace Vitality, for leading our research agenda for Workplace Vitality, and for providing insights to our customers and potential customers via content creation, speaking engagements, and the like.
You are also the author of “Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations” which focuses on work-life integration and abundance. What is the number one takeaway you’d want someone to get from the book?
The biggest thing is that we can have it all and that abundance is possible. We’ve become mired in a race for ‘work-life balance’ and I think it’s less about balance – tradeoffs, zero-sum with never enough to devote to either work or life – and more about abundance. Work is a part of a rich and fulfilling life and life is a part of work. In the book, I provide suggestions and recommendations for individuals, leaders, and organizations about how to create this abundance.
What is your #1 tip for companies that want to retain employees and create a good work culture?
Focus on people and create a sense of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity. We have plenty of insights on how to foster these on our website, and on our blog. Ultimately, providing people with a sense of purpose, demonstrating caring and respect for people, and letting people know they are valued and appreciated go a long way.
What are the most important characteristics someone needs to have to be successful in your role?
The ability to be creative, customer-focused, and collaborative. It’s also important to be curious and interested in a lot of things since these lead to great explorations, great ideas, and great innovations for the future. I also think optimism is super important, along with a sense of urgency to get things done. And of course a sense of humor. That’s probably number one!
What have been your proudest moments from your career so far?
Publishing my book was a really special moment because it brought together so much of my personal, professional, and educational experience. (And it was the culmination of a lot of good old fashioned hard work too!) I also love the times I’ve spent coaching or mentoring others. Proud moments are also when I’m taking photos of families through the charitable amateur photography that I do. Oh, and when I’ve overheard our kids telling their friends that we’re chill parents. Now that’s a proud moment!
What is your advice for someone who hopes to work in sociology?
Keep your eyes open and do a lot of observation and also reflection. Learn as much as you can, all the time. Be curious and open. Be fascinated by the people and patterns that you see.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
That it all works out, and to trust every step. Sometimes the path will be tougher or trickier, but it’s all invaluable experience and it’s all cumulative.
What is on your desk right now?
A great cup of coffee, a candle, my laptop, my iPhone, unlined paper, and my collection of colorful Flair markers!
What are you reading right now?
I love to read! I just finished the Pure series, the Darkest Minds series, the 5th Wave series, and the Chaos Walking series. I’m in the last book of the Red Rising series now. In terms of business books, it’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger.
What is your morning routine?
Get up early, work or work out (depending on the day), drink lots of coffee, and spend time with the family before school and work.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
To be grateful. Every day, I pay attention to things that I’m thankful for. I love this quote from Kurt Vonnegut: Pay attention to the little things, because someday you’ll realize they were the big things.
What is your career advice for other young professional women?
First, live for the season. Sometimes you’ll do things you love, sometimes not so much. Sometimes you’ll have more time for yourself, sometimes you won’t. It all evens out over time, so enjoy the period you’re in and know it will change. Also err on the side of jumping in and trying things, sometimes, even before you feel ready. Stretch and spread your wings. Even if an opportunity doesn’t turn out to be the right one, you will have learned a lot of valuable stuff through the experience.