We had the good fortune of connecting with Lexi Savage and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lexi, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I ask myself regularly — is work/life balance REALLY possible? We talk about it a lot as a society but I often wonder, as I am striving to achieve it, is it really attainable? In my early twenties, at the beginning of my career, pre-kiddo and hubby, I rarely had fewer than three jobs (one full time and two part-time), was working on my degrees and still had plenty of time left to party. Not so sure about sleep! As I got further along in my career and completed my degrees I suddenly had more free time that I wasn’t sure what to do with — do I relax? No. I work more and harder, focus on my career and personal growth, create new goals, buy my first place and keep busy. But all that busyness adds up and eventually I found that I was really tired and was going to burn myself out fast if I didn’t try to find that elusive work/life balance. I was ready to rest and not always have something scheduled, to not be hyper-focused on the next big career goal and just enjoy life a little. This was probably also inspired by meeting the man who would later end up being my husband. I wanted to be able to spend time with him, take road trips, go out to dinner and not have to always be worried about work or my various calendar commitments. Around that same time I left a demanding 60 hour a week job that wasn’t fulfilling to start my career in the health and human services sector at United Way. I realized there that I could contribute to society, do meaningful work that makes a difference AND have boundaries that allow me to focus on my personal life! WOW! Amazing! Ten years later I don’t know that I have this work/life balance thing mastered, it still ebbs and flows, some days will be nonstop meetings that start early and end late, but other days are lighter and I can manage my time to do the things I need to do for myself and my family. Working for and with strong female leaders who also prioritize family, self-care and clear boundaries has helped me greatly and given me the ability to grant myself permission to say no when I need to, ignore that email until tomorrow, or play with my son without feeling an ounce of guilt. It’s a constant give and take and something I am always mindful of, but not too hard on myself about, because what’s the point in stressing over balance?! I think this as close as I am going to get to work/life balance for the foreseeable future and I feel pretty good about it!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career path did not lead me where I expected but I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up and all the stops I made along the way. I’ve been supporting myself since I was 16 due to a very complicated home life in my teen years, it was hard but it made me who I am today – it my built my work ethic and shaped my world view. Because of it, I have always been very self reliant and motivated because I knew the only person that could determine my success was me. Since I was on my own, I worked full time through college so it took me longer than most of my friends but when I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Art History I knew I wanted to work in the museum world. Thanks to a childhood connection and some perseverance, I landed my first “grown-up” job at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale. It was not in the arts like my degree but it was the best possible first job I could have hoped for. I fell into doing Public Relations which also was not what my degree was in but it was something I had a natural ability for as an extrovert with years of restaurant experience and a love of writing and schmoozing. That started the trajectory of my museum career which took me to the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art next, and finally the Norton Museum of Art where I stayed the longest, for six years. During my tenure at the Norton I went back to school to obtain my Master of Science in Nonprofit Management thinking it could lead to me running a museum one day or give me the chance to explore other kinds of nonprofits. Shortly after completing my Masters I decided it was time for a change and took an opportunity at a local boutique public relations firm, Tilson PR. There I had the opportunity to work with for-profit corporations, start ups and nonprofits — I learned so much and the experience helped me determine I was in fact a nonprofit girl at heart — they called to me. So when I saw a position open up at United Way of Palm Beach County, I went for it — full of insecurity and doubt that I was ready for a VP role — but I went for it anyway, I landed the position and it changed everything. I led the marketing and fundraising at United Way PBC for eight years, I learned from the best, I led the best, I developed deep and meaningful connections with my community, I discovered the joy of volunteerism and mentoring and I found that servant leadership was where my heart was. I felt truly fulfilled by my work and I understood how rare and valuable that was. I now work for United Way Worldwide, the global headquarters that supports 1800 United Ways around the world. I have the pleasure of supporting the 255 United Ways in the Southeast, connecting them to best practices, helping them to successfully achieve their missions and overcome obstacles. It’s the most rewarding work I’ve done and it fills me with gratitude to know that I have played a small part in the success of organizations that are truly changing lives and bolstering communities, especially during the most challenging year many of us have ever faced.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many great things to do and see in Palm Beach County, where I live, and throughout South Florida, it’s hard to choose but I do have some faves. Starting up in PBC, we take our son to adventure in state parks regularly, there are so many beautiful spots to see alligators, birds, turtles and scenes that look straight out of a Highwayman Painting. We frequent Green Cay, John D. MacArthur and Riverbend Park but are always looking for new places to explore the amazing nature that surrounds us here! I also love the downtown West Palm Beach area, from Rosemary Square to Clematis – there are so many great restaurants such as Kapow Noodlebar, Hullaballoo and Sassafras. Of course we’d have to swing by the Norton Museum for our art fix and Eau Palm Beach for a luxe spa day. One of my favorite things to do is take the Brightline from West Palm to Fort Lauderdale and Miami to explore the areas, hit the galleries and museums and of course, eat and drink! In Fort Lauderdale I love to visit the Museum of Discovery and Science and the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art (extra fun for me since I used to work at both!), stroll along Las Olas and have drinks and apps at the Riverside Hotel. In Miami, there are always new and fun things to discover but I like to hit Wynwood to check out the murals, new artists, a funky new warehouse brewery or chic little café. And I can’t forget the beach! All along the coast you can find a serene spot to enjoy the turquoise water and soft sand, soak up some sun and paddle board or snorkel – if you’re lucky you might spot a manatee or sea turtle!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first shout out goes to my tribe, my village – my husband, son, mom and in-laws. I am fortunate to have such a supportive and loving family. As we talk about work/life balance especially, they are the reason I want balance and simultaneously the reason I can achieve it. They are my everything and I am forever grateful.
I also have to shout out the amazing women I have worked for (and with) throughout my career. I have really lucked out in this regard – I have worked for a strong woman in literally every role I’ve had from my first job out of college at the Museum of Discovery and Science to my current role at United Way Worldwide. I truly would not be where I am today without these incredible leaders who have paved the way and taught me more than they’ll ever realize. I am so thankful.
Headshot Tracey Benson Photography