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Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

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Kathy Marshack News

Interview with Dr. Kathy Marshack on Entrepreneurial Couples

Monday, February 07, 2011


Married couples who share ownership, management and responsibility for a business are known as co-entrepreneurial couples or "copreneurs." This type of relationship is unique and for the marriage and business to be successful, extra patience and thoughtfulness is required.
 
Shani Leccima of MarriedMillions.com interviewed me about this unique type of relationship. The interview is based around my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. Click here to listen to the interview.
 
Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is available for purchase on my website. The book examines the traps entrepreneurial couples can fall into and offers practical advice for dealing with them. 

How to Manage Work Related Stress

Monday, January 03, 2011


What is a major complaint for most working Americans? Stress! Work related stress can leave you exhausted, frustrated, and angry. It will affect your overall sense of well- being, your physical health, and your productivity.

If it feels like your life is spinning out of control then it’s time to call a psychologist or other mental health professional. However, most of the time there are a few simple things that you can do to manage your work stress:

Get sufficient rest.
Sleep is non-negotiable. In order for you mind and body to function properly, you must rest. If you are not getting enough sleep, whatever negative thoughts you have will only be aggravated. The average adult should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Establish a healthy lifestyle.
General health and stress resistance can be enhanced by a regular exercise, a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and by avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

Keep perspective and look for the positive.
Work to reverse negative ideas and learn to focus on the positive. For example, in today's economy, even having a job is a blessing. Even if you find that the positives are few and far between, make a conscious choice to focus on them.

Be balanced with yourself and your workload.
You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. You cannot do everything. Are you the one actually putting too much pressure on yourself to perform in a certain manner? Can you delegate some of the work to someone else? Set clear boundaries with yourself and your work. Establish what your job requirements are and if it is reasonable, then stick to it.

Have a sense of humor.
Keeping a sense of humor is a common recommendation. Laughing releases the tension of pent-up feelings and helps you keep perspective. Research has shown that humor is a very effective mechanism for coping with stress.

Express your feelings.
If you are having problems with someone at work and that’s the cause of your stress, talk to them about it. The goal of the conversation should not be to attack the person, but to come together and create a solution. Holding on to negative feelings will progressively get worse and many times the problem grows out of proportion.

These are just a few steps to take to help ease your work stress level. If problems persists, you may need professional help. Click here for more information on Managing Stress.

Love, Hate and Guilt in Family Business Relationships

Monday, December 20, 2010


Love+Hate=Guilt. How many of you have this type of relationship with one or more of your parents? Or how many of you have felt like this at least once with your parents? Or are you suspicious that this is how your teenage or grown children feel about you?

Unfortunately these feelings are all too common among parents and children. They are the natural byproducts of normal human development that has not been allowed to progress to completion. Anger and love are healthy human emotions that emerge often in our daily lives. Guilt, on the other hand, is not a normal nor healthy human emotion (unless of course you have legitimately committed a serious offense). To feel guilty for being angry at your parent or child is a misunderstanding of the relationship.

Dealing with these emotions is vital in any relationship, but especially for those in a family firm. How is the business to prosper if children coming up into the business never correct the errors of their predecessors? How is the business to remain competitive if you hang onto old ways just because you are afraid to confront a parent or grandparent? On the other hand, if you trust that your love for this person and their love for you is strong enough to handle the confrontation, you both benefit by getting things out in the open.

If you want to clear up the Love+Hate=Guilt relationship you have with your parents or children, take a moment to do the following exercise:
  1. As honestly as possible, list your loved one's flaws, mistakes and even downright nasty traits. Make sure you include everything that makes you really angry about this person.
  2. Now list all of those traits you admire and are grateful for.
  3. As you review these lists, ask yourself, which traits are you carrying on, in the family tradition. Be honest. You might ask your spouse for feedback because you may feel so guilty that you cannot acknowledge your parents flaws, or your own.
  4. Finally, make a plan of action to change the negative counterproductive traits.

This little exercise is very revealing. By feeling guilty and by avoiding blame you may inadvertently be carrying on the same mistakes generation after generation. The goal of each generation should be to improve upon the goals of the last, not repeat mistakes. By holding your parents accountable you are more free to do this. I hope by now that you realize that blame is not really the answer, but that accountability is. Be respectful in your confrontations. Tell your parents what they did that hurt or angered you, but treat them as if they are human beings quite capable of accepting responsibility for their mistakes and capable of correcting them.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business.

 

Pay Attention to Signals and You Can Problem Solve Before the Crisis Hits

Saturday, November 20, 2010


When it comes to problem solving, recognizing and interpreting the signals that others give us is crucial. For some of us, that does not come naturally, but if you take a little bit of time, you will be able to improve your skills. If you do, you will be able to minimize crises before they materialize.

One common error is to mistake signals for the problem.

 

When a person is angry or aggressive, we tend to listen, but when a person is quiet or passive, we tend to ignore them. Actually, those behaviors are signals of something. Just what they are signals of remains to be discovered. The key is that all human behavior is meaningful. But the meaning may come disguised as signals that look like problems themselves.

For example, one husband was beside himself because his wife could not keep the house clean. The couple ran the a business from their home. Although the husband was out all day with customers, the wife was at home taking care of the four small children, answering business calls, and running the company office. The couple had already problem solved somewhat and come up with occasional day care and even a once a month house cleaner, but still the house was a mess.

The problem was they were focusing on the messy house instead of what it represented. In this case, it represented that the wife was torn about her goals. She wanted to be part of the business, but she also wanted to parent her children. Making more time for her to clean the house, a chore she really didn't like anyway, wasn't the solution. What worked, however, was to set up a system where she could participate in both worlds without them overlapping so much.

Whenever confronted with a dilemma (Is it a signal or a problem?), ask yourself, "How does this behavior make sense to the person engaging in the behavior?" Don't ask, "How does it make sense to me?"

If the behavior belongs to someone else, chances are it makes sense in their model of reality, which may look very different than yours. In the case of the couple with the messy house, what made sense according to the wife's model of reality is that the wife wanted to have a neat house but she wanted something else more. In order to get a clean house, it was necessary to help her accomplish what was more important first.

While some solutions are easy and superficial, many problems require deeper probing. While a band-aid may suffice for a while, it will save a lot of wasted energy and questioning if surgery is done immediately. So, when you see a signal, probe, dig, and most important, don't ignore it. If you can’t figure out what the signals mean it might be time to ask a therapist for help.

If you’re an entrepreneur visit Entrepreneurial Life for more information.

How to Accurately Assess Your Management Style in a Family Firm

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Being the owner-manager of a family firm requires juggling many roles not just with family members but with employees as well. The way marital and family obligations are handled affects management style with employees and vice versa.

 

For example, in family firms where spouses work together, management style must be assessed in three arenas: 1) marital, 2) parenting, and 3) business management. Furthermore, the integration of these three styles must be assessed.

What is your marital style? Are you both leaders? Is one the leader and the other the support person? Does the style change depending on context? Are you a team? Or are you both separate and dedicated to your own spheres? Does your marital style differ greatly from your parenting style or your management style? Whatever your marital style - know it. Don't assume that it is irrelevant in your family firm. If it is incompatible with the business, then you will have many problems. Employees sense the discrepancies. They know when there has been a marital fight.

What kind of a parent are you? If a couple has children, whether they work in the business or not, be aware of parenting style too. Parenting style is affected by business-management style and vice versa. Those lessons are translated to the work place. Are you an authoritarian parent? Are you permissive? Are you authoritative? Parenting style is obviously related to marital style. If two marital partners do not think alike about parenting, there will be a disorganized, and possibly, very depressed family. Equally so, it is important that parent/owners determine if they are treating employees the way they treat their children.

What about your management style? Management styles can be categorized as one of the four styles: 1) telling, 2) selling, 3) participative, 4) delegating. Which are you? Are you apt to tell employees what to do? Or do you build a good case for what they should do? Or do you include employees or other managers in the process of developing new business? Finally, are you inclined to run the show yourself but delegate tasks to team members?

After honestly assessing these three arenas, keep these four important points in mind:

1. Accept who you are. Whatever your style, it is probably the most comfortable way for you to be. This doesn't mean there is no room for improvement. But it's best to start with who you are and then to build marital, parental, and management styles around your personality.

2. Accept your spouse's style, too. She or he has developed a certain personality that is unlikely to change. Rather, you two are looking for ways for both of you to realize your full potential.

3. When considering a parenting style, not only do your consider your partner's style, but you must also include the personalities and needs of your children. Most parents are astounded at how wildly different each one of their children are.

4. Remember that your management style at work is more related to your marital and parenting styles than you realize. It is in the family that we first learn to relate to others. How you treat employees and how you want them to treat you is dependent upon your understanding and utilization of these early lessons.

Understanding your unique management style in the workplace and how you have integrated past and present family lessons into a family business will help you to be flexible and to adapt to whatever may come. I work with family businesses in the Portland/Vancouver area to help them balance family issues with business issues – click here for more about my work with Entrepreneurial Couples.

My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is also available for purchase.

Do You Bicker with Your Spouse?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Is bickering all too common in your household? Granted, conflicts will arise in a marriage, but it is important to get bickering under control. If you don't, then you could be heading down the road to divorce. It may be difficult at first to change the way you handle these types of conflict. It is important to remember that effort is required!

Here are a few tips to resolve bickering:

1. Remember that the differences between the two of you are probably some of the reasons that made you fall in love with each other.
You probably didn't focus at the time on everything that you didn't like about your new love. In fact, you may have never noticed anything that big, but instead viewed those differences as thrilling. But over time, the differences between the two of you surface more and more often. One way to get past the bickering is to remind yourself that you love and admire this person. Focus on those qualities, not the behavior that annoys you.

2. Keep in mind that people change.
Our basic personalities probably don't change that much, but how we apply our personalities to the experiences in life does shape and define us. Your spouse may be showing you a side of him or herself that you never knew existed. Be careful not to resist this new information because it is different. Give yourself time to adjust to the change. Talk about it with your spouse. Change may be painful, but it is the very nature of living things to change.

3. Spend quality time together.
In this day and age, it is easy to be all consumed with work and leave little time with your spouse. Think about it. If you are bickering with your spouse, could it be because you have had no quality time lately? Or could it be because you are sleep-deprived? Or could it be that it's been a long time since you laughed? Take the time to set your priorities and follow them. There will always be another phone call to answer and another deadline to meet that will draw you away from balancing your priorities. But you don't get that many chances to restore a faltering relationship.

If you find that you cannot get your bickering under control, it may be time to seek the help from a marriage counselor. There may be other underlying problems that need to be dealt with. Click here for more information about Marriage Counseling. If you’re an “entrepreneurial couple” you can get specific communication advice in my book – Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home.

7 Questions to Ask If You’re Interested In Working From Home

Thursday, July 29, 2010


For some, working from home sounds ideal. No morning/evening commute, no boss breathing down your neck, no dress code. . . These are just a few reasons why it may sound appealing. It is very important to weigh the pros and cons before making such a big decision as moving your office to the home.

 

I have worked from home for over 25 years so I’ve given this topic a lot of thought. I also work as a consultant for family businesses that are run from a home office. Some people thrive in that environment but for others it quickly becomes a nightmare!

 

I’ve compiled a list of 7 questions that I recommend asking yourself before making such a decision. Be sure to answer each question honestly.

1. Does your neighborhood allow home-based businesses? Are there any zoning restrictions?

2. Is your neighborhood a suitable location for your business?

3. Is your property well maintained with adequate parking for your clients/customers?

4. Does your house have a business office area suitable to your business' needs? Can visitors get to your business office without going through your entire house?

5. Does your family understand your plans and are they supportive?

6. Do you work well without supervision? Are you self-disciplined?

7. Do you mind being alone for long stretches of time?

For more information about the Entrepreneurial Life and making it work for you, click here.

Is It Really A Good Idea To Work With Your Spouse?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Working with your loved one can be very rewarding. As I have said often, “Who better to trust with your business than your spouse?” However, there is another side that should be looked at if you are considering the entrepreneurial couple life. It is important to think through this decision thoughtfully since whatever you decide will impact your marriage.

Here are some important things to consider:

WILL YOU HAVE TIME FOR ROMANCE? One of the major complaints I hear from practically all entrepreneurial couples is that they no longer have enough quality time together for romance and friendship.

CAN YOU HANDLE COMPETITION IN YOUR MARRIAGE? Another cause for stress with entrepreneurial couples is competition between them. This goes for other family members too. We have a strong need for recognition and approval from our spouses. We also have a strong need to feel like powerful, accomplished adults. But how do you feel about competing with your spouse? Who’s the boss? Who defers to whom? Can you gloat about an accomplishment when you just bested your spouse?

COULD YOU SUFFER FROM A LACK OF CREATIVITY? Many members of family enterprises complain that their world is small. In other words they don’t get out much, especially women. When you work with family members, the only feedback you get is from family and this can be limiting. Working separately enables each partner to learn about the outside world more.

WILL YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR YOURSELF? As important as it is to reconnect with your loved ones at least once a day, it is also important to have time to yourself. Seldom do I hear entrepreneurial couples complain that they have too much time with their spouses, but they do complain that they have no time to themselves.

My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Home and at Work, discusses the many pitfalls that entrepreneurial couples fall into and offers practical advice on how to deal with them. Or visit Couples at Work and Home on my website.

Entrepreneurs Find Time To Vacation With Family

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Summer is just around the corner. Have you planned your family’s vacation yet? Maybe you think you’re too busy. One solution is to take a look at ways to integrate your business trip with the family vacation.

It is important to raise children who have a sense of belonging to a family with parents who are professionals. The children see the work as part of who their parents are ... and they are part of it too. Integrating a family/business vacation is much easier now with the help of hotels and resorts who cater to business travelers who wish to bring their children with them. While Mom and Dad are at their business meetings, or downloading their e-mail, the children are able to participate in events sponsored and supervised by hotel staff.

However, there is a potential problem. Workaholics may never learn how to leave work. Combining work and play as I have described above is one alternative, but another is to plan vacations without work in mind at all. Pure family fun is vital for recharging the entire family.

As a family who also happens to be in business together, you have the sophisticated task of integrating the needs of family and the needs of business. If your spouse and your children feel a part of your work, they are in a better position to help with business growth, even if only as interested stakeholders. And if you are willing to take time from your busy schedule to play with your children and family, even at a business conference or trade show, you are sending a very important message. That is, no matter how important the business, no matter how you wish the business to succeed, what’s the point if you cannot share your successes with the ones you love?

Are Family Businesses Really Different?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Many people who work in family-owned businesses, or family firms, have never stopped to think of the concerns that are unique to family businesses. While about half of the gross national product comes from family owned businesses, and roughly half of America's workers are employed in family firms, the family business is seldom seen as having issues of any significant difference than other sole proprietorships, partnerships or corporations.

Inc. Magazine decided it was time to dig deeper into family business issues. Author, Christine Lagorio recently posted the article entitled, How to Run a Family Business, which discusses how to run your family business the right way. She interviewed experts on this topic asking them to share their advice and lessons learned. Since I’m a Family Business Coach and the author of, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home, I was able to share some practical tips for family businesses. I discussed the value of determining what your family style is and working that into your business, as well as the importance of writing a formal business-partnership agreement. Click here to read the article in its entirety.

If you would like to learn more about family business or being an entrepreneurial couple, please visit the Entrepreneurial Life section of my website.


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