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Entrepreneurs - How to Develop a Spiritual Plan for a Happy and Healthy Lifestyle

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Entrepreneurs - How to Develop a Spiritual Plan for a Happy and Healthy LifestyleWorking long hours, working out of your home, or working and living with your spouse/business partner twenty-four hours a day leaves little time to recuperate inner strength. As the stress increases and the opportunity for recuperation diminishes, many entrepreneurial couples fall victim to stress related illnesses, mental or emotional problems, chemical dependency, and spiritual despair.

The process of losing your health (physical, psychological, interpersonal or otherwise) begins long before symptoms develop. The stress process begins the moment you allow any part of your life to be out of alignment. If one system (such as your body, your marriage, or your work) is unattended or allowed to stay out of healthy alignment for too long, it affects the other systems, which in turn produce stress and deterioration.

If you are going to manage the excessive stresses of entrepreneurial life you actually need more stamina than the average person. To combat the pressures caused by the competing demands of love and work and to build the necessary stamina for this complex lifestyle, you must build a power plan to maintain and enhance your health not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

How can you develop a spiritual plan for your entrepreneurial lifestyle?


Spirit or spirituality is not synonymous with religion or religious. Rather the spirit is the part of us that defines us and yet connects us to others. It has long been known that a strong healthy spirit will guide us successfully through adversity, whereas a conquered spirit will succumb to illness and death. Therefore, keeping spirit or life force healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in any life. For entrepreneurial couples especially, the key to effective stress management is the proper alignment and interaction of a healthy mind, a healthy body, and a healthy spirit.

Even if your life has led you in one of these stressful directions, don't despair. Make meaning of the experience and put the disaster into the context of your life. Then reorient that life to meet your values.

If one of those values is a belief in God, yet you are not attending to that spiritual relationship, the balance in your life is compromised and will inevitably lead you to some form of personal or interpersonal dysfunction. On the other hand, if you develop a stronger sense of self as belonging to something larger than just this earthly existence, and you make a commitment to that higher self (i.e. through prayer or inner contemplation), even when you have suffering, you will have a meaningful and prosperous life to share with the ones you love and work with.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, you can schedule a remote education session, and then we can discuss how to make your business/home life thrive.

Read more: Spiritual Component Essential to Healthy Entrepreneurial Life.

 

Are New Year’s Resolutions Too Superficial?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Every year you resolve to lose weight, quit drinking, or spend more time with family, yet the resolve fades, so why are New Year’s Resolutions so hard to keep? Every year you may resolve, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to quit drinking so much”, or “I want to spend more time with my family.” Yet as January fades away so does your resolve. Why is it that we can’t accomplish what we want? Because all too often we apply a band-aid when surgery is needed. We end up trying to fix the symptom or signal without addressing the real problem.

When problem solving the first question to ask yourself is, "Is this thing I’m observing the signal or the problem?" Recognizing and interpreting the signals is quite a complex process, but you can improve your skills.

However, there are two common mistakes people make when trying to solve a problem or create real change in their lives…

1. Ignoring signals until they grow into serious problems. For example, I often hear that people too busy to attend to themselves or their personal relationships. Too busy doing what? Working? You need to ask yourself why are you working so hard? Is that your goal? Most people want a close-knit family who enjoys being together. But if you’re too busy managing the nuts and bolts of a business or career and have no time to enjoy and communicate with your family, aren't you overriding one of the reasons why you working in the first place?

2. Mistaking 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. Discovering the meaning of the signals takes digger deeper.

The bottom line is that all human behavior is meaningful. But the meaning may come disguised as signals that look like problems themselves. For example, alcoholism is a signal of a pervasive illness. Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, may be a sign of overwork, too much stress, a lack of parental guidance, or even confusion in the work place. If you try to solve the problem of alcoholism by reducing the person's stress at work, the alcoholic may just have more time to drink. Likewise, if you recommend alcohol treatment for the person who is abusing alcohol, they may stop drinking but find other self-destructive methods to cope with problems at work.

Many New Year’s resolutions are superficial but the underlying problems most likely require deeper probing. So if there’s something about your life that isn’t working don’t just settle with a quickly forgotten resolution. Instead dig in, assess, diagnose and search out the meaning. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to figure out what the signals are telling you. I’ll help you tap into all the strengths at your disposal to create workable solutions.

Online Education is Ideal for Helping Your Family Business Thrive

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


online education is ideal for helping your family business thrive"How can I help my Dad? Dad and his brother run the family business that they inherited from their father, except my Dad does all of the work. Dad is stressed all of the time but doesn't want to disrupt the family. I'd like to come to work for my Dad but I don't want to be part of carrying my lazy uncle. What should I do?"

This was the first problem ever presented to me when I hosted a private Internet Chat for members of a family firm years ago. We "chatted" for about an hour, via our computers and covered a lot of territory. Even though the young man on the East Coast, he was able to get expert advice on the precise subject he needed help with because he was comfortable searching the Internet. And by the tone of his messages, he was pleased by the end of our hour to have a plan of action to present to his father.

This son didn’t feel comfortable calling his father's accountant or attorney to talk over the problem. Nor did he feel brave enough to confront his uncle or even his father on such a touchy subject. He could have hired his own local consultant or psychologist, but it might have been difficult finding an expert on families in business. But from the comfort and privacy of his home, he surfed the web until he found just what he needed. In this case it was a psychologist whose specialty is helping families in business solve those sticky problems that cross over from loving relationships into the business marketplace.

Technological advances continue to make online education advantageous for all business owners, but especially family business members. Online education is tailor made for travelers and those who work odd hours. You can get on line anywhere, anytime. The convenience means that you’ll probably take advantage of the service more often and get to the bottom of the problem faster. Online education is attractive to those who are too embarrassed to bring a problem up fact-to-face.

Over the years, I’ve encouraged my clients to educate themselves about life's problems by reading books and articles. Now in addition to some excellent books, I recommend highly regarded websites. Ignorance about life slows you down. Educating yourself helps reduce your fears and defensiveness. With knowledge comes confidence and with confidence comes creativity and with creativity, options and solutions start to materialize. And the convenience of online education shortens your problem solving time tremendously.

Of course there are downsides to this form of consultation too.
How do you know who you can trust? Is your e-mail or chat confidential? In addition to a wealth of helpful advice, there is a wealth of garbage and damaging material on the Internet. The surfer does have to beware. You can't assume because someone has a website that they are honorable, legal, credentialed, caring or experienced. However, if you use the same common sense you use in business to size up any person or situation, I think you can sort the wheat from the chaff.

If you have a family business and you’re wondering how to address a situation that’s impacting your business and your family please take a look at my Family Business column for some answers. If you could use some advice simply sign-up for a Remote Education session with me and get your work/home life questions answered.


Entrepreneurial Couples – What Should You Change in 2016 If Your Lifestyle Just Isn’t Working?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


Entrepreneurial Couples – What Should You Change in 2016 If Your Lifestyle Just Isn’t Working?Most entrepreneurial couples just wing it when it comes to business or marriage. They trust their drive, intelligence, and savvy to get them through life's roadblocks. But as life becomes more complicated by marriage, children, and an expanding business, the weaknesses in this style begin to emerge. Without a plan for the evolution of your marriage, family, or business, you may be very unprepared for the consequences. It is no surprise that most family-owned businesses never make it to the second generation.

Composing a life may be a better euphemism than life planning because it implies that life is art. The artist understands that the picture is more than the sum of its parts. The artist knows that when all of the elements are woven together, the tapestry takes on a life of its own. When you think about the business you have chosen to run with your spouse or partner, is it a representation of both of you or of some family history? How did you choose the name for your business? Does the name reflect a value or interest of yours? The answers to these questions reveal that it is not by chance that you are precisely at this point in your life.

It would be a lot easier to compose a life if you had a clean slate to start with. Unfortunately, you have probably been wandering around in life for a few decades already. You made decisions years ago that are still affecting you today. Some of these decisions can be changed; others are more permanent. Still others are perfectly good choices and are the foundation of the life you will begin composing today.

The first consideration in composing a life is to be brave. You may have to do radical surgery on yourself. You will probably find that your basic values as a human being are sound, but that their expression in the real world will have to change. When you were a young adult in your early twenties, developing a relationship with your new spouse was based on the needs and goals of youth. Your marriage today, as an older, wiser couple, may require revamping to keep up with individual, family, and business development. Even the business in which you chose to involve yourself may have been suited to you at thirty, but at forty-five has lost its appeal.

When people face a crisis or even just an ordinary problem, they are tempted to try a simple change. They change jobs, change spouses, build a new house, and so on. These simple changes are supposed to make them feel better—and sometimes they do, for a while. But in the long run the new job fizzles, the new spouse presents problems remarkably similar to those the previous spouse presented, and the new house is still not quite big enough.

Rather than waste your time with pointless changes, compose a life, and plan for meaningful change. Change your map of reality to include the possibilities that you (your spouse and your family) are capable of, even if this involves painful and difficult work. In other words, composing a life that works this time probably means changing your concept of the interdependence of love and work.

Are you ready to compose a new life plan as an entrepreneurial couple? You can order a copy of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, to get my more advice on how to do it successfully, including my 7 Ground Rules for Successful Life Planning. Do you have a question for me? Sign-up for a Remote Education session with me to get some answers.

What Will You Do When It’s Time to Turn Over the Family Business?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


what to do when it's time to turn over the family businessRecently the New York Times reported that the Dolan family (of Knicks, the Rangers and Madison Square Garden Co. fame) has sold part of their family business empire, Cablevision, to Altice, a European media company for $17 billion. Over forty years ago Charles F. Dolan started the business and he later handed the reins over to his son, James.

Rather than creating a succession plan to keep that part of their business in the family, the Dolans chose to let it go. What will you do with your business? Have you prepared for who will take care of your business in the future? Will you split it up like the Dolans did?

There are two considerations to think about when it comes to succession planning – what’s best for the business and what’s best for the family.

The truth is that the relationships that we hold most dear are those of our family (whether or not we hold them fondly or with resentment). Within the context of a family business this fact is quite evident. Regardless of how successful, famous or old the family business, the family still comes first. Understandably the system that has been around the longest has priority.

Gerald Le Van, an attorney explains this concept from the perspective of the changes that have occurred in the business world. The Industrial Revolution created the philosophy that the business world was like a clock, where the goal was maximum industrial productivity at minimum cost, and workers were a collection of individuals or parts of the machine. Today, however, the business world is not envisioned like a clock, but like a rain forest. According to Le Van, "Enterprises are no longer machines, but ecosystems whose fitness to survive is determined by their relationships to other organizational ecosystems in the rain forest world. Enterprises are no longer collections of individuals, but systems."

Within the world of family business the rain forest model is very effective.
Family firms are a system of family members, in-laws, shareholders and stakeholders. These systems interact with vendors, customers, employees, and the commercial community at large. It is a delicate balance to maintain a successful business and a successful family enterprise when the systems are integrated into a family firm. The stress on the system becomes even greater when it is time to develop a plan for the continuity of the business and the family, and a fair apportionment of the wealth. If the family does not have mature and healthy interpersonal relationships, the process of estate planning can be costly, painful and unsuccessful.

When it comes to dealing with intricate and complex relationships your CPA or attorney may not be best the person to help you. This is why many family businesses turn to a psychologist to help them address the soft side of estate planning. A psychologist who’s specialize is family business can help you negotiate a succession plan that is equitable and fair. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you live elsewhere, consider taking advantage of Remote Education for Entrepreneurs.

Is It Time to Renew Your Marriage Contract?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Renew your wedding contractYour marriage contract is more than a marriage license. It’s a group of assumptions that you made about marriage and your partner and yourself. The assumptions you first made at age 22 may not fit at 42. No doubt the assumptions that guided you through those first years altered as you had children, then altered again as the children entered college or when you started a business or changed your profession and so on. Did you think to sit down and analyze what you wanted or what was best given each new set of circumstances? Did you discuss it together as a couple? Sadly most couples do not, which causes many couples to drift apart.

How can you renew your commitment to each other through a renegotiated marriage contract?

  • Schedule a weekend away so you can relax and discuss this.
  • Each should privately identify what he or she now wants from the marriage - write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Be flexible with yourself and your partner as circumstances change.
  • Let go of old ways that are no longer appropriate.
  • Keep your basic values in tact.
  • Identify goals that are in the best interests of your marriage and individually.
  • Discuss with your partner how to divide family responsibilities equitably.
  • Overcome the inevitable fears.

I often hear people say, "I'm not going to change; you knew who I was when you married me; you better be happy with that!" Things do change and people move on. All of us change daily and it's doubtful that you’re the same person you were twenty years ago. And neither is your spouse. Complaints about change are coming from a place of fear...fear of change and fear of the unknown. Change is inevitable. It will either overtake you or you can plan a little and guide the change process. It's your choice.

Evaluate your situation now. Is it time to talk with your spouse and make some changes before they erupt into irreconcilable differences? Have you lost your sense of identity over time? Have conflicts already eruped? Many couples have found that they can more easily and calmly open this conversation when an impartial family counselor is involved. If you live near Portland, Oregon, please contact my office and set up an appointment. I would be delighted to help you reconnect with your lifelong partner and make the next stage of your life more fulfilling.

If you're in business together make sure to download my free Checklist for Entrepreneurial Couples. Click on the image below...


Learn Six Valuable Lessons from Successful Family Businesses

Monday, September 28, 2015


learn six lessons from successful family businessesOne of the best ways to learn is by watching what other people do to succeed. While your individual situation may differ, you can watch other family businesses and glean valuable insights into how they make a success of it.

I found a nice resource in the six videos in a recent New York Times article that highlight the ups and downs of family businesses. I enjoyed the videos stories that small business writer, Stacy Cowley, collected. Through these real life stories she gleaned six important lessons that every entrepreneurial family can learn from...

A great support team is vital to the leader’s success. Watch a story about a bow tie business started by a nine-year-old boy, and how his mom and extended family members support him.

Don’t wait to the last minute to train the next generation, rather integrate a succession plan gradually so everyone feels comfortable in their new role. Watch a story about how a fifth-generation brewery owner helped his four daughters fit into the business.

You don’t need to know everything before you start your business. Watch the story of an immigrant who saw an opportunity, seized it, and has grown it into a family business.

Because of the family connection, family members often work harder to make your business succeed. Watch two brothers who fought as children grow into a close-knit business venture.

Families should consider what’s in the long-term best interest for the business. Watch the story of how loyal customers and employees brought a man back to his CEO position even when it was a cousin who ousted him.

Entrepreneurial families should enjoy the business and have fun. Watch the story of a woodworking craftsman as he shares his passion and business philosophy with his son.

Click here to access the videos.

Are you thinking of starting a family business and want to get it off on the right foot? Or do you see areas that could use improvement before real problems break out? Consulting a business coach has helped many to open up a dialog among the family members that creates a better work environment. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, please take advantage of my Remote Education for Entrepreneurial Couples and Families. Learn more by clicking here.
 

Does Avoiding Confrontation Improve Relationships?

Friday, August 28, 2015


Avoiding confrontation or conflict in a relationship isn’t healthy because conflict is a sign of growth as you open up communication on a difficult subject.Are you like so many people who hate confrontation and conflict? Do you give in on even big issues just so you don’t have to fight for your point of view? If so, you’re not alone. But please consider is this the best way to handle communication in your relationships? Is it healthy to have this attitude?

Listening, talking, communicating, resolving problems, making joint decisions... these are requirements for all healthy relationships. Without good communication skills and quality time dedicated to communicating, relationships soon flounder and fail, especially among people experiencing stress in their lives.


There’s a common misconception that conflict and confrontation are bad. Couples may fight openly or quietly seethe, but they have a terrible time confronting the real conflict respectfully and honestly. It's as if confrontation and conflict are impolite.

However, conflict and confrontation are natural and healthy components of any relationship. You’re neither bad nor wrong for causing a conflict or identifying one. Conflict is an opportunity to open up communication on a difficult subject. Don’t fear conflict and confrontation. Conflicts are inevitable and actually a sign of growth.

Good communication means you don’t avoid conflict, rather you enhance your problem solving skills beyond simple linear cause and effect (i.e. blame). You develop effective tools to "lean into" conflicts and resolve them early on, so that you can reorganize your lives to include the new learning.


Compromising, acquiescing, or forcing your opinion on others are NOT effective tools!

Does that surprise you? After all, isn't compromise a requirement of any partnership? The reality is that decisions arrived at through compromise or force usually lack creativity and seldom last. Sure, an occasional compromise may be necessary for the sake of expediency. But if a decision is important, a compromise may cause deepening anger and resentment. Both people feel they’re giving up something in order to get an agreement, and the decision is a watered-down version of two stronger opinions.

If you don't make time to talk, if you don't nurture your personal relationship, your relationship will disintegrate into bitterness and divorce. So take the time now to evaluate your communication skills and invest the time to develop a meaningful, loving relationship with your spouse.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to get outside help to get your relationship back on track. If you’d like to consult a family therapist and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference. It may be the first and best step that enables you to rebuilding a warm and close relationship.


Read more on my website: Conflict and Communication.

How to Break Through the Isolation You Feel in a Family Business

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


feeling isolated in a family businessThe man on the other end of the line was speaking softly, so I had to listen carefully. "I don't know if you can help me," he said. "My wife and I are having problems. She doesn't even know I'm calling you, and I'm not sure she will even agree to see you." I reassured him that I was willing to help even if his wife was a little reluctant to seek consultation. "But I am not even sure you can help," he said, "because our situation is kind of unique."

"How's that?" I inquired. "Let me know what your special concerns are, and together we will decide if it is something I can help you with."

The man paused, composing his thoughts so that he could succinctly describe his "unique" situation to me. "Well, it's just that we work together and it is causing a lot of problems. I really love my wife, but employees are complaining about her to me and that puts me in the middle. And at home, things are pretty tense too. She doesn't seem happy with me at all. I think maybe there's a kind of competition thing going on. So you see, this is kind of an unusual situation, and I am not sure you know much about this sort of thing, or if anyone does."

More often than not, this is how my first conversation with a member of an entrepreneurial couple goes. One spouse or the other calls, with trepidation about whether anyone can help. The isolation of entrepreneurial couple life has led them to believe that their situation is unique, when in fact, entrepreneurial couples are quite common.

In addition, the assumption that the other spouse is reluctant to seek consultation is also common. This assumption, however, is often incorrect. Entrepreneurs are usually so busy working and not communicating intimately with their business partner/spouse, that they don't realize that he or she is just as concerned about their problems as is the caller.

Making the phone call to me was a first step toward self-awareness for that entrepreneurial husband. Realizing that you are not alone is a powerful thing. Knowing that others have gone before you somehow makes it easier to explore the challenging territory of couple entrepreneurship.

In my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, I have a series of in-depth exercises to help entrepreneurial couples examine all areas of their work and home life including money, health and parenting. Self-awareness is too important to be left to moments of crisis. Since change is inevitable and nothing lasts forever, people who seek out change and opportunities for purposeful growth will be one step ahead of others.

And remember, even the most serious heartache you have ever faced—be it an extramarital affair, financial loss, drug addiction, physical disease, or divorce—can provide an opportunity for growth and add to your wisdom. Those of you brave enough to really look at the serious dysfunction in your lives can still develop a meaningful entrepreneurial life with your spouse and family. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment or consider remote consultation if you live out of the area.

Successful Estate Plans Consider the Soft Side of the Family First

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


consult a psychologist before estate planning so you sort out the family business issues firstMost entrepreneurs are so caught up in the passion of their enterprise that they rarely plan ahead for the wealth that accumulates. As a result, when it comes time to develop an estate plan, many entrepreneurs are at a loss for where to start.

It would seem that the logical place to start is with your attorney, CPA, investment advisor or banker. However, while all of these professionals should play a part in the development of your estate plan eventually, the first stop on the way to a successful estate plan is the psychologist's office to deal with the soft side of the family business. Many an estate plan has been left undeveloped because the interpersonal relationships in the family were counter to the best interests of the business.

Family firms are a system of family members, in-laws, shareholders and stakeholders. These systems interact with vendors, customers, employees, and the commercial community at large. It’s a delicate balance to maintain a successful business and a successful family enterprise when the systems are integrated into a family firm. The stress on the system becomes even greater when it’s time to develop a plan for the continuity of the business and the family, and a fair apportionment of wealth. If the family doesn’t have mature and healthy interpersonal relationships, the process of estate planning can be costly, painful and unsuccessful.

Consider for example a CEO who is about to retire. He has two daughters and wants to gives each daughter an equal share. One daughter has worked with him for years. The other daughter has never worked for her father but now that he’s retiring, she and her husband want to take a more active position in the company. The first daughter feels she deserves to continue as the president of the company. And she is not pleased about her sister's new interest. Nor does she like her father's decision to treat them equally. Where this family once got along fine, a new problem is growing that they never had to face before. How would you are your advisors handle this "hot potato"?

To create an estate plan that truly integrates the success of the family and the firm, it’s necessary to seek the help of a psychologist who understands the soft side of families and particularly those families who are in business together. Cleaning up root interpersonal problems is essential to the development of a meaningful estate plan that doesn’t increase family conflict. For example, with the help of a psychologist, the father with two daughters learned that "fair" was more appropriate than "equal" when it came to dividing the wealth and the business with his daughters.

If you have worked hard to create an enterprise you can be proud of and want to pass a legacy onto your children and grandchildren, first evaluate the soft side of your family system for any unresolved issues. Then take these concerns to a psychologist trained to help with untangling family knots and reweaving a healthy family/business tapestry. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.
Entrepreneurial Couples Checklist for Success


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