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Kathy Marshack News

My Recent Radio Interviews on BBC about Entrepreneurial Couples

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


entrepreneurial coupleI was recently interviewed about entrepreneurial couples by Owen Clegg of BBC World Service–Newsday programme, the world’s largest international broadcast radio network. I shared how common it is for couples to work together and how they can bring fresh ideas into their work environment. Within the hour I received another call from the BBC, they wanted another interview on the same subject so I spoke with Nuala McGovern.

Why all the interest in entrepreneurial couples?

An entrepreneurial couple is in the news this month. A Norwegian couple, May-Britt and Edvard Moser just won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with their former supervisor, neuroscientist John O’Keefe at University College London. The Moser’s really are a remarkable couple. They have been working together for 30 years, 28 of which they’ve been married, researching how the brain handles navigation. Scientific American recently carried an article about their exciting discoveries.

The Mosers are an excellent example of a couple who harmoniously live, love and work together. They’re raising a family, sharing their scientific passion and love for the outdoors, especially volcanoes. But they don’t do everything together, for example May-Britt runs every other day, while Edvard hikes at weekends.

They’ve found a good balance at work. Edvard focuses on the computing and theory, while May-Britt manages the lab, staff and the experiments. “We have different strengths and we know that by combining them, the results become so much better,” says Edvard.

If you’d like to listen to the interview with Owen Clegg you can access it here. My interview with Nuala McGovern about the stresses and the opportunities that are open to entrepreneurial couples is available here.

Entrepreneurial couples have been part of our society for centuries. There are rewards but there are often painful challenges – especially now when life is so busy and complicated. A family business consultant can facilitate the adjustments into a life where couples can work and live together joyfully and productively. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you don’t live in the area you may benefit from the personal video education I offer entrepreneurial couples.

Learn more on my website: Couples in Business and Entrepreneurial Life.

Read my book: Entrepreneurial Couples - Making It Work at Work and at Home.

Workaholics - Do You Have to be Desperate before Seeking Help?

Monday, September 29, 2014


you don't have to be sick to get better“I don’t have time to be sick!” If you’re like many today, especially entrepreneurial couples who are running a demanding business, you’ve probably said this yourself. As a result, you may put off going to a doctor until the symptoms progress to an extreme point, maybe even to the point of irreparable damage. We’ve all heard stories of how people could be alive today if they had only visited a doctor at the beginning of the symptoms of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

The same can be said about mental health. At times, in our busy lives, the symptoms gradually creep up until it’s impossible to ignore the feelings of overwhelming anxiety or depression. Then a person is forced into dealing with crises rather than having the choice to live purposefully.

What are some symptoms that a mental health crisis is looming on your horizon? Do you find yourself thinking thoughts like these?

  • I’m so tired.
  • I don’t care.
  • I don’t enjoy doing the things I once did.
  • I’m not happy.
  • Nothing I do turns out right.
  • Why should I even try.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m bored.
  • I can’t focus or concentrate. I feel so disconnected.
  • I don’t want to think about it…I just want to stay busy.
  • My life isn’t as bad as that guy’s life, so I don’t deserve help.
  • Just suck it up and keep pushing through it.
  • It’s not my fault. You made me do it.

There are also physical symptoms that your mental health needs attention. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it illustrates the body’s reaction to mental distress:

  • Tight muscles - body pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • TMJ- Grinding your teeth
  • Clenched fists
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating palms
  • Self medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent anger and irritation
  • Throwing or breaking things
  • Road Rage
  • Mood swings

On the other hand, what can you gain by courageously committing to good mental health?

It improves your sense of personal well-being. When you catch problems early on, you recover more quickly, without lasting emotional and psychological scars. Utilizing the full range of your conscious and unconscious talents, unburdened by neurotic hang-ups, creates opportunities that you never knew were there before. A healthy mind also draws to you other healthy people. In a family business or any endeavor for that matter, having mentally healthy employees, coworkers and family members can only improve business functioning. It will keep your business competitive and successful.

People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they require less physical health care, even reducing medical and surgical costs.

Don’t wait another day. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SICK TO GET BETTER. Just as many find that a physical fitness trainer is beneficial for keeping them on track; a mental health professional can provide the support and objective eye to help you achieve optimal mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to increase your sense of well being, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

Thinking About Turning Over the Family Business?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


father grooming son for family businessAfter years of building a successful business, many owners want to keep it in the family. That brings up the difficult issue of succession. Perhaps your children and grandchildren have grown up with the business. And as they’ve gained abilities, they’ve become valuable members of the family firm. While your children may be highly skilled in their particular specialty, do they have what it takes to lead your team to excellence in your industry?

The qualities of a leader are many. And to some extent the type of leadership style that works in one setting may not work in another. What is common to all successful leaders however, is the ability to communicate with his or her subordinates, colleagues and superiors. The confident leader communicates this confidence and encourages the best from others.

Leaders of family firms who want the best for their families and their business confront the problem of cultivating leadership openly and honestly. They insist on training the next generation in the development of problem solving skills, communication skills, confrontation skills as well as the skills of the specific product manufactured. They also need what I call “the resilience factor", which embraces the qualities of flexibility, a win-win philosophy, quality over quantity, toughness, and foresight.

There are a variety of strategies for ensuring that the second generation in family firms is prepared. The strategy that fits for you depends upon the business, the parent's skills and personality and the skills and personalities of the children.

The child needs an environment where they must prove themselves capable of leadership in the family business. For some this means leaving the business for awhile and working elsewhere. For others, it means getting an education before returning to the family business. Another child may benefit by working their way up from the "mailroom" with no preferential treatment from the parents. Finally, some children will be better family members and more capable adults if they never return to the family business.

There are two goals in family firms. One is to develop a thriving business. The second is to develop healthy independent adults who can contribute to society.

Keep in mind that the business can be successful without the child and the child can be successful without the business. That is, set your sights on accomplishing both goals independent of each other, and you may be surprised how they come together in the long run.

Often it helps to get an objective view of your family and business. A psychologist is skilled at helping you sort out your choices and get clear on your objectives when making big decisions in life. If you’re ready to gain that kind of clarity in your own life, make an appointment with my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office.

How to Create a More Positive Work Environment for Your Family Business

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


positive work environment for family businessWho hasn’t felt job stress? We all deal with it because we spend so much of our lives working secularly. The good news is that there are many positive changes we can make to create a work environment that reduces the stress that we feel. If you work with your family it’s more important than ever to create a positive work environment.

Take a look at a couple of ways you can enhance your family work environment:

1. Improve your physical surroundings by creating a more restful space.

Redecorate. Lighten up your space with a fresh colors, photos, plants, motivational sayings, or items that have special meaning to you. If you’re the boss, you may even want to try a new color of wall paint.

De-Clutter. How long has it been since everything was moved and thoroughly cleaned? Do you have piles of papers, books, files stacked on your desk or shelves? That clutter has a real psychological impact on your brain.

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine discovered that there are two regions of the brain that are stimulated when a person sorts through their possessions with the intent of disposing of some of them. These are the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, which also stimulate the feeling of physical pain. That means that if you have a tendency toward hoarding and you discard a valued possession, in effect your brain says that loss is the same pain as stubbing your toe. The more invested emotionally or financially in the item, the more pain there is.

Organize. You can prevent clutter by designating a specific place for everything that comes into the office. File things as soon as possible. And sort to-do items according to what must be done today, this week, and this month. The more organized you become the less stress you’ll have.

2. Improve relationships with coworkers by create opportunities for good communication. When we work with family, it’s easy to take one another for granted. However, it’s good to remember that it boosts everyone’s morale when they know they can speak up when they need to and someone will listen. This prevents festering negative thoughts and feelings. Team building events can also positively impact everyone in the office. It’s also a good practice to daily look for opportunities to tell each person how much you appreciate him or her. Not only will the boss want to do this, but coworkers can express appreciation for the help their colleagues give them as well.

A positive work environment is extremely important when it comes to lessening job stress, forging strong family bonds, plus increasing your company’s productivity. Here are some resources for copreneurs who want to make a success at work and at home. Also, be sure to check out the Remote Education for Entrepreneurial Couples. I’m here to help you maneuver through the unique challenges of working with your loved ones. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Read about how families can make work and home successful: Entrepreneurial Life.


Studies Show How Fathers Influence Our Decisions

Thursday, June 19, 2014


father's influence on childrenDoes a father’s presence really make a difference in whether or not his children have a successful life? For years, the father’s influence on the family has been overlooked in scientific research. Now that family dynamics are changing, this is an important question to revisit. Paul Raeburn’s recent article in Scientific American discusses some studies that are shedding new light. Here are a few of the findings:

Richard Koestner, a psychologist at McGill University, looked back at 75 men and women who had been part of a study at Yale University in the 1950s, and he concluded that the one factor that affects a child’s ability to show empathy isn’t how affectionate the parents are, but rather how much time the father spent with the child.

Melanie Horn Mallers, a psychologist at California State University, Fullerton, found that sons who had good relationships with their fathers handle day-to-day stresses better.

A team at the University of Toronto found that when a child views his or her mother’s face, there’s activity in several parts of the brain. However, viewing father’s face caused activity in the part of the brain associated with feelings of love – the caudate.

Ronald P. Rohner of the University of Connecticut thinks that parental acceptance from both the mother and father influence their children’s personalities. Those who feel accepted are independent and emotionally stable, have strong self-esteem and hold a positive worldview. Those who feel rejected are hostile, feel inadequate, and are prone to instability and negativity.

Bruce J. Ellis of the University of Arizona found that when girls are close to their fathers and spent a lot of time with them during the first five to seven years, they enter puberty later and show more sexual restraint.

Psychologists Sarah E. Hill and Danielle J. DelPriore, both at Texas Christian University discovered that a father’s absence, physically or psychologically, accelerates the daughters’ reproductive development and increases the likelihood of engaging in sexually risky behavior.

It’s one thing to understand the facts in these studies, it’s another thing to see how to improve the dynamics in your family. Parenting is too important of a job to wing it so don’t be afraid to ask for help. A family counselor can help you – if you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office and set up an appointment.

To learn more about being a good parent visit – Parenting.

Do You Expect Everyone to Think and Act Like You Do?

Friday, June 06, 2014


why doesn't everyone think like I doA common expression we hear today is, “It’s my way or the highway.” Perhaps you’ve found yourself even saying that to a child or an employee. Sometimes, people unintentionally alienate others because they expect everyone else to think and act exactly like they do. It never occurs to them that there are many ways to be in the world, and they are all appropriate given the stage of development and personality of the individual involved.

Let me give you an example of one copreneur couple (names have been changed to protect their identities) that was helped to resolve their problems through using Dialectical Behavior Therapy to better understand this issue.

When Arthur turned forty-seven, he knew that his wife was unhappy, though what she was unhappy about remained a mystery. He loved his wife dearly and only wanted the best for her, but somehow he wasn’t succeeding at meeting her needs. Since this was his third marriage, he could hardly deny that he might have a few weaknesses in the relationship department, and he was finally willing to put his ego aside to find some answers.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) required numerous meetings during the week as the couple peeled back the layers to get to the core problem without having to explore the deeper introspection necessary in CBT. Arthur and Leslie examined their work and personal relationship and discovered that most of their conflicts emerged at work. He assumed that Leslie was just like himself, a visionary type of leader, when all Leslie wanted to do was be supportive and run an efficient office. Arthur would rush off with a new idea and leave a project dangling, assuming that Leslie would finish the project. He was happy to have her do it any way that suited her, because he was finished with it. Leslie, on the other hand, was frustrated and bewildered.

Eventually, the patience with which this couple approached their problems paid off. Arthur developed a new admiration for Leslie and allowed her the space to perform at work in just the way that fit her personality. He learned that there are other ways to do things in life besides his own, and that they all work well.

This opened his eyes to his previous relationships within his family and business. He questioned why he had taken the paths he had taken. He wondered if his selfish way of looking at people had alienated him unnecessarily from those he loved. He wondered if he had ignored certain opportunities and dismissed others simply because he wanted things done his way. All of this speculation depressed Arthur. He couldn’t go back in time and do things differently.

Working through the DBT exercises made it possible for Arthur to grow through this depression. He allowed himself the regrets. And he made apologies where he could. He came to recognize this key truth: At any moment in time, we are all making the best choice we know how to, given our level of skill and life experience. Arthur was able to pull himself out of his depression and build a quality life with Leslie because he began to see the possibilities for tomorrow.

How do you push past the regrets and stay positive? Connect with me on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share how you focus on tomorrow’s possibilities.

If you haven’t done so yet, grab your hardcopy or kindle edition of Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home.

How Retirement Impacts Couples Who Work Together

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Spouse retiringEntrepreneurial couples journey through many phases in their lives. You have the excitement of starting out in business. Later you enter the phase of managing your business as you juggle the demands of home, family and job. Then comes dealing with the “empty nest” as you both continue to work and get to know each other again as a couple. A phase that often brings unexpected challenges is when one of you decides to retire before the other one is ready to do so.

When couples retire at different times, what issues will arise? And how can you cope?

A New York Times article, Coping When Not Entering Retirement Together”, pointed out two main areas where conflict might arise – how money is spent and how free time is used. This article brought up some interesting topics for conversation that entrepreneurial couples would do well to discuss long before retiring. Some of them are:

  • Are you still energized by running a business or is it creating health problems?
  • When can you afford to retire?
  • Are you going to sell the house so you can more easily afford retirement?
  • Will you want to move to a new location?
  • Will the one income match your expenses?
  • Is your retirement portfolio large enough to support you comfortably for the rest of your life?
  • Will social security kick in before your income stops?
  • What are you going to do to keep living a meaningful life after retirement?
  • Will you be happy engaging in your hobbies, or will you need something else to do?
  • Will the working spouse resent how you spend your free time?
  • Are you prepared for the emotional consequences of this major life event?
  • Will the retired spouse feel guilty, so that you withhold information and communication starts breaking down?
  • Will depression become a problem, because your self worth had been defined by the job?
  • Is it realistic to think the retired partner will want to do all the housework, cooking, shopping?
  • Will the retired individual begin viewing the income from the working spouse as “his/her” income not “our” income?
  • Will spending habits need to change?

As you can see, to make a successful transition to retirement, especially if only one spouse is retiring, open and honest communication is the key. Succession planning also is a key issue that can create conflict if you and your spouse disagree. If you both decide to retire will you sell the business or turn it over your children to run?

You might find it beneficial to talk with a marriage counselor on how to cope with emerging thoughts and feelings you didn’t expect. Join me on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share what you think will be your biggest issue with retirement.

For more information, read on my website – Maintaining a Strong Marriage.

Essential Skills for Entrepreneurial Couples Revealed in My Interview for “The Guardian”

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Essential skills for entrepreneurial couplesIn my latest interview on my work with entrepreneurial couples I discussed with British Journalist, Mark Williams that the main problem when working with loved ones is linked to relationship intensity. Since we care more about what they think of us and vice versa, the work and home environment can become ripe for conflict.

Perhaps you, like many other couples, are contemplating choosing the entrepreneurial lifestyle. While there are great risks to choosing this lifestyle, there are also many rewards. To provide a basis for resolving the inevitable conflicts, there are three essentials skills that couples would do well to contemplate before starting this entrepreneurial journey together.

Know Yourself as an Individual
I believe that those who have proved themselves capable as individuals before starting a business together usually do much better. Then you both know that you could do it alone, but that you'd rather run your business with your loved one. That's a strong position to be in.

Assign Specific Responsibilities
To help create clear boundaries, it’s important to assess the strengths of each individual and assign responsibilities according to the abilities that each marriage/business partner has, not portioning them out because “that’s a man’s job” or “that’s what women are supposed to do”. What matters is what will work for you as a couple.

Good Communication
Drawing a convenient line between personal and business isn't realistic. Couples need to be good at transitioning between the two, which you'll need to do many times each day. Without good communication skills and quality time dedicated to communicating, relationships soon flounder and fail. In relationships and business, open and honest communication can ensure that minor issues don't develop into major problems. Problems must be recognized and worked through to mutual agreement. So what boundaries will you set as to when and how you communicate about family and business matters?

The most important thing to remember is to always put love first. Without it – who would you share your business successes with? Don't compromise to avoid conflict. And follow your dream, as long as your spouse really shares that dream.

Want a great resource that helps families in business stay up-to-date with the best strategies for making a success of Work and Love? Sign up to receive my monthly Entrepreneurial Couples Newsletter.

You can also start connecting with other entrepreneurial couples via my new Meetup, ENTREPRENEURS: Making it Work for Couples and Families.

For more information of the Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, read on my website – Entrepreneurial Life.

Can Mobile Apps Help Entrepreneurial Couples Stay Close?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


families in business can use mobile apps to stay connectedIt’s not uncommon for families to be in one room, but each person is “alone” because they’re so engrossed in their own mobile device. They may even be texting each other. So obviously, there is a down side to the proliferation of mobile devices and internet access. But is there a plus side?

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 66% of American couples are using tech devices to communicate with their life partners. Here are some of their findings:

  • “10% say that the internet has had a “major impact” on their relationship, and 17% say that it has had a “minor impact.” Fully 72% say the internet has “no real impact at all” on their partnership.
  • 74% say the impact was positive. 20% said the impact was mostly negative, and 4% said it was both good and bad.
  • 25% say they have texted their partner when they were both home together.
  • 21% have felt closer to their partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message.
  • 9% have resolved an argument via online/text message that they were having difficulty resolving in person.
  • 25% have felt their partner was distracted by cell phone when together.
  • font-size: 13px; color: #333333;">8% have had an argument with their partner about the amount of time one of them was spending online.
  • 4% have gotten upset at something that they found out their partner was doing online.”

In a recent CNN article, “I had a Nice Time with You Tonight. On the App”, the author, Jenna Wortham explores a variety of new Apps to help keep couples connected. Mentioned were Gchat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Avocado, Couple, Between and You & Me. If either you or your partner travel for business, checking out these apps would be worthwhile so that you stay connected with your partner. Phone tag is a thing of the past with these apps.

While I don’t advocate technology taking the place of in person communication, in today’s busy world it’s best to find ways to stay connected as best as we are able. Good communication is the key to successful entrepreneurial marriages. Join me on Facebook at (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share your experiences. 


For more information, see Entrepreneurial Life and Co-preneur Resources.

My Interview on NPR and Resources for Copreneurs Who Want to Succeed at Work and at Home

Friday, April 18, 2014


Copreneurs Couples in Business TogetherI was recently interviewed for a NPR story on, When Divorce Leads to a Happily Ever After for a Small Business. Now this is possible. The reporter speaks with couples who are divorced that have maintained a healthy business partnership, after dissolving their marriage. Of course, if you’ve been following my work for very long, you recognize that the goal for many couples is to stay happily married as they work in their business together.

Yuki Noguchi of NPR news interviewed me for this piece and one truth I shared is, “It's easy to be blind about love or business, but it's also unwise. We just believe that if we love somebody that should be the tie that binds us together in loyalty forever. But we live here on Earth, and all kinds of things happen here."

The latest statistics from the Census Bureau, is that married couples in America co-own 3.7 million small businesses. And for many of them, their marriages and business will survive and thrive as they work through the challenges. Divorce doesn’t have to be the inevitable outcome.

The NPR story focused on one major challenge to couples in business, the loss of trust due to sexual infidelity. But there are so many other challenges. So, I thought I’d pull together some of the big topics and resources from my website that can help.

The big challenges that copreneurs face while trying to keep business and family together:


Typically, problems that copreneurs face arise because there aren’t clear boundaries set between home and work. The couples who successfully maneuver through problems use a variety of techniques to keep conflict to a minimum. Most importantly, successful copreneurs are good communicators. They talk with each other frequently about any problems that arise. In the intense and emotional environment of a couple-owned business, good communication and conflict resolution skills are a must. Couple who need to learn these skills can get help from a qualified family counselor. Please feel free to contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington office to ask if this is a good option for your family.

If you’ve read my book, Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home, you know that I’ve been working hard to give couples the skills to make it work at Work and at Home so that divorce is not a foregone conclusion to the unique stresses of working with your life partner.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for my Entrepreneurial Couples newsletter and stay up-to-date on the latest news for families that work together.

Now you can add a new resource to your toolbox—the new, free Meetup, ENTREPRENEURS: Making it Work for Couples and Families. There’s a local, monthly meetup in Vancouver, Washington or if that’s not practical for where you live, there’s a teleconference where we’re connecting with families in business from around the world. Join us and you’ll get all the details.



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