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Kathy Marshack News

Entrepreneurs – How to Cultivate a Good Relationship with Your Employees

Sunday, September 09, 2012


A key to running a successful business is to have a good working relationship with your employees. This responsibility falls on you as the business owner. When you’re an entrepreneur, you are dependent on your employees to keep your dream alive. The best way to do that is to cultivate a positive, productive, and healthy working environment for you and your employees.

Here are some tips to create a good working relationship with your employees:

Set expectations. When you hire a new employee, it is important to clearly define what is going to be expected of them. How can you expect an employee to perform the way you want if they don't know what it is you’re looking for? Help them to see why these expectations are important to you and your business.


Commend. Positive feedback is vital when it comes to encouraging your staff. Be on the lookout for opportunities to give sincere commendation. Your employees will feel appreciated which leads to increased productivity. This will also make it easier on you if you need to give counsel. If counsel is tempered with commendation, it won't be as difficult to take.


Communication. Speak with your staff regularly. Get their feedback and opinions. They are at the forefront of your business and are usually in the best position to know what is really going on. Don't just encourage them to talk to you make sure you talk openly with them. Think about what you know about the business and share it with them.


Respect. Treat your staff the way you would want to be treated – as a capable adult. If they feel respected, you will too.


Building a good relationship with your staff takes time and effort, but it will be well worth it! For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life to learn more.

Having Trouble Making a Business Decision? Hire a Psychologist

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Many business owners are puzzled when their attorney or CPA suggests that they should meet with a psychologist before proceeding with signing a contract, structuring a reorganization or resolving a partnership disagreement. What's a psychologist have to do with business anyway? " I don't need a shrink," they say.

The simple truth is that getting a psychologist involved in a family business makes sense. Why?

1) Half of American businesses are family owned and operated. 2) Many of these businesses are run and staffed by family members who are not necessarily formally trained or educated for their specific job. They work for the business because they are trusted family members dedicated to the success of the family enterprise. 3) Many of these businesses have been around two or three or even four generations, which means that the children are growing up identifying themselves with the family business. What this means for many family firms is that the business is a part of the family and the family is a part of the business.

Recognizing that family businesses are really families with a business identity, a psychologist is able to get beneath the surface of some business problems to identify the emotional snags that are hanging up a business decision. There is nothing more frustrating or expensive than taking weeks and months to develop a new business strategy, only to have it sit there going nowhere because there is a family dispute.

Many family firms want to have open communication. They want to resolve longstanding family/business disputes. They don't like walking on eggshells around certain family members or avoiding sensitive subjects. In spite of good intentions, many of these family firms do not have the skills to address and resolve these problems. They need support and guidance by a psychologist who is trained in resolving problems within a family business system. They need education to learn these skills.

If you have a family business and live in the Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon area, I would be happy to assist you. Contact my office to set up an appointment. For additional information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Use Differences When Making Decisions

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Often you will find that there are major style and personality differences between male and female entrepreneurs. These differences become even more apparent when a husband and wife equally own and operate a company. Management, decision-making, even operations are powerfully influenced by a difference in entrepreneurial style. The integration of a male perspective and a female perspective can be quite an asset. Often times a husband and wife get stuck because they do not recognize the dynamic that is going on.

An interesting dynamic between entrepreneurial couples is how they make decisions. One way I sum it up is that men make the first best decision, but women seek out the best-best decision. Women want to look at all sides of an issue before deciding anything. They value everyone's opinion in the process of moving toward a decision. Men on the other hand seek to move the organization along as swiftly as possible. Regardless of everyone's view, men tend to value the efficiency of getting to the answer quickly.

How does this dynamic work when a husband/wife team needs to make decisions together? If they understand each other well, then the decision-making dynamic is powerful. If they don't, then each party can feel very misunderstood. How can this be done effectively? When a husband and wife work together there is the potential to create a strong leadership for their organization. When a husband recognizes that his wife needs an impartial discussion with a variety of options before deciding, she feels understood and more inclined to move toward decisive action. When a wife recognizes that her husband has a need to get things done as efficiently as possible, she can refocus her energy onto solutions, even if she would like just a little more discussion.

Put simply, when making a business decision as an entrepreneurial couple, work to combine the wife's strengths and the husband's strengths. Take what you know about each other and use it to the fullest to take your enterprise to a new height and enlighten the world with your success.

For more information on succeeding as an entrepreneurial couple, pick up your own personal copy of Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. This book will soon be available as an Ebook for entrepreneurial couples on the go, stay tuned for the release!

Entrepreneurial Couples - How to Give and Receive Criticism

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


When couples work together they have the opportunity to work with a partner they love and trust most. They also have the opportunity to see the best and worst of their partner . . . day in and day out. Even with the most enlightened people, this constant togetherness can cause conflict. It's wonderful to have closeness, rapport, and regular praise from your sweetheart. It just doesn't feel as wonderful to have your partner know you so well that they give you regular criticism as well.

It is important to view criticism for what is really is . . . a critical analysis of your behaviors and an offering of advice on how to change, grow and improve yourself. If criticism is hard for you to take, try viewing it from this perspective. Criticism doesn't make you bad or undesirable. It is just feedback for your enlightenment. Everyone from time to time needs to check out old habits, rewrite some scripts, take a few risks, and try anything new to break out of a rut. If we don't attend to this we lose out personally.


If you are offering criticism to your spouse, here are a few things that you should keep mind. First, choose a good time. The right moment can make a huge difference in how the criticism is received. Second, be prepared to offer some sort of commendation along with the criticism. This will remind them that you do care and value them. Third, make sure that it is necessary criticism. It may be an issue that is really not that important or it might just be your inability to be flexible more than them needing to change.

Criticism is a vital tool that if used properly can make a person blossom for the good. For more information, read my article - Entrepreneurial Couples Can Transform Criticism into Feedback.

Want to learn more about the rewards and challenges of working with your spouse? Visit Entrepreneurial Life - Couples at Work and Home

The Benefits of Being Creative in Business

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Creativity is often linked to artistic ability, but that is not necessarily the case. If you are an entrepreneur, you have shown yourself to be a creative person regardless of any artistic talent. In fact, creativity can be an important key in keeping your business successful and your enthusiasm for your work running strong.

Creativity can be used to improve or improvise a variety of situations. Instead of being stuck with one single method of approaching a situation, being creative allows you to look at many options. By opening your mind to different options, you are opening your horizons and may be surprised with the end result. It may be a way that you have never looked at a problem before.

If you have an good idea, sometimes you just need to run with it. It may or may not work, but allowing your creative juices to flow will only enhance your entrepreneurial abilities. This may be a new way of thinking for you, but with practice and time you can improve your creativity skills. Think of it like a muscle. A muscle has to be trained over time and be used regularly to be of use. Creativity is a never ending process, so do not get discouraged if a situation does not have the intended result. A failed creative thought or idea may not work for a particular situation, but it may for another one down the line.

So, think outside the box. Challenge yourself. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Would you like assistance in unleashing your creativity? Consider setting up an appointment with a business coach. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office for an in depth consultation.

Entrepreneurial Life - Beware of Burnout

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Are you an entrepreneur? Have you ever experience "burnout?" The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a demanding one. Of course, there are many rewards, but if not kept in check, this lifestyle can lead you down a very unhealthy path, emotionally and physically.

Since entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy to push through without stopping to evaluate if you’re on the path to self-destruction. Regardless of how you feel at this moment, if you are an entrepreneur, I encourage you to stop and honestly evaluate yourself. Take note of the signs that you may be burned out.

Signs of Burnout:

  • You are usually creative, but instead you feel like you have hit a wall
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of enthusiasm or drive for your work
  • A cranky, negative attitude that won't disappear
  • Hypertension
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Chronic headaches or stomach problems
  • Family and friends voicing concerns for your well-being

If you see yourself in this list, then it is time to take a time out. It may be as simple as taking a few hours out of your work week for a hobby or time with your family. How about scheduling in a long weekend or a vacation? Whatever you need to do, do it immediately. Success is wonderful, but not a the expense of your mental or physical health. If taking a break does not relieve your symptoms, then you may need to get the assistance of a mental health care professional. There could be deeper issues that need to be addressed. Doing so will be worth your while.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life and Managing Stress.

What Makes a Good Leader? The "Resilience Factor"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


What makes a leader? Is leadership a genetic trait or a learned ability? Leadership development is one of the major concerns of American executives. Business owners are frequently faced with the problem of developing leadership skills among executives and managers.

The kind of skills that will enhance any leader's position and that could create a leader from someone with raw talent, come under what I call the "resilience factor." Within this factor are the qualities of flexibility, the win-win philosophy, quality over quantity, toughness, and foresight.

How the resilience factor is demonstrated:

Flexibility: No matter what surprises lay in store for this leader, he or she is flexible enough to do what works in the moment. He or she can learn from even the lowest employee in the hierarchy.

The Win-Win Philosophy: Competition is a waste of time for this leader. This leader's philosophy is that everyone wins.

Quality over Quantity: Doing things fast is replaced by doing things thoroughly, efficiently and with quality. The leader who has mastered good interpersonal skills has a devoted work force, family and clientele. Therefore, taking the time to do it right and to learn from others pays off.

Toughness: Leaders who win are tough. They don't give up. Their employees and family members can count on them to come through. They aren't afraid to speak, nor to speak an unpopular position.

Foresight: When leaders speak, they have thoroughly researched their opinion. Winging it was OK in those start up years, but if you want people to follow you, be thorough.

The bottom line is that resilient leaders recognize the abilities and talents in others as well as themselves. These leaders realize that their greatest contribution to the business is their ability to lead, to cultivate excellence in others, to create a quality business with longevity. Without developing the interpersonal skills that create trust and confidence in the leader, this is just not possible.

For more on being a resilient leader, read my article - Cultivating Resilient Leadership Can Help a Family Business Succeed or visit Entrepreneurial Life.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Hope for the Best But Plan for the Worst

Friday, February 17, 2012


We live in a world of duality ... positive/negative, good/bad, male/female ... and balance is the act of giving each side attention and respect. Having a positive outlook on life is just fine, but looking only on the bright side is like the proverbial ostrich with his or her head stuck in the sand. You also need to look at what is going wrong, or not working, or not even in the ballpark of reality. If you fail to account for the negative side of things, you fail to plan and live your life fully. How can you correct your mistakes, if you never sort through your flaws and problems? To sum it up, my motto is: HOPE FOR THE BEST, but PLAN FOR THE WORST. That way you've got everything covered.

For entrepreneurial couples and families in business, there are two unpleasant areas which are regularly ignored and therefore never planned for ... death and divorce. There are more entrepreneurs planning for business succession than planning for divorce. Planning for the possibility of divorce of an entrepreneurial couple is a real taboo, apparently. Most couples fear that if you plan ahead for the possibility of divorce, you are setting yourself up to create a divorce.

Paradoxically, by planning for the possibility of divorce right from the start of a marriage and business venture, an entrepreneurial couple has to focus on those things that actually will help strengthen their marriage/partnership. By digging deeply into who you are, and what you want, you have the opportunity to negotiate with each other to make your desires come true. Instead of resentments building, the trouble spots are planned for. Therefore the entrepreneurial couple has a better chance of facing the problems head on, learning from them, or even avoiding them. Planning for the worst in this case isn't a prescription for divorce, but insurance against it.

Death is inevitable, but divorce is not. If you avoid thinking and talking about the possibility is just as foolish as ignoring the inevitability of death. If you want to get started planning for the worst but hoping for the best with regard to creating a healthy, long-term, successful marriage/business partnership with your spouse, try asking yourselves this question: If one or the other of us wants a divorce in the future, why would that be and what can we do now to prevent this?

For more information on this topic, read my article - Five must-answer questions for passing on the family-owned business or visit Entrepreneurial Couples - Couples at Work and Home

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

Entrepreneurial Couples: Does Making Money Mean Spending It?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


When I first met them, Barb and Kevin they were on the brink of divorce. As an entrepreneurial couple (Barb a solo entrepreneur and Kevin a well-paid sales executive), they had the ability to create considerable wealth, but they were always at the point of financial ruin.

Instead of planning for wealth, instead of examining their beliefs about money, instead of working out a life plan together, Barb and Kevin just spent their money. They bought a huge house in the country for their four children, which required long commutes for everyone. They bought expensive cars. They bought a horse for their oldest daughter and paid for private riding lessons. They bought minibikes for their sons. And they recently sold one boat only to buy themselves a bigger one.

When Barb and Kevin sought my help, divorce was a foregone conclusion. Their debts were so large that they could not afford to cut back at work. In fact, they had to work longer hours to make ends meet. Therefore, they had no time for each other and to nurture the marital relationship. They also had no time for their children, who were now reacting to the lack of parental attention and supervision. The older children started turning in failing grades at school, and one son was regularly being suspended for fighting. The younger children were quiet and frightened; never knowing if their parents were going to fight, they hid in their rooms a lot.

Barb and Kevin thought that making money meant spending it. As they fulfilled one desire, another arose to take its place. As they made more money to pay or their increasing desires, they needed more. They lost track of why they had married in the first place. They lost track of what was exciting and appealing about their careers; their careers became just a way to feed their ever-increasing desires.

They tried to handle the enormous responsibility of rearing four children by buying them things, expensive things, and sending them to fancy summer camps. There is nothing inherently wrong with making money, nor with spending it. However, like everything else in life, if money matters outweigh everything else, there are likely to be unhealthy repercussions. It may seem contrary to common sense that satisfying a desire creates yet another desire, but this is a basic principle of human nature.

It is important, especially for entrepreneurial couples, to take the time to assess your values about money. In my book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home there are many self-assessment exercises, including one on Your Financial Plan. Self-Assessment is a good place to start in reeducating yourself about money, redefining your attitudes about wealth, and planning for the healthy management of your wealth. With clear values guiding your life plan, you are in a much better position to accomplish your goals, achieve wealth, and maintain a healthy balance between love and work. If, on the other hand, you are not aware of the values that guide you, you can fall into money traps just like Barb and Kevin.

Why Successful Entrepreneurs Are Often Alienated From Their Family

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Strong, driven, successful, untrusting, perfectionist, reliable, intolerant, a loner . . . These are some of the traits that belong to the authoritarian entrepreneur type and often times they are incredibly successful in business. While many of these traits are positive and lead to success, there is one major flaw of the authoritarian entrepreneur.

An authoritarian entrepreneur believes that he or she is doing a good job for family and employees, regardless of their protests. He can only see his point of view and assumes that others agree with it or otherwise are too immature to understand. Because he believes he is doing what is best for everyone, he pushes ahead with his plans, often ignoring the challenges, complaints and cries of those he is pushing aside. Once his family or employees fight back, he feels betrayed and hurt.

The authoritarian entrepreneur has no awareness that he has any problems, which makes it exceedingly difficult to get help. He is an example of a good quality gone awry. That is, he travels on the notion that "the end justifies the means." This end-justifies-the-means drive comes from an insecurity deep inside the authoritarian entrepreneur. The source of this insecurity depends upon the individual. It may come from a childhood experience of being abused or threatened by a critical, distant, or aloof parent, whom the entrepreneur could never please. It may come from the lessons of a traumatic experience, such as war combat, wherein the entrepreneur learned to stay alive by doing whatever it took. It may come from an actual organic disability, such as dyslexia, making schooling difficult, and the entrepreneur all the more determined to prove he is smart or smarter-than. Whatever, the reason, the authoritarian entrepreneur has a fear of failure, tucked away deep inside that drives him to succeed at whatever the cost.

If you are an authoritarian entrepreneur, use stubbornness or personal strength to attack the problem and solve it. You have intelligence and drive. You have already proven that you can succeed. Now admit your flaws and rebalance your life. Grieve your losses. Learn to love. Break the pattern of insecurity in your family that began with an abusive parent, or a thoughtless teacher, or a war that shaped a vulnerable teenager. By keeping those fears buried, you are perpetuating the insecurity into the next generation. As much as that negative energy (i.e., fear, anger and depression) has served you to create wealth, it has also alienated your family. Is this really the legacy you wish to pass onto your children? Seek help. It will be worth your while.

For more information, read my article - Living With an Authoritarian Entrepreneur.


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