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Kathy Marshack News

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.

What’s the Harm in Being a Perfectionist?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Are you a perfectionist? A perfectionist is a person obsessed with being perfect and anything less is a failure. They expect perfection from themselves and of others. This type of behavior is not only harmful for yourself, but it also harms those around you. Perfectionists usually suffer from depression, guilt, low self-esteem, and a lack of motivation to try new things.

Here are a few tips to help overcoming perfectionism:

Redefine real success. Real success comes not from doing it perfectly the first time, but trying, falling, and picking yourself up again. Doing something perfectly the first time is impossible. So, if you feel like you have failed, try again. That's true success.


Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Honestly evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are and trust me . . . everyone has both! By realizing who you really are will help you to see what you would like to work on. When you can recognize an unhealthy pattern developing, you will be more equipped to stop and change your "perfectionist thinking."

Look for the positive. Human tendency is to look at the negative rather than the positive. Make a conscious effort to look for the good in others and yourself. Over time, you will be more inclined to think positively instead of negatively.

Being a perfectionist doesn't necessarily always have to be negative. If you learn to harness your tendencies in the proper way, you can be very successful because the core of perfectionist is the desire to succeed. If you need assistance in this regard, consider psychotherapy. A therapist can assist you to emphasize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. For more information, visit Psychotherapy Options.

Entrepreneurs - How to Set and Achieve Goals

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Goals are what separate the doers from the dreamers. When you set out to be a successful entrepreneur, goals are a must. A word of caution . . . even though you come up with the most brilliant goal, it won't do you any good useless you actually do it! Action is required.

You may be struggling to set and attain realistic goals for your business. Here are a few tips to enable you to do so:

- Be specific. Setting a goal is one thing, but you must also set specific parameters. A goal must be realistic and achievable. If it’s a long-term goal you may want to have smaller goals along the way to enable you to put into practice what you set out to achieve or at least measure your progress toward reaching the larger goal.

- Strategize. Think about the when, what, and how. Many have found that committing a goal down in writing to be helpful in this regard. Use your Google calendar, a cell phone alarm, a day planner . . . whatever works best for you. If you don't have a game plan then you are shooting in the dark.

- Have the proper attitude. A positive attitude is proven to be more effective than a negative one. Be a risk taker. Don't be afraid to try new things. If something isn't working, don't get discouraged. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed many times but the key to their success is they try again. Even though you set a goal, you may not always attain it. Instead of viewing it as a failure, look at it as an opportunity for growth. Look at how far you came and what you learned along the way. You may realize that what you set out to achieve really wasn't that attainable, so it's time to reevaluate and set a new course.

If you are looking to set some legitimate goals for you and your entrepreneurial future, I suggest making an appointment with a professional psychologist who is also a business consultant/coach. They can help you to set and define goals specific to you, your personality, and your business style. I have been a licensed psychologist and business coach for over 35 years and I consistently see the value behind setting goals. Contact my office for more information.

Visit Entrepreneurial Life for additional information.

Stressed about Job Security? How to Still Make Time for the More Important Things

Monday, October 10, 2011


Finding balance between work-life and home-life is an ongoing battle. What can cause a lack of balance? It may be different depending on the person, but it seems that with the economic downturn, many are concerned about job security. This added pressure causes many to work overtime to prove to their employer that they are worth keeping on. Long work hours means added stress, lack of balance, and no time for the things in life that can bring true joy and happiness.

You may be thinking that there is really nothing you can do about your work situation and that may be true, but what do you have control over? Are there things that can be adjusted? Chances are there are – take a look at the following recommendations:

Cut out non-essentials. While electronics has their place in the world, they can also be a big time waster. Evaluate how much time you are using social media sites, surfing the Internet, or using other electronic devices. They could be depriving you of much valuable time on things that are more important such as your family or your health.

Stick to a schedule. You schedule in your work, so why not schedule in family time or recreation. Putting it down in writing will ensure a greater chance that it will happen. If you choose not to schedule it in, then those opportunities may disappear.

Multi-task. Maybe you only have an hour and you want to squeeze in some exercise, but your 5 year old wants to play with you? They are both important to you. Instead of choosing one over the other, could you merge the two together? Perhaps go on a walk together or a bike ride. You get your exercise in and get to spend quality time with those that you love.

If you feel like you are unable to get a grasp on your responsibilities and your stress is becoming unmanageable, you may need to speak to a professional. Often times short-term therapy can resolve stress-related problems. If you are entrepreneur, you may experience the work-life balance to an even greater degree. Speaking to a therapist who is also versed in business counseling can be highly beneficial.

For more information visit, Managing Stress and/or Entrepreneurial Life.

Protect Your Health – Don't Be Afraid to Say "No"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Life is filled with stress. While a measure of stress can be healthy, uncontrolled stress can be dangerous. Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like your life is too hectic with no breathing room? If that is the major source of your stress, then you may be doing too much. When you find yourself in this situation, it is likely you have a hard time saying no. There is a preconceived idea that saying no is a bad thing. In reality, it is actually a good thing.


People tend to be afraid to say no because they think that they will appear to be selfish. They want to do everything and be all to everyone. By doing everything and running yourself ragged, you aren't really doing yourself or anyone else a favor. By spreading yourself too thin, you won't enjoy yourself or give anyone the quality time that is deserved. If you focus on spending quality time versus quantity, you will be much happier and your friends and family will appreciate that.

Being overwhelmed is also bad for your health. Stress can weaken your immune system which leaves you more susceptible to sickness. This is an important one to remember when it comes to saying yes to extra work projects. You may be concerned about job safety or pleasing your boss, but if you overwork yourself, you may likely find yourself sick and unable to accomplish anything. Look at saying no as an opportunity for someone to step up to say yes. It may be the opportunity that they need.


There is a fine line between saying no just because you don't want to or saying no because you need to. Ask yourself these questions when you are contemplating whether to say yes or no:

· What are my priorities in life?

· Will this invitation or opportunity further my priorities or take away from what is truly important?

· What would I say if guilt didn't exist?

· Can I still participate, but maybe in a simpler way?



You can also ask for advice from a trusted companion. Sometimes they can see things that you don't. It's also best to not make a decision when you are feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Rest and then decide when you have a clear head.

Saying no is not always easy, but you will be happier and healthier in the long term in you say no every now and then. If you struggle with managing your stress, saying no, feeling guilt, or being perfectionist, you may want to seek help from a mental health care professional. For more information, visit Managing Stress or if you’re looking for a psychologist in Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon contact my office to set up an appointment.

How to Use Your Conscious and Unconscious to Help Your Family Business Thrive

Friday, September 09, 2011


Good mental health is a requirement for a family business to run successfully. Mental health refers to a healthy balance between your conscious and unconscious mind. It requires the same attention and commitment as does your daily physical work out. If you miss a day at the gym, you can be set back for weeks. If you are inattentive of your psychological and emotional health, you can be set back for life. We hear the expression, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Unfortunately many people take this attitude with their mental health. Only in times of crisis do they seek professional consultation. Similarly to waiting until after you have a heart attack to start eating and exercising properly, you may wait too long to attend to your psychological health until the dysfunction causes permanent damage.

One way to attend to your mental health is to hire a psychologist. During therapy, you can explore that uncharted unconscious of yours to discover your latent talents or unresolved conflicts. People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they require less physical health care. Research has shown that psychotherapy reduces medical and surgical costs. Also research has demonstrated that among those individuals who are regular users of psychotherapy, they are the group who use medical and surgical procedures the least. Rather than the crisis management attitude of waiting until you are broken, it makes more sense to trust the humanistic slogan: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SICK TO GET BETTER.

Seeing a psychologist can also improve your sense of personal well being. You will find that 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.

In a nut shell, my advice to you is engage in psychotherapy to enhance your analytical and intuitive abilities. Cultivate your inner resources until they are healthy so that you can trust the inner guidance. Using your conscious and unconscious awareness as a team, you will have multiplied many times over the mental resources available to you. With this dynamic team in place, you will be ready to carry out your ideas and plans in ways that only could have been dreamed before.

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

ADHD and Business: Friend or Foe?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Living with ADHD has been compared to living in a kaleidoscope, where thoughts, sounds, and images are constantly shifting in the brain. You may bore easily yet you struggle to keep your attention focused on anything for a long period of time. Distraction becomes a constant companion. Yet in the midst of all the brain chaos, pure brilliance and creativity usher forth and can make a person with ADHD a true success story.

SmartMoney Magazine recently published an article about entrepreneurs with ADHD entitled, "ADHD: Why Some Entrepreneurs Call ADHD a Superpower." Surprisingly, ADHD is common among successful entrepreneurs. Some even refer to it as their "superpower." The article highlights three successful entrepreneurs. They share their thoughts on ADHD and their business, their struggles as well as their strengths. They also share some of their tips for harnessing the negative aspects of ADHD.

SmartMoney contacted me for my expertise on ADHD and you will see a quote from me in the article. I have been working with many ADHD clients over the years and one of my suggestions for entrepreneurs with ADHD is to hire a personal assistant. Since someone with ADHD rarely recognizes the fine details, a personal assistant can fill in the missing blanks.

Whether you are old or young and have ADHD, I also recommend seeking psychotherapy. By working with a qualified therapist, you will be able to identify and build up your strengths as well as learn to control aggression or frustration that often comes with ADHD.

For more information visit Adult ADD/ADHD on my website.


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