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Kathy Marshack News

Learn How to Use Your Emotions When Making Business Decisions

Friday, April 22, 2011


Making good business decisions is not based on high IQ. Rather it is based on how perceptive you are with your emotions. Those of us who feel our feelings, interpret them correctly, and then act upon that information, have an advantage over those of us who rely solely on intellect to make decisions. If you’re a business owner you probably need to make tough decisions every day. But really anyone can benefit from this information.

To properly perceive and act on your emotions takes practice. You must learn to master these 3 steps: (1) feeling your feelings; (2) interpreting your feelings correctly; and (3) acting upon the feeling information.

· Feeling your feelings. Feelings are things like joy, irritation, hunger, fatigue, boredom, confusion, pain, anticipation, pride, embarrassment, tension, and so on. It is also important to remember that you always feel your feelings first. Because of how you are "wired" thoughts or interpretations come after feelings. So it is useful to notice those feelings consciously before your conscious mind decides to ignore them or misinterpret them.

· Interpreting your feelings correctly. The key element here is to realize that feelings are basically neutral. That is, they are neither good nor bad; they are just feedback. Take anger for an example. Anger may feel unpleasant to you and therefore, something to suppress. However, the feeling of anger is neither good nor bad; it is just feedback about something that is important for you to know. Try to view all of your feelings that way. They are feedback in feeling-form about your environment.

· Acting upon the feeling information. Here are a few basic tips to improve your decision making by including relevant feeling information. (1) Always checkout your feelings before making any decision. (2) Inquire after another's feelings before proceeding to decision making. (3) Check your feelings again after arriving at the decision. (4) Remember that "feeling good" about something doesn't always mean that the decision is correct. (5) Be willing to acknowledge that you are afraid or angry or confused. Hiding these feelings from yourself may deny you powerful and necessary information.

Many of you know those successful people who seem always to be in the right place at the right time. They aren't really any smarter than you are, but probably they trust an "inner knowing" based upon using all of the resources available to them, emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual.

For more on information, visit Entrepreneurial Life.

Entrepreneurial Couples – How to Make Love the Top Priority

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Entrepreneurial couples have their work cut out for them to sustain proper balance in their lives. Making time for friendship, romance, and family togetherness is difficult, but imperative. As contrary as it may sound, putting love as the top priority is the key to success for any entrepreneurial couple. With so many responsibilities, it is nearly impossible to be spontaneous or wait for the right moment for love and romance. Successful entrepreneurial couples realize that they have to plan for love.

How can an entrepreneurial couple plan for love? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Schedule regular date nights. I encourage couples to have one date night per week and put it in stone. Use this time to focus on one another, not the business.

2. Take frequent mini-vacations. Sometimes you need more time together than a few hours. By taking a few mini-vacations a year, you can relax and recharge, coming home invigorated and ready to get back to work.

3. Volunteer together. Doing things for others can bring a couple closer together. If you have children, volunteer together to help in the classroom or to go on the school field trips. If you do not have children, look for a local cause that you both are interested in and regularly volunteer.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Make time everyday in the morning or at the end of each day for uninterrupted discussions about everything that is necessary to keep the flow smooth. If one of you has to travel out of town, schedule time to talk every day.

All of these approaches help you remember why on earth you are working so hard anyway . . . to share your successes with the ones you love. So, make love the priority!

For more information on Entrepreneurial Couples, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Couples at Work and Home. My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is also available for purchase with advice specifically about the challenges of working with your spouse.

5 Steps to Develop a Fair Compensation Plan for Your Family Business

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Compensating relatives is a sticky business. Not all people are really created equal. It is sometimes very difficult to assess and compare the talents of family members who are also employees. Nor do all family members contribute equally to the business. As a result of the stress that this causes, many family business owners ignore the problem and let compensation become a breeding ground for dissension in the family.

If you want a successful family business, you must push your anxiety aside and develop a compensation plan. To develop a fair compensation plan for your business, follow these five steps:

1. Write up accurate job descriptions for each employee. Include responsibilities, level of authority, technical skills, level of experience and education required for each job.

2. Identify what your compensation philosophy is. Do you want to pay about average, or higher? Do you want to attract talent from other companies? Do you want to offset the typical male/female wage differential? Are you a training ground for young, inexperienced people?

3. Gather information on the salaries of similar positions in your industry. Size up companies that are similar to yours in number of employees, revenue, product, geographic location, etc. What salaries and other benefits do these similar organizations pay their employees?

4. Develop a succession plan. How will a successor to the leadership be identified among family member/employees? How will they be prepared for leadership? How will this choice affect the morale of the family/business? How will this successor be compensated?

5. Design an affordable plan. Obviously you want to do the best you can with the dollars you have. What can you afford to compensate each family member/employee relative to their contribution?

After you have a compensation plan that reflects the family’s values as well as sound business practices, you are in position to negotiate an employment contract with a family member. It is important that everything is spelled out up front so that when you have an annual review, there is a way to compare employee performance with outlined expectations in the job description. Salary increases can then be based upon the employee’s true accomplishments.

As the CEO of a family business, make the best decision you can for the business. As a parent or a spouse, encourage your family member/employee to achieve their greatest potential within or outside the business. In this way both business and family wins.

For more on Entrepreneurial Life, visit Families in Business.

Interview with Dr. Kathy Marshack on Entrepreneurial Couples

Monday, February 07, 2011


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

How to Manage Work Related Stress

Monday, January 03, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Hate and Guilt in Family Business Relationships

Monday, December 20, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Saturday, November 20, 2010


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

One common error is to mistake signals for the problem.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Accurately Assess Your Management Style in a Family Firm

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be an Optimist - It's Good for Business

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Dictionary.com defines optimism as "a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome." For some, optimism comes naturally, but for others it is something that has to be cultivated. The question is, can optimism help your business? We hear that attitude is everything . . . is that true?

Yes it is true. Optimism can greatly impact your business. Optimism helps you to be solution-oriented. When you encounter a bump in the road, instead of throwing your hands up, you continue to search for a way around the problem, convinced that there is a solution. You will also be willing to try new things because you recognize that there is no failure rather everything is a learning experience.

Dr. Marin Seligam, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, has conducted hundreds of studies proving that optimism is a key to success. In one study, he found that "optimistic salespeople sold 88 percent more than the most pessimistic ones." (Entrepreneur.com The Successful Optimist)

If you are not naturally optimistic, do not despair! Work to cultivate a more positive way of speaking. Be aware of the way you describe certain situations and make a conscious effort to turn those comments into something more optimistic. This takes time and lots of practice! In a sense, you are rewiring your brain. Choose to surround yourself with things that promote a positive message. There are many wonderful self-help books that can help you develop an optimistic outlook. The issue really boils down to choice. Will you CHOOSE to be optimistic? It's up to you. In the words of Winston Churchill, "I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else."

Visit Entrepreneurial Life for additional information.

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

Thursday, July 29, 2010


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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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