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Kathy Marshack News

Entrepreneurial Couples – It’s Your Choice – Keep Managing Crises or Start Living Purposefully

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


happy entrepreneurial couples living purposefullyMost of the time, people are so busy with work and life they tend to make adjustments in life only when there is a major crisis. They quit smoking and lose weight when they’ve had a heart attack. They curtail spending habits, when the house goes to foreclosure. They consider their marriage, when a spouse leaves.

Yet, change is inevitably happening every day, and when entrepreneurial couples harness the energy in change, you can create meaning or purpose out of it. It puts you in charge rather than in a reactive position of always fixing problems. In simple terms, you don’t have to be sick to get better.

Change leads to either growth or deterioration. It seems wise, then, to accept that you’re a changing individual in a changing world, and it’s important to make time to work as a couple toward meaningful and purposeful growth. Of course, crises will continue to happen, since we can’t accurately predict everything. Yet crises do not have to be the norm, if you learn to pay attention to the signals that a change is coming. (Actually, these are really signs that reorganization has already started to take place.)

Some of those signals are subtle, such as feeling bored or confused. Another subtle signal is sticking with a habit that doesn’t now produce the desired results, although at one time it may have been useful. Turning points in life signal change. You can learn to use these developmental milestones to reset your course.

Your goal should be to access purposeful growth instead of just changing for the sake of change. Changing jobs or starting a new business because you’re bored will not guarantee success. When the newness wears off, you may find yourself once again in the same predicament, unsatisfied with your life. Being alert to these subtle warning signs of change helps you proactively recognize opportunities that will benefit you, your spouse, and the business.

Often we miss the wide scope of possibilities. Therefore seeking advice helps you discover a wider range of opportunities. By focusing on changing yourself first, you expand your consciousness through life-enhancing activities and continual education, which leads to self-awareness. You can then take positive steps toward your commitment to getting and staying physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. You become more skilled at resolving immediate problems, correcting past mistakes, and moving ahead with the new opportunities. This approach also enables you to encourage the development of your spouse, partner, employees, and children, which benefits you, too.

Changing from a problem-solving mode into self-awareness and growth may be difficult, especially for busy entrepreneurial couples. I’m here to help. Please feel free to contact my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office to schedule a consultation. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference. The possibilities for your life, your partner's life, and your business are unlimited.

Learn more in my book: Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and Home. Grab your Kindle edition here.

Do You Need Creativity to Survive?

Friday, February 28, 2014


creativity means thinking outside the boxCreativity has long been associated with the arts. The general population may feel that they aren’t creative. While some do have a greater aptitude for creativity than others, it is not a rare gift reserved for only a few. Creativity comes when you learn to look at the world in a different way. You see relationships between things that others can’t see.

Interestingly, a recent article in The New York Times by Laura Pappano reports that more institutes of higher learning are teaching creativity as a marketable skill for industries such as business, education, digital media, humanities, engineering, science, nursing, justice and safety.

She quotes Gerard J. Puccio, chairman of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College, “The reality is that to survive in a fast-changing world you need to be creative.” He heads the nation’s oldest creative studies program that has been offered since 1967.

Dr. Puccio developed a four-step system that he and partners market as FourSight and sell to schools, businesses and individuals. His steps are clarifying (ask the right question), ideating (brainstorming without listening to the inner naysayer), developing (trying out your solution until you find one that works) and implementing (convincing others your idea has value).

She also talks about Dr. Burnett’s Introduction to Creative Studies survey course, where students can enhance their own creativity by rephrasing problems as questions, learning not to instinctively shoot down a new idea but look for three positives first, and categorizing whether a problem needs action, planning or invention.

No doubt you can see commonalities between these approaches. Creativity requires open, positively thinking outside the box. Being willing to accept change. Feeling safe and confident in the way you perceive yourself. Having a willingness to fail and try again. Sounds like a recipe for success if you’re in therapy!

In fact, I tell my clients – especially entrepreneurs – that if you have a 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. With practice and time you can improve your creativity skills and, who knows, a failed creative thought or idea may not work for a particular situation at present, but it may for another one down the line.

What do you think? How important is creativity in your career? Join me on Facebook – I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and other subjects.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Do You and Your Spouse Think About Money in the Same Way?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


entrepreneurial couples view of money mattersThe following phrases and bits of wisdom are based on beliefs that are deeply rooted in our cultural history. As you read through these phrases and statements, check out your feelings, your gut reactions to each. Do some seem truer than others? Do some make you feel uneasy? Which phrase or aphorism rings the truest for you? Which one delights you? And what other bits of wisdom about money can you think of?

  • Money can't buy love.
  • You can't take it with you.
  • Dirty money.
  • Filthy rich.
  • Cold, hard cash.
  • As phony as a three-dollar bill.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Buy low, sell high.
  • Two for the price of one.
  • A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • It's as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one.
  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
  • Penny wise and pound foolish.
  • Money talks.
  • Love of money is the root of all evil.

Would your marriage mate agree with your answers? Since many marital fights are over money, it’s good for everyone, especially entrepreneurial couples, to reexamine what money means to you and what you want it to mean. Only by uncovering your beliefs about money and how they are affecting your most intimate relationships will you be able to challenge the beliefs that are not healthy or productive.

Has money become an overwhelming issue in your marriage? If so, please consult a trained therapist to help you resolve this situation now. Financial problems are really just the tip of the iceberg for couples, concealing deeper, hidden issues between family members. Contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office to set up an appointment.

Also, check out my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s an invaluable resource for reeducating yourself about money, redefining your attitudes about wealth, and planning for the healthy management of your wealth. I suggest reading and discussing it together as a couple so you can openly discuss this touchy topic.

What 40 Years of Science Reveals About Happiness

Thursday, January 09, 2014


the three main factors that result in happinessAfter over thirty five years counseling clients and helping them discover what happiness means to them personally, I was interested to read a recent article in the New York Times on this subject. The president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C., reported on what scientists have discovered about happiness after studying it for 40 years.

Scientists have determined that three major things impact happiness – our genes, events, and our values. Here's what the research shows:

Genetics: Researchers at the University of Minnesota have studied identical twins separated at birth and found that genetics is responsible for about 48.5% percent of our happiness.

Events: Measured to account for 40 percent of our happiness, the effect of events on our happiness is usually short-lived. Today we may be ecstatic about landing our dream job, but within a month or so that euphoria wears off.

Values: While the smallest percentage of our happiness is attributed to our values, this is something totally within our control. We get to choose what value we place on the basics – faith, family, community and meaningful work.

The article also went on to reveal that meaningful life and work isn’t successfully measured by the amount of money you have or what you buy. Mr. Brooks explains more, “Rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.”

In order to be happy, you must know yourself first. This means becoming knowledgeable about the connections between your personal life, your family life and your work life. Understanding your personal family dynamics and how they interact with your career or business creates a more successful life balance.

This is especially true for family business owners, your personal life influences your business decisions, and vice versa. Therefore, it is well worth your while to become more knowledgeable about your personality style, your family values, your blind spots and how they shape your daily actions. Self-Assessment is a good place to start in reevaluating your attitude toward work and money. If you’re an entrepreneur you will find many self-assessment exercises, including Your Financial Plan in my book - Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home.

If you need help discovering a more meaningful, and happy, work-life balance please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

Latest Interview on “Entrepreneurial Couples” in The New York Times

Monday, December 02, 2013


Couples fall in love and many times find that they work well together in their marriage. So for them the next logical step is to begin working together in a business endeavor. You would think that couples working toward a common goal together would draw them closer. Yet many couples have found this creates more challenges than they expected.

This was illustrated in a recent article in The New York Times, Together, at Home and at Work. The author, Bruce Feiler, spent an intensive six months working closely with his wife and many of his friends reacted by asking when they would divorce. No doubt it was asked jokingly, however it underlines the commonly held misconception that couples can’t work together for any length of time without breaking up.

After giving example of famous couples who have successfully worked together and others who have failed, he quoted a number of experts on couple working together. I was happy to talk to him about my research that appears in my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. I shared my insight that couples who work together should never compromise unless there really is no other option. When you’re working with your spouse, you’re going to be tempted to compromise, because that’s what you do at home. But that’s not good for business. Too much sensitivity to others is the primary reason family companies grow slower than non-family firms.

He also discussed the need to set boundaries – what happens at work stays at work, what happens at home stays at home, not to be afraid of conflict, and know when it’s time to quit if it’s not working.

Successful couples combine the wife's and the husband's strengths. Take what you know about each other and use it to the fullest to take your business and your life to a new height. If you could use some personal guidance on how to resolve a conflict in your family business, please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

You can learn more about my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home, and purchase a Kindle edition by clicking here.

What’s Wrong with Using Alcohol to Unwind After a Hard Day at the Office?

Thursday, September 26, 2013


empty beer bottlesEvery night at about 10:30 the fighting begins until the couple gets so tired they just fall asleep. This married couple works side-by-side running their successful business, but by the end of the workday, Joan frequently wants to stop off at a bar for a drink to "unwind". Jack, in a separate car goes home, relieves the babysitter, and starts dinner. When his wife gets home, she’s relaxed and cheerful, the alcohol having taken the edge off of the day's stress. She has two more glasses of wine at dinner. As the evening progresses, Jack busies himself with settling the children down for the evening. He doesn't mind doing most of the domestic chores because he understands that Joan doesn't have as much physical stamina as he.

When it’s time to give the children a goodnight kiss, he usually finds his wife napping on the couch. A couple more drinks later, Joan is no longer cheerful, but is very irritable. Dumbfounded, Jack can’t figure out why she’s mad at him. The accusations start flying, defensive walls shoot up and the arguing escalates to unreasonable and irrational proportions.

When does relaxing with a drink turn into a problem such as this?

A recent article on CNN’s website, Does Drinking Reduce My Stess?, quotes psychology professor Kenneth Sher, head of the University of Missouri’s Alcohol, Behavior and Health laboratory, "If you're looking forward to a drink to relieve your stress, on a regular basis, that is a warning sign. There's a very strong relationship between having thoughts like, 'Alcohol helps me relax' and 'Having a few drinks makes my trouble go away' and alcohol dependency problems."

If you are using alcohol to handle your stress, you're actually adding more stress to your system. As professor Sher stated, "When you're alcohol-dependent, you're chronically stressed at a baseline level." The higher your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, the more you need to drink to feel normal.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 18 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. There are also several million more adults who engage in risky drinking that could lead to alcohol problems such as binge drinking and heavy drinking on a regular basis. How do you know if you have a problem with alcohol? Start by seeing how you answer the questions on my website – Alcohol Recovery.

If you experience drinking-related problems that impact your job, relationships, health, or the law, you should seek professional help. You may want to start by speaking to your doctor but there are a variety of resources available to you. Don’t delay. The effects of alcohol abuse can be extremely serious both to you and to others. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment please contact my Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA office.

Can Life Partners Be Good Business Partners?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


life partners becoming business partnersElise and Aaron have been in a happy marriage for more than ten years. During that time, each has built a successful, professional practice. However, unexpected problems began when they moved into the same office suite. Because they’re seeing each other every day at work and at home, conflicts are happening more often. The tools they used in the past to resolve problems aren’t working anymore.

This pictures a classic problem between entrepreneurial husbands and wives. Because their expectations are so radically different, husbands and wives become confused and frustrated with a partner that they love. They wonder why they ever asked the other to work with them. Sometimes they wonder even if they should remain married.

Search for a flexible system of relating that can change with the circumstances of your life, your lives together, and the changing marketplace of your business.

As more and more couples consider entrepreneurship, it becomes painfully apparent that they must prepare for the stress that business collaboration will cause their personal relationship. Much of this stress results from couples not discussing the ramifications of working together, not preparing for the blurred boundaries and turf that arise when a spouse becomes one’s business partner. However, clarifying the work/home expectations of each spouse/business partner should be the first thing that any entrepreneurial couple does, even before spending a cent on letterhead or signing the bank loan.

Whatever your style of couple entrepreneurship (a solo proprietorship, co-entrepreneurial couple or dual-entrepreneurs) there are few models to guide you in maintaining a loving marriage and a thriving business simultaneously. It is possible to design a model unique to the two of you that really works. Begin by talking with your spouse/partner about the goals each of you has for yourselves individually in life. Then go on to discuss marital goals, family goals and finally business goals. I have a more comprehensive outline of how to do this in my book, ENTREPRENEURIAL COUPLES: Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s now available as a Kindle edition. Why don’t you check it out?

If you need some personal guidance on how to resolve a conflict in your family business, please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

Read more on my website – Couples in Business.

How Are Women Entrepreneurs Changing the World We Live In?

Monday, August 26, 2013


women entrepreneurs juggle home and workThe numbers of entrepreneurial women are increasing rapidly. Because women are socialized differently than men, they tend to organize and run their businesses differently, though they are no less a force on the American economy. This is changing the way America does business, AND the ways Americans do marriage and family. Let’s examine this in more depth… 

How entrepreneurial women balance home life and work life.

Career women struggle with societal values and their own internalized beliefs about what is required of the competent professional versus the good wife and mother. In order to ease the struggle to define themselves, women can opt for the traditional homemaker role and not work outside the home. However, work proves to be powerfully alluring to women. Therefore, career women have chosen other methods to resolve this struggle.

Most commonly, entrepreneurial women overwork. Instead of asking for changes from their husbands, changes in the workplace, or even changes in society, career women increase the time spent in nurturing relationships as they increase their commitment to work.

While men strive for autonomy first and learn about relationships second, women develop their sense of self first in connection with others. Therefore, a woman’s sense of worth is highly dependent on the consequences of relationships.

Entrepreneurial women use unconventional methods in business management.

Women entrepreneurs have a more relaxed style of management. This can be seen in how women entrepreneurs treat their employees, suppliers, and customers. They seem to prefer a more people-oriented style. According to Putnam's 1993 study of entrepreneurial women in Oregon, women entrepreneurs blend their personal and their business identities. They base their management of the business on relationships rather than on the development of business plans. Employees are considered friends. Family and spouse support are elements without which the woman would not consider an entrepreneurial venture. Rather than network within traditional business organizations, entrepreneurial women rely on strong personal relationships with their customers and vendors. These findings led Putnam to describe the business orientation of entrepreneurial women as a "web of interconnected relationships."

Since this is becoming the norm, why don’t you and your partner reevaluate the arrangements you’ve made, as well as the assumptions underlying those arrangements? Are there ways that you can reorganize your relationship, your business, and your personal life to create an arrangement that works better for both of you? If you’d like a third party to help sort it out, talking with a family therapist can help. Contact my office and set up an appointment in either my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office.

Whether to work with your spouse or not is just one of the challenges I address in my book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s now available on as a Kindle edition.

Keys to Problem Solving Effectively

Monday, June 17, 2013


Do you know someone who handles problems with ease? You might be attracted to their confident yet carefree attitude when it comes to conquering daily challenges. For some, this type of attitude and ability to problem solve comes naturally. For others, it can be a real struggle. If it doesn't come naturally, don't be discouraged. You can learn how to adjust and problem solve when challenges come your way. It's starts with your attitude. Once your attitude has been adjusted, then you can attack the problem.

Keys to Problem Solving:

Adjusting Your Attitude

1. Separate the negative feeling from the positive thoughts. Clearing your mind from negative thinking with give you a clean slate.

2. View the problem as an opportunity for growth.

3. Take responsibility and don't blame others. You can only control yourself.

4. Develop a strong desire to solve the problem.

Attacking the Problem

1. Identify the root cause of the problem.

2. Think, strategize, then act on the resolution.

Problem solving is a vital process to learn and implement. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional who can guide you through the steps specific to your needs. Contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Personal Growth.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Focus on Your Physical Health

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Entrepreneurial life equals a busy life. Maintaining balance between the business and the family takes hard work and determination. When working with entrepreneurial couples, I encourage them to focus on five tools for accessing purposeful growth. These five areas are key to adapting to the ebb and flow of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. One of these tools is to get healthy.

Getting healthy is something we all know we should do, but can easily shove aside when the day gets busy. Why is taking care of our physical health so important? Science has proven that your eating and exercise habits profoundly affect your intellect and longevity. Isn't that what we all want? Take some time to assess your physical health and then develop a routine to correct whatever needs to be adjusted.

Here are a few simple things that could make a big impact on your health: 

  • Educate yourself about proper nutrition and physical fitness. 
  • Minimize your intake of sugar. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods. 
  • Go for a walk every day. During an evening stroll with your spouse, talk about anything but business. 
  • If you are more sports-minded, join a basketball team or tennis club. 
  • Do your own gardening and housework and build up a few unused muscles. As an added benefit, mindless work sometimes helps to drain the day's stresses and rejuvenate the creative juices for the next day. 

To learn more about my five tools for purposeful growth, pick up your own of Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home. Now available on Kindle!


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