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Kathy Marshack News

Are You a Manipulator in Your Family?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Would it surprise you to know that con artists and manipulators are not that different? The only real difference is that a manipulator has created an illusion that they are different, that they would never stoop to the level of a con artist, or that they would never willfully take advantage of a person that way. In my work as a Family Business Consultant, I have seen firsthand that being an manipulator in a family and family business can be devastating both emotionally and financially. It is important to ask yourself if you exhibit manipulative qualities before it gets out of hand.

To investigate your manipulative qualities, ask yourself a few questions...and be HONEST!

1. Are you in sales? 2. Does your business require that you use persuasion, diplomacy, and charm? 3. Have you ever lied? 4. Have you ever taken advantage of another's ignorance or naiveté? 5. Have you kept something you didn't pay for? 6. Have you ever cried in order to get your way? 7. Have you ever intimidated your opponent into capitulating? 8. Have you ever hurt someone else? 9. When you have hurt someone else, did you say, "I didn't mean to do it." 10. Have you kept a secret to avoid conflict? 11. Have you ever "dropped names"? 12.Have you ever changed the subject when the topic was too close for comfort? 13. Just once, was money your only concern?

The tools of persuasion, diplomacy and charm can be used ethically or unethically. They are like a hammer and screwdriver. The hammer and screwdriver can be used to build a house or to break into someone's home. The choice is up to the individual using the tools. Likewise, persuasion, diplomacy and charm can be used to swindle or to negotiate a mutually rewarding settlement.

If you truly want to end the con game within your family firm, you need to take a look at your own manipulative nature. Being conscious of your own manipulations, even the ones that you didn't mean to do, allows you to be ethical. With consciousness comes choice. Choosing to be ethical in your communications and dealings with others requires that you take the time to understand others and to be understood fully.

Another way to investigate your own manipulative nature is to ask others how they feel. In a family this is a perfectly legitimate question. Because you may be hot on an idea and have charmingly persuaded everyone else to cooperative with you, does not mean they all agree with you. Check it out. If you have bullied the others into submission, or charmed them into acquiescing, but deep down inside they do not agree, what kind of agreement do you really have? How much support are you really going to get in the long run? Do you really have your family's trust or are they just afraid of you?

If your goal is to make a lot of money or to have a lot of power, and you don't care how you do it, then there is no point in your reading this. But if you truly want to prosper as a family as well as a family in business, then it requires time to clean up the covert confidence games that are played at home and at work with the ones you love.

For more information on this topic, read my article - Recognizing Manipulation Can Save The Family Business

Wealthy Entrepreneurs: How to Prepare Your Children for the Future

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The challenges that face wealthy families are many. To prepare children for leadership in the family business – and in life – requires quality parenting from the start. Your child is not a miniature adult. He or she does not have the cognitive development, or the life experiences yet to handle the complexities that comprise the world of most wealthy adults. If you want your child to grow up to be successful in life, then your focus from day one should be on building his or her self-esteem.

In order to build self esteem in your children, you must consider parenting a full-time job for both parents. This is true with all children, not just the wealthy, but wealthy children require even more attention. You must teach them the skills of independence, right from wrong, how to be a good person, how to choose friends wisely, how to dream, develop their talents and work to accomplish those dreams. But in addition to all of this, wealthy children must be taught how to handle the considerable responsibilities that wealth brings into their lives.

They have more resources and more opportunities than the average child. They are expected by others to know more and accomplish more, however unfair this may seem. These differences are not only statistical; they make the child feel different. And feeling different is a hardship for most children. If a child is unprepared for these differences or responsibilities their self-esteem can be severely shaken and they can sink into depression or at the very least be an underachiever.

I believe preparing your children for handling the responsibilities of wealth in a healthy manner is one of your primary tasks in your wealth preservation plan. Carrying out this responsibility is really quite simple. Your children should be part of the wealth management plan from the start. Give your child a chance to participate in the wealth management of your family estate. Perhaps they can contribute their own earnings to buying their own clothes or they can set up a savings account for college.

So, parents, take this responsibility seriously. Take 10-20 minutes each day for meditation or prayer to center and focus yourself on your most dearly held values and priorities…your family.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business

Attention Busy Women: Are You Addicted to Stress?

Monday, May 16, 2011


The idea of being addicted to stress may sound ridiculous, but it's true. Many Americans, specifically women, are in fact addicted to stress. The American Psychological Association says that more than half of women say they are stressed out. That is an increase of 25% in just 4 years! Stress is a very normal emotion, but it is not normal or healthy to be addicted to stress.

Why are so many women addicted to stress? For one thing, stress may equate a sense of success. They may feel like they have to work just as hard and as long as everyone else to stay ahead of the game. "Everyone else who is successful is stressed." Without realizing it, they have become victim to negative peer pressure.

Once the stress starts this vicious cycle, it is hard to stop. Stress can stimulate the production of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. That surge of hormones becomes addictive and in order to get that feeling, you need stress.

What are the consequences of stress? Stress can affect your emotional state. Depression, anxiety disorders are usually accompanied with acute stress. There are also many physical consequences such as tension headaches, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, and also an increased risk of heart problems, stroke, and susceptibility to infections.

If you think that you have become addicted to stress, seek help. Like any other type of addiction, you can overcome it. For specific tips, visit Managing Stress on my website. Do not hesitate to take the proper steps to start leading a healthier and happier life.

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.

Shopping for Health Insurance? Make Sure You Have Adequate Mental Health Benefits

Thursday, March 24, 2011


A few years ago I heard a well known Dale Carnegie graduate give a talk on how to attract new business. He used as an example, what attracted him to the family physician who had attended to him, his wife and children for years. The good doctor had given a similar talk at a public event and impressed the man with his expertise, solid reputation, and sincerity. For something as personal and life important as the health care of his family, the man wanted such an individual as this dedicated doctor. And for years his initial decision to choose this physician proved to be a good one.

Yet in spite of the importance of choosing the right health care professional, this Carnegie graduate dropped the doctor like a hot potato when managed care rolled into town. Because his company chose a managed care plan that would not allow the doctor to join the panel, the dedicated patient who had so carefully chosen and developed a meaningful relationship with his health care provider, decided to follow the impersonal dictates of the managed care plan.

Closer to my own area of practice, psychology, is another story that is even more disconcerting. A young teenage girl had been treated for depression by a psychologist. In actuality she was not seriously depressed but rather angry at her boyfriend for being somewhat shallow. The girl’s parents called the managed care company and were referred to the psychologist. After a few short sessions with the psychologist, the girl felt she had more control of the situation and would not allow the boyfriend’s manipulation to continue. Two weeks after terminating psychotherapy, the girl and her father had a fight that erupted into yelling and screaming between the two of them. The father in frustration called his managed care plan (an 800 number in southern California) and told them his daughter was suicidal. Without any psychiatric evaluation and without contacting the daughter’s psychotherapist, the clerk at the other end of the 800 number advised the father to take the girl to a psychiatric hospital. Although the girl was not suicidal and didn’t need hospitalization, she did learn to fear her father and to behave lest she be hospitalized again. Not a healthy outcome.

The mistakes made by the Carnegie graduate and the father of the teenager are not uncommon. There is a mystique about managed care. People have come to believe that the 800 number is like a parent, able to solve all of their woes. They believe that they will get the same personal service they received for years by a doctor who knows them. They are puzzled when the service they do receive is not sufficient to resolve the problem. Often they assume that there is nothing more that can be done, since their managed care company has not authorized additional services. It’s as if the managed care company has assumed the paternalistic mystique that the family doctor once held. But now the mystique has no concern about the individual, only cutting medical costs.

So when you are shopping around for a health plan, I hope you consider just what you are buying when it comes to mental health benefits. Do you have ample psychotherapy benefits; at least 26 to 52 visits per year? Do you have the right to choose the most experienced and competent psychologist? Is there true confidentiality guaranteed? Is the treatment plan dictated by actuarial tables or by the unique needs of the situation and the employee? Is the payment to the therapist worth the time of a competent professional, or are you forced to seek out an untrained, inexperienced person who will charge rock bottom prices? Ultimately you are responsible for your own health so make sure that you’re your own health advocate.

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. 

Keeping Secrets Creates a Tangled Web

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Keeping secrets is rarely a good idea, yet they are commonplace in society. The major reasons for keeping secrets are (1) to avoid disagreement and confrontation, (2) to protect someone from hurt feelings or even physical distress, (3) fear of punishment or embarrassment for a wrong doing.

Consider a few common excuses for keeping a secret and why you should think otherwise:

"What they don't know won't hurt them."


Why are secrets so bad if they don't hurt anyone? This is usually a rationalization. If you have to keep a secret, then it obviously affects other people. The content of the secret may or may not affect the other person adversely, but the question is, will keeping the secret affect the other person adversely?

"But he or she will get mad at me if I tell them the truth!"


No one likes an argument but it is foolish to think that you can go through life without having disagreements is unrealistic. Therefore it is useful to develop conflict resolution skills, rather than avoid the anger. The excuse that the other person will get mad if you level with him or her is a poor one. First, you never know if he or she will get mad. Second, even if he or she does get mad, the discussion doesn't have to end. Be brave and venture into conflict resolution. Third, the person may have every right to be upset that you withheld information (or lied) that affects his or her life. Think about it. How do you feel when a secret is kept from you, especially if your decisions depend upon the hidden information?

"It would be mean to be honest."


The problem with this excuse is that you have no right to assume responsibility for the other person's life or life decisions. When you keep a secret that affects the life of another, you are robbing them of the opportunity to take responsibility for their own destiny. Essentially it can be disrespectful to keep secrets. You are treating the other person as if they are incompetent to handle the truth. What makes you better able to handle the truth than the other person? Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it is embarrassing. Sometimes the truth is a powerful leveler without which you would never know you are in over your head.

There may be short-term gain in keeping secrets, but the long-term outcome is usually not worth the risk. Openness in all things is the answer, even if it is embarrassing, anger-provoking, or hurtful. Don't keep secrets, but if you already have, break them. Admit your failure, apologize to those you have lied to and make a promise you can live with. That is, promise to be responsible for your own actions, and allow others access to their own destiny through the truth.

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.

 



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