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Kathy Marshack News

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.

What Are You Really Teaching Your Children About Money?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


When children are young, they don’t understand the concept of what money is and how it works. Offer a little one the choice between a dull dime and a bright shiny nickel, and they’ll pick the nickel because it’s pretty and bigger.

When a child doesn’t learn the real value of money, as an adult they will struggle with money problems, which may escalate into relationship problems. Either they’ll undervalue it and squander it, thinking they can just ask for more. Or they’ll go to the other extreme of attaching too much importance to it sacrificing their own health or relationships for it.

A healthy view of money sees money as a means of exchanging what you have for what you want or need. To get money, you expend resources, such as time, accumulated knowledge and energy, to earn it. How can you instill good financial habits in children? What money values do you want your children to live by? An article written by a financial advisor, Wayne Von Borstel, made me think about this topic today. He had some very good advice.

First and foremost parents teach by example. Your children will copy your attitude toward money and the way you handle it. This is especially true if you run a family-owned business

You can discuss with your partner these questions to determine what model you’re giving to your children:

Do I argue over money with my spouse? Do we have a budget? Do we spend beyond our means, wracking up huge credit card debt? Do we make monthly deposits to a savings account? Do we make charitable donations? Do we keep funds especially earmarked for emergencies that can’t be dipped into for any reason? Do we save money for a vacation as a family? Have we set up a college fund for our children? Do we require our children to contribute toward any of these?

Helping your children see the real value of money also involves actively participating in making and spending money. When they earn the money they spend, they’ll make the connection that the amount available is limited by the time and effort put into earning it. This contributes toward creating a good work ethic. And as you guide them in how to spend money wisely, perhaps entrusting them with a specific amount for buying school clothes, or saving a portion in a savings account or college fund, they learn good financial habits.

What do you do when you want to train your children in money management, but your spouse has different ideas? Are you searching for conflict resolution techniques that really solve the issues over money in your family? If so, then contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and set up an appointment.

If you’re an entrepreneuerial couple I address parenting and financial disagreements in my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home. You can also read Wayne Von Borstel’s entire article, 8 Ways to Maximize a Child’s Financial Potential, here.

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.

Emotional Intelligence Plays a Part in Our Decisions

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Many don't realize that making good decisions is not based on high IQ. Rather it’s 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.

A recent article in the New York Times by Noreena Hertz, a professor of economics at University College London, caught my attention, Why We Make Bad Decisions. When she was confronted with a debilitating health problem, she became interested in researching through the academic literature in the fields of economic, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, information science, political science and history to discover the various factors that cause us to incorrectly process challenging news.

Research show that there are a number of the factors that influence our decisions such as:

  • Our perception of “expert advice.” A 2009 Emory University experiment showed that when a group of adults was confronted by an expert’s claims, they simply gave in to the advice without any further thought of their own.
  • Anxiety, stress and fear. These negative emotions can make us see only a narrow view of the situation so we become more conservative and less likely to take risks.
  • Natural born optimism. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot conducted a study that showed that people tend to ignore new information if it reveals that events will turn out worse than expected. If people think “it can’t happen to me” even unconsciously, they’ll grasp at information that agrees with the outcome they want. When information supports our hopes apparently we get a dopamine rush similar to when we eat chocolate or fall in love.

This information is empowering. It can help you to avoid mind games or self-told stories to rationalize your decisions. Instead, you can take control of your decision making process by acknowledging your feelings and then ask probing questions as you evaluate the pros and cons involved.

Often it helps to talk things through with another individual. If you’re faced with a life-changing or business decision that has you perplexed, seeking the counsel from a professional will help. A psychologist is skilled at helping you sort out your choices and get clear on your objectives when making big decisions in life. If you’re ready to gain that kind of clarity in your own life, make an appointment with my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Learn more on my website: Entrepreneurial Life.

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.

4 Steps to Healing Negative Emotions In Your Family Business Relationships

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


use a notepad to do these four steps to healing negative emotionsWhen you run a family business, unresolved emotions can complicate the business relationship. When you improve the parent/child relationship, your family business will be a much less stressful place in which to work. How can you do this?

To clear up the negative emotions you have with your parents or children, take a moment to do the following four steps:

Step one:

Go to a quiet place and think about what really makes you angry with your loved one. This is the time for honestly listing the flaws, mistakes, habits and traits that bother you.

Step two:

List everything you admire and are grateful for in your loved one.

Step three:

Now comes the harder part, honestly ask yourself which traits are you perpetuating in the family tradition. Feelings of guilt may make it hard for you to acknowledge your parents flaws or your own, so it might be wise to ask your spouse for input.

Step four:

Finally, make a plan of action to change the negative traits.

These four steps reveal a great deal. Because of feeling guilty and wishing to avoid blame, you may inadvertently be carrying on the same mistakes generation after generation.

The goal of each generation should be to improve, not repeat mistakes. Holding your parents accountable gives you freedom to do the same. Accountability is the answer to removing negative emotions. It does no good to keep doing the blame game. When you’re respectful in your confrontations, you can communicate how your parents/children have hurt or angered you. An essential key to being respectful is to give them the dignity of being capable of accepting responsibility for their mistakes and correcting them.

Another challenging business arrangement is working with your spouse. My book - Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home is now available on as a Kindle edition and will help you with this.

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



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