Philip Devine is a podcast host and producer, and occasional guest on other podcasts. He started out with a weekly podcast (Live Life Better) about being a better husband and father and has since produced multiple other shows (most recently Home For Dinner).
There are plenty of companies, coaches, et cetera, who don’t seem to be able to take their own advice. You probably know a few, the financial advisor who lays out a plan for you to get out of debt, while they themselves are drowning in it, the marriage counselor who’s been divorced multiple times, or the business coach who shares how to increase profits while they themselves are unable to run a profitable company. Now, these are all generalizations, and I understand that it’s not fair to paint everyone with the same brush. But my point is this. When you see someone who’s living out the same advice that they’re giving, it makes you stop and pay attention. Sometimes you just have to have those hard conversations.Tweet This This is a story of intentional decisions, of saying no to the good things, and yes to the best things. Because that’s the question right – can you be a successful entrepreneur and still have a healthy, growing family life? Welcome to Home For Dinner, a series focused on exploring that very question. Maybe you can have it all, or maybe not.   Episode Highlights 1:51 How Jackie and Stephana are using their mistakes to help others 3:16 Do you really have to choose between your family and your business? This answer may surprise you 6:12 “It sneaks up on you” – what to do when you get into a rut 6:50 The 15-minute rule, and how to implement it 8:34 “We’re not going to do this again” – the commitment Jackie and Stephana made after a hard conversation 9:42 The single most important word that takes back your time, grows your business, and serves your family 12:06 How Jackie and Stephana prioritized their speaking engagements 13:03 The events Jackie and Stephana never miss 17:47 Jackie’s advice on building your business without sacrificing your family 19:10 Stephana’s advice on success, even when you miss your routine 22:34 Quality versus quantity: Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe weigh in 26:00 The story behind the business: why Jackie and Stephana are passionate about building successful marriages 29:05 How Jackie defines success 32:27 How Stephana defines success 34:20 The resources, podcasts, and conferences that Jackie and Stephana recommend to help you crush it work and thrive at home. Resources Website – HappilyMarriedCouples.com Book – Shoe Dog: A Memoire by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight Book – Soar: Build Your Vision From The Ground Up, by TD Jakes Podcast – Online Marketing Make Easy with Amy Porterfield Conference – Committed For Life Marriage Retreat Conference – Weekend To Remember Contact Jackie and Stephana Find quiet, quality, uninterrupted time.Tweet This Special Thanks for Shelbyville Pharmacy for Sponsoring Season 1 of Home For Dinner.  Check out their website, or see what’s happening on Facebook!   Read Full Transcript Philip: There are plenty of companies, coaches, et cetera, who don’t seem to be able to take their own advice. You probably know a few, the financial advisor who lays out a plan for you to get out of debt, while they themselves are drowning in it, the marriage counselor who’s been divorced multiple times, or the business coach who shares how to increase profits while they themselves are unable to run a profitable company. Now these are all generalizations, and I understand that it’s not fair to paint everyone with the same brush. But my point is this. When you see someone who’s living out the same advice that they’re giving, it makes you stop and pay attention, especially when it comes to a couple who has worked together to build a successful family business that’s built around encouraging other marriages, especially when they’ve navigated homeschooling their kids, coached sports, and are involved in their church. Philip: But this isn’t a story about how to squeeze more time out of your day, or productivity hacks to make you more efficient. This is a story of intentional decisions, of saying no to the good things, and yes to the best things. Because that’s the question right – can you be a successful entrepreneur and still have a healthy, growing family life? Welcome to Home For Dinner, a series focused on exploring that very question. Maybe you can have it all, or maybe not. Philip: Jackie and Stephana, thank you guys for coming on the show. You guys have spent the past couple years encouraging couples with a business that centers around marriage and relationships. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Jackie: Yeah. It kind of started several years ago with the blog and just really built out of our mistakes, and the things that we went through in marriage, that we messed up on and learned from, and ultimately that God’s grace helped us to get through it where we can thrive and we can share with other couples and help them in their marriages who are in the same state or similar states that we were in. Philip: And real quick for our listeners in our Home For Dinner audience, this is a special interview because we’ve got Jackie and his wife, Stephana. We’ve got the spouses’ perspective on either side. And I knew both of you guys are integrally involved with your business, so this will be a really neat perspective to hear on how you guys do everything. As entrepreneurs, I’m an entrepreneur, you guys are entrepreneurs, we hear stories of Steve Jobs, the Elon Musks, the Richard Bransons, all these entrepreneurs that are literally changing the world. But we never hear about their families. And that’s cause for concern. Right? How have you guys managed to succeed in your professional life without sacrificing your family life? Because I’ll just real quick from my perspective, a lot of times I’m looking at things and I think it’s an either/or. And I think maybe that’s a false dichotomy. Can you guys share a little bit more about that? Jackie: Yeah. And I think sometimes I feel that way too. It’s like it’s hard. You focus on, one, family is a passion for me. And so everything that I want to do, I want to involve my family, so I think I may be different than other entrepreneurs in that respect, that I would rather have my family involved in entrepreneurial ventures or whatever it may be. I want to be involved in coaching the kids and teaching the kids. I’ve homeschooled. I’ve been a teacher in homeschool, so I think that is me, just my makeup. But I don’t think it has to be that way. I think there are ways where you can benefit. You can still grow in business, grow as an entrepreneur, grow in your career, whatever it may be, grow in ministry. And at the same time, your family not suffer and your family still be as important. Jackie: But I think that it is a delicate balance. And I think it’s something that you’re constantly … There is a tug of war. I think you’re constantly trying to figure it out. And seasons change, so we’re in a different season right now. We have two Little League baseball players. And anybody knows that if you have Little League baseball players, you know how much time that can take. And then we’ve got, like Stephana said, a 17 year old that we’re trying to get prepared for college. We’re at probably one of the busier seasons. Would you say, babe? Stephana: Yeah. I think it’s busier right now. But when we had infants, it seemed crazy busy too, just a little bit more rested, I guess now, than we were then. But I would say one thing that we realize is that we often have to reset. Sometimes you get in a pattern and you’re doing things, and don’t even realize that you’re working yourself into a rut. And you kind of have to step back and say, “Okay. Let’s prioritize what is important,” and kind of try to eliminate the things that we can. Philip: I want to go back to something you said, Jackie. You said you want to do something with your family that involves your entire family, your business, and all of that. Right? And so Stephana, I want to kind of ask you this question. Were you always on board for working with your husband? Or was that something that you kind of had to grow into? How did that all work out? Stephana: I think that I’ve always thought that I was on board to work with Jackie. What in my mind looked like us working together and what actually plays out sometimes is not exactly the same. But I enjoy it. Ideally, that seems perfect to me to have a family business to work together well. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds like. Philip: You mentioned being in a rut and hitting that reset button. And that kind of reminds me of a question that I ask a lot of people. How do you know you’re off track? How do you know that you need to hit the reset button? Can you share some indicators that you guys have learned over your 17 years working together as a family in a business? What are some things that you’ve seen where you said, “You know what, it’s time to hit the reset button”? Jackie: I think it sneaks up on you, almost like marital problems do. You don’t decide divorce, all of a sudden something big happens, you’re out of it. But over time, you’ve done that. And I think we’ve been in those situations before. And typically, I think one spouse recognizes it before the other. That’s the way I think it’s been in our relationship at least. We’ve been in this baseball rut before. There was a season … I think that first time we recognized at the same time. It just wore us out. I think one is, the best way to recognize it is to have regular communication. We talk about having at least 15 minutes a day with each other. We don’t always do that, just us alone talking, no phones, no distractions, no kids, none of that. Jackie: I think when you’re consistently doing things like that, when you’re consistently getting weekly date nights in where you can have conversations, and you can kind of check the pulse of where you are in your relationship, and also check the pulse of where you are in your family, I think then you can kind of ward off and recognize it. When you don’t do those things, it kind of blindsides you. You kind of find yourself tired. You kind of find yourself short with each other. You kind of find yourself missing things and running behind and all those different things. But you can kind of head it off. I think the best way to do that is with regular communication and spending that quiet, quality, uninterrupted time together. Philip: Quiet, quality, uninterrupted time. That’s good. That’s good. With the reset, now you mentioned some quick tips there about the weekly date nights, the 15 minutes together uninterrupted. And we will talk about some fantastic resources that are going to be available at the end of the show. But are those date nights and that kind of thing, are those the reset buttons? Or is there something specific that you guys do that is like, okay, we’re in the baseball rut, we’ve got to reset? Is there a specific tactic or something that you do specifically for that? Or does it depend on the situation? Jackie: The baseball rut that I mentioned those few years ago when we were doing baseball, both boys, kind of the first time we’d gotten really full fledged going into it, both of them. And we were doing fall baseball. And it was like both boys had multiple games on a Sunday. And we just looked up and we realized that we haven’t been to church. We haven’t spent any downtime. And that reset button then was that we came together and we both agreed. It’s like, we’re not going to do this again. So we committed at that time to never do fall baseball again. And we haven’t done it since. And we committed to take that season, which is August, September, early October, and to not commit to any of the sports or anything like that. And to this point, I don’t think we have done anything during that season. Have we? Stephana: Yeah, I think we’ve been consistent on that. Jackie: Yeah. To that, that was a reset where it’s just a drastic measures. Sometimes just having those hard conversations. You’re like, “Look. We’re doing too much in this one,” and you’re not always in agreement. One person may be like, “Well, I think we’re good. We’re good, and we can make it. Or this is okay. It’s almost over.” And the other may be like, “Look. We have to shut this down, or really, really rethink it.” It’s not a cut and dry answer, I would say, for us or for any other couple, I would think. But it really comes through communication. And sometimes it’s got to be some compromise and some sacrifice. Philip: Yeah. Yeah. Stephana, what about for you? Is there a specific situation that comes to mind, where you said, “We’ve got to hit the reset button,” and some corrective action you took? Stephana: Yeah. I think that what I recognize most is when we don’t have any margin. We don’t have any time outside of running from this thing to the next thing on every single day of the week. And that begins to be … It just wears on you. It feels like things that are important to you are not getting done. You come home, and you can’t really relax because things are out of order at home. Meals are not as they should be, preparation for being away from home, meals are not … It just gets hectic. And I feel that in all areas, it just feels like there’s no margin for anything. And so for me, it’s like I’m saying no. I might not be able to make this game. It’s important for me to go home and make sure that dinner is ready, or at least started, or groceries are picked up so that we could at least have something when we come off the baseball field. So it sometimes is not what I necessarily want to do because I don’t want to miss the games, but sometimes one of us has to. Philip: Yeah. I don’t know if you were trying to talk about our life right now, Loretta and I’s life, but when you talk about no more margin and things at home not getting done because you’re always gone or running from here and there, I know I can relate to that right now as we’re recording this. And I think it’s a constant battle, constant struggle. I did also want to ask. I know you guys and I know a little bit about your business. But I think for our audience, they may not know what it means to be an author, a blogger, speakers, and travel. If you go on your website for 2017, you guys were on the road a lot speaking at conferences. You just mentioned a full schedule with your family. And you guys are both involved with that. How did you guys managed to keep your family together while you have this full calendar of business engagements as a couple? Jackie: Yeah. Great question. Sometimes we don’t know. I think really, at the end of the day, it’s your commitment. What are your priorities? What’s most important? And the trips that we did, the traveling that we did, the work that goes into writing and speaking and all that, it can take time. And it can sometimes wear you down. But I think the biggest thing is we commit to our family and coming back. And we also learned some, I don’t know if you want to call them hacks, or tips, or anything like that, but a mentor of mine who also speaks on marriage, shared that he ran into that early on in his career. And one thing he tried to do is create some margin like Stephana said, by blocking off a day before, day after the trip where you don’t do any work or anything like that, so you come back and reconnect and spend time with your family. We’ve done that and we really try to schedule as best we can around things. Jackie: I don’t think we’ve been gone a birthday. We’ve never been gone on a birthday. And some of that has been in our control. Some of it hasn’t been in our control. But at the end of the day, your priorities come, and they will service what you spend your time and your money on is what’s most important to you, so we make sure we come back. And we miss our kids when we’re gone. We’re gone too many times in a row. I think the first time we were gone, it was like two months in a row we were gone back to back weekends. And we were like, “Woo. I don’t know if we can do this.” Ideally, it’s kind of played out this where we’ve got about one speaking engagement a month, with the exception of the summer and December. Even December, we’ve gone as well. And that has been manageable for us. But it’s not a piece of cake to do it. But little stuff like that, taking that day of kind of refreshing and getting back together, I think it’s helpful as well. Philip: You said something just kind of off hand, it sounded like. But you mentioned being home for all the birthdays. And some of that was not in your control. There was nothing booked then. But some of those you said were in your control. I’m going to take a stab here. But are you saying you turned down opportunities in order to be home for their birthdays? Is that accurate? Stephana: I think we have. Jackie: Yeah. I think we have, or asked them to reschedule. We’ve got one this year. I think this may be the first time where we will be gone, but we’re working it out where we can take the kids with us, which will be the first one. It’s on one of their birthdays. And it’s going to be at a bigger city than we’re in, so we’re expecting it to be fun and all that type of stuff, so it’ll be different. And my heart, my desire is that our kids can go with us on these speaking engagements and experience it, and when they’re able, run the camera or run the book table or something like that. But just give us some extra time when we go on certain speaking, not every one of them, business occasionally some of them where we’re able to incorporate them into it, and also incorporate some fun. Philip: I like to tell people when they say, “Philip, what do you do?” And I say, “Well, I’ve been piecing my income together for the past four years through real estate and marketing on the side and all kinds of different things.” I’ll say, that’s a tough decision you guys made to say no to an opportunity because as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, you always have to hustle. You can’t just rest on your laurels. And so saying no to an opportunity, a lot of times means saying, frankly, saying no to money. That’s really admirable and I think really inspiring. Stephana: I think if you decide in your family what is a priority, what your priorities are, what your foundation is going to be, then it makes the decision a little bit easier when it comes up. We know that our kids and our family, and knowing where they stand, what their place is in our lives, is more important than anything. The time together is more important than money, all of that. I think that helps us when it comes time to make a tough decision. And we don’t say it cut and dry to the person that’s asking us. But I think, thankfully, in most situations, people have been willing to even move their dates. So I don’t think it’s necessarily been a thing where we’ve had to. And I believe that’s the Lord’s favor for us honoring what he’s instituted in our family. To this point, thankfully, we’ve not had to lose an opportunity per se, or lose money. But things have been able to be rearranged or rescheduled so that we can still be a part of it and not miss out on what’s important to us as a family. Philip: Man, I love this because you guys are the real deal. You say no or you rearrange things, whatever it is. You say, “Hey. We can’t do this. Can we work something else out?” Because of your priorities, it is so encouraging to hear some of the struggles and the tensions that you guys have, but also how you guys manage those and really live out your priorities, which is easier said than done. So thanks for sharing that. Jackie: Yeah. Our pleasure. Stephana: Thank you. Philip: What advice do you have for the listeners, for the men and women who want to make it home for dinner, who want to crush it at work, and are not willing to sacrifice their families on the altar of career success? Is there one or two pieces of advice that you guys would have for them? I’d like to hear from you, Jackie, and I’d like to hear from you, Stephana. Jackie: I think one of the biggest things is just consistency. I forgot that quote. I’ll probably mess it up. How do you eat an elephant? It’s bite by bite or piece by piece. So you’re not going to be able to hit the home run and knock everything out. It’s just consistently doing stuff over and over, whatever the main things for your business that make that engine run, do those consistently over and over and over again. And I think that’s more manageable. And you’re able to kind of … I don’t know if pace yourself is right word or not. But just manage the time. You can do small things every day. If you do something every day towards your goal, then you’re going to get there. And you don’t have to just spend the whole day trying to crunch out one major goal and miss out on time with your family, or one week and miss that time with your family. I think that’s one of the biggest things. Jackie: And for me personally, and I go in and out. I’ll be completely honest and transparent and say I’m not as consistent with this as I want to be, but I think that’s your routines. And that kind of goes along with what I just said. Your morning routine, your evening routine, there’s certain things that get your day started right and get you on the right track and the right focus. And for me, that’s a morning routine. And to almost the same degree is an evening routine as well. Sometimes I’m on it. And then there’s seasons where I’m completely not doing it. And it’s reflected in my business and my family as well when I’m not. And when I am, it’s reflected as well on the good side. Those are two big ones for me. Stephana: I think that’s good. I would just add being intentional. Sometimes it’s not going to play out exactly as you desire for it to, but if you will put some intentionality in whatever you’re doing, maybe you don’t make it home for dinner when you thought you would, but be intentional about making that phone call, making the family know that, hey, I really regret this. This is not what I want to be doing. And try to find a way to be intentional in making it up or making the time special when you do get back together because there are some things that we share with couples that we think are important to do that you can’t do perfectly every single time. But if you will be intentional in looking ahead and planning when that’s not going to work out, it will make a difference. Philip: I’m Philip Devine. Stay with us. You’re listening to Home for Dinner. Hey everyone, a quick thanks to our sponsor, Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy. Entrepreneurship has this certain glamorous appeal to it. In Silicon Valley, people talk about red lining, seeing how long and hard you can go before you have to stop. Needless to say, it’s not good for your body, and it’s terrible for your relationships. What about if you’re not in the hub of entrepreneurship? What if you’re located in central Kentucky and want to provide a service to the community? Jason Underwood, the owner and pharmacist at Shelbyville Pharmacy, doesn’t go red lining trying to see how far past exhaustion he can go. But he does work a lot. Philip: I wanted to hear what Jason’s wife, Catherine, had to say about the schedule and the commitment. After all, she works full-time as a teacher during the day, and works as a tech at the pharmacy in the evening. She said a big part of keeping it all together, meaning her career, the pharmacy, and the relationships with their two boys and Jason, is knowing that there’s no other option. And you can’t just give up when it gets hard, even if it means she had a rough day at school, but still needs to spend three more hours at the pharmacy while their two boys are in the back. I also asked about meal times, and spending quality time together. And it came as no surprise that the easiest way for them to spend time together as a family was when they’re at the pharmacy, since Jason has to be there from open to close. And he’s usually there before and after. Philip: But what stood out to me the most was what Catherine told me at the very end of our talk. She said they both enjoy helping people. That’s why she’s a teacher, and that’s why Jason’s a pharmacist. And the pharmacy allows both of them to help others together. Special thanks again to Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy for sponsoring this season. Make sure you take a minute to stop by and say hello. For more information on Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy, check out their website at www.shelbyvillepharmacy.com. Philip: I struggle with quantity over quality, or quality over quantity with my family. And I oscillate between the two. And I was wondering what you guys think about that and how you guys handle that as well, as far as time spent. Jackie: Yeah. I think it’s both the quality and the quantity are important because I think you really can’t get the quality unless you do spend enough time together. You have to get that quantity time together. We give a formula that we share with couples. It’s small interactions plus shared experiences equal your love connection, so basically you’re getting those small interactions, that’s kind of like the quantity. And then you’re getting those shared experiences, that’s kind of like the quality. You’re getting more deeper experiences together. And that, when you add those two together, you get a connection. In marriage, that’s your love connection. I think the same can apply to your family with dad and kids, mom and kids, and vice versa. Both are very, very important. It’s hard to get that quality without the quantity. Any relationship that you have, you have to get some time together so you can get to the quality conversations and that deep connection that you want to get. Stephana: I think that, like Jackie said, quantity and quality is important. But to me, quality is more important than quantity is. And the reason I say that is because there was a season where we were at home together all day long, the entire family. We were homeschooling. Jackie and I both were working from home. And so the quantity, the amount of time was there. We were hardly ever apart. We were always together. But the quality of the time that we were having together was not very intentional. And I don’t think I recognized that until our lives changed, and we didn’t have that same amount of time together. I missed it. I felt like I missed something opportunities while we were all together that could’ve been really great. Now I’m sure everybody feels like they could’ve done a better job, and misses this or that. But I just feel like that the quality of time that you have, even if it’s small, if you are intentional with it and it’s a good time together, it’s not a bunch of time and you’re spent arguing or just passing each other in the house, it means a lot more. Jackie: Yeah. I want to piggyback on that because I think that goes into a good … When you think about family businesses and entrepreneurship, working from home, especially in today’s business world where many people work from home and can run businesses from their computers. Yeah. We’ve spent a lot of time together, and we may have been working together some of those times. But that quality time really in the relationship I think is what Stephana was missing. And we’re just kind of going, and [inaudible 00:25:13] was like, “Yeah. I seen her all day. We had meals together and everything.” I think that’s a kind of a tough line right there and something that probably, something that’s listening to this right now maybe can relate to if they’re home, as a homeschooler at home, as an entrepreneur running a family business together, you’ve got to still be intentional about that quality time. Philip: It’s clear that you guys are passionate about marriage and family and relationships. And I’m curious what sparked that desire, because it’s stronger in you. Maybe we just see it more, but it’s definitely an important thing, enough so for you guys to build a business around that. What sparked that in you guys? Stephana: I think that Jackie and I came into marriage … I don’t think, I know that we came into marriage the wrong way, came into it a little bit cart before the horse. Is that what you say? So we just really didn’t know what we didn’t know. And because of that, our marriage was rocky in the first few years and really difficult. And it was very possible that we wouldn’t be here today 17 years later because of us not doing things the way that God designed to be done in marriage. And so because we struggled and saw other couples struggle too, we became passionate about, first, how to make it. Just how are we going to stay married? How are we going to stay together for our kids and so forth? And then bigger than that: How are we going to model this relationship for our kids and for anybody else that’s watching? Because this is a blessing from the Lord, and he designed it to be an example. And so we realize that this is bigger than us just trying to make it. But we have an opportunity that we can be a blessing to other people just by doing what we’re supposed to do in our relationship. Jackie: Yeah. And I’ll say for me, family’s always been very important. I say my dad and my grandfather were very much family men, if you could put a tagline on them. And I think I followed suit in that. Stephana mentioned the cart before the horse. And our daughter, she’ll be 18 this summer. And we’re just turning 17 in our marriage, so that she was born before we were married. That’s where she said we did things out of line. And at that time, we weren’t really sure that … We weren’t engaged and committed like, yeah, we’re going to be together forever. We weren’t thinking, talking about marriage or anything. But the minute she was born, I know something sparked in me. And I was like, “I want a family. This is my family. And I want this to work and I want to be a dad, and eventually want to be a husband.” And we made that decision when she was 10 months old, or we got married when she was 10 months old. Jackie: But from then on, I don’t know if it’s that Bledsoe man gene or whatever kicked in. And I made plenty of mistakes then, still making mistakes now. But majority of my decisions are based on what I think and I’m believing is best for my family. And I do it the best I can in that regard. And I think my dad and grandfather did the exact same thing. But it’s always been in me. I talk about being on the baseball field with my boys. My dad was the same way with me and my brother, so I kind of see some of those things repeating. I think I watched it, and that ingrained it in me. But then when we had our own family as well, we learned something things that I didn’t know before about how to be a husband, how to be a father, and how God has set this thing up, and try to model as best we can in that regard. Philip: Now with all of that, Jackie, how do you define success? Jackie: One is that we are living out what God’s will for us is in our life. And I think one of that is we are going to make mistakes. We’re going to do things wrong, but we’ve got to learn and grow from it. I don’t think there’s a dollar amount. But I think if I am loving my wife as Christ loved the church, and I am teaching, raising my kids that they know in the admonition of the Lord, I think that is a successful thing. As far as business wise, and I am serving people and to the best of my ability and not focused just on me and what I can get out of it, but giving something to them first and making that my priority, making that my business or my ministry. Jackie: I don’t know. I don’t have a one liner for you. But as I think about the things that make me feel successful, spending … There’s a line in Lecrae, one of Lacrae’s songs, he says something about a daddy picking up his kids from school. And I forgot what he said before that. But that’s my thing. I pick the boys up from school every day, take them to school. That’s successful to me. That’s a big deal to me. Being able to be there when we take, Jaicey, our daughter, to school, college. That’s going to be a big thing. I think it’s several things that kind of add up. Philip: I think kind of the overarching themes of what you just shared about how you define success are those foundational aspects of your life. You’re not putting a dollar amount on it. You’re putting a value on it that’s beyond dollars, like you said, picking up your boys from school, dropping them off. Being able to take your daughter to college when she’s ready. All those things, it’s not about the money. It’s about, this is what I value. This family is what I value, and so if I can dedicate my life to that, then everything fits around that. That’s a good definition of success. Jackie: Yeah. I’m just being transparent. It’s not easy. And dollar amounts do come into play, like man, if we could just get it, we’d be a little bit better off. But at the end of the day, you have to have that foundation and that reminder. This, what we have is great. There’s kids without parents together. There’s spouses that aren’t together and different things like that. So we’re thankful for where we are with that. I’m still striving. For the entrepreneurs out there, it’s like, oh, I’ve got to hustle. I’ve got to grind. Yeah. You’ve still got to hustle. You’ve still got to grind. And you’ll continue to do that. The competitive nature in me is always going to do that and always try to learn. Always try to get better and see something new. Once you see something new or you learn something new, your mind is expanded at that point. You can’t go back, I feel like. I’m still striving and working for those things. And I’m not just content like, oh yeah, we’re cool right here. But there is a delicate balance. But you can’t let that one outweigh the other is what I believe. Philip: Yeah. That reminds me of a quote from an earlier interview. The entrepreneur said, “You go 110% all day at work. And so when you come home, you need to go just as hard with your family,” instead of thinking, well, I’m home now. I need to relax. No you’re home now. Keep going. And this time, the energy’s about your family, not about your job. And that’s good. Stephana, what about you? How do you define success? Stephana: I was just thinking about it as Jackie was talking about it. And I think when I think of the word success, I think about stewardship. And I heard a pastor one time talk about stewardship and it being that a good steward doesn’t … How did he word it? A good steward does not consume everything, but they multiply everything. And so if we can steward what God’s blessed us with in such a way that it is not consumed by us, that it’s not all about what we need and what we want, but we leave something for our kids to carry on and we give them good examples in how to walk this journey of life in a way that pleases the Lord, then I think that we’ve succeeded. We’ve left something for them to continue on and given them a good model to follow. Philip: Yeah. That’s part of legacy. That’s part of the legacy you leave, not just a financial legacy, but a legacy that allows them to live well based on what they saw modeled. That’s awesome. Stephana: Right. Philip: All right. Now you guys are published authors. And you speak at a bunch of marriage retreats and conferences. And it’s on our bucket list for 2018. I don’t know if we’re too far in to go see you guys speak. But what resources, books, and conferences do you recommend for our listeners? And I’ll say this for you guys, yes, the book Seven Rings of Marriage is a great resource. That will be available in the show notes. But go ahead. Jackie: I read a bunch of different books. And I’m a big audiobook and podcast listener as well. But one of my favorites, I’ll share a few. One of my favorites is, I’m a big Zig Ziglar fan, so sometimes I’ll get into modes where I’m just listening to Zig for a month straight, where I’m just, every day I get in the car, I’m putting on one of his audio books. And I’ve got one audio book where it’s like 15 hours, so I can go through it over and over again. But I also, I realized recently that I get into the stories, entrepreneurs, almost like the … I don’t read a whole bunch of biographies, but I do get into them. I’m reading one right now, or listening to it, actually. It’s called Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, who is the founder of Nike, and just his story and just what he’s gone through. And just hearing the struggles and the challenges that entrepreneurs go through. Jackie: You don’t hear those stories often. Of course, the media talks about what they’ve done, so many amazing things, and the numbers and where they are now. But a lot of them started just like us. All of them started just like us, from pretty much nowhere, and grew and made mistakes and learned from them. And had things that break them and destroy their families and all that type of stuff. But those are two big ones. Jackie: And I’ve got a couple others too, that I’ll share. Soar by TD Jakes. It’s one of the recent books. Well, actually I read it end of last year, beginning of this year. But it’s kind of his story too. And it’s more entrepreneur focused. You think TD Jakes, he’s going to be preaching and stuff, but it’s really his story and how he views himself as an entrepreneur and what it took to get where he is, and what it takes now to make it in today’s world of being an entrepreneur. Books like that, I really, really get into. Anything that tells a story of failure and how that turned into success and what they learned from it because you find yourself in that story so much. So those are the big ones for me. Philip: You mentioned podcasts real quick, Jackie. What podcasts are you a fan of because this is a podcast, so you know. Jackie: Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of the opposite of podcasts. When I listen to a podcast, I listen to more how to doing certain things in my business. One podcast that I consistently listen to, and I listen to audio books more than podcasts, but is Amy Porterfield’s podcast. I think it’s the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. But I really like the ones that break down a how to when it comes to podcasts. Philip: Perfect. Growing your business and your family, good stuff. What about you, Stephana? Stephana: Yep. Jackie covered the resources, so I was going to talk about the conferences. And there’s one that if any of the listeners are local or close to Indiana, we love Committed for Life. That’s a marriage retreat that’s been going on for 30 plus years. And it’s the first weekend in June annually. And it’s a really good, solid marriage retreat, where you’re going to get good, solid teaching. You’re going to have a weekend with couples all the way from newlyweds to married 50 plus years that are there not just as speakers, but are there to have their own marriages poured into. We really highly recommend that marriage retreat. Stephana: And then one that we hope to go to, we haven’t been to, but we’ve heard so many good things about from people that we respect their marriage, is the Weekend to Remember. And I think that’s all over the place. So for your listeners that are not local, you can probably find a Weekend to Remember that is nearby where you live. Philip: Thank you. And we will have all of those in the show notes so that if you’re driving right now listening to this, you don’t have to worry about writing it down. We’ll have it in the show notes for you. Jackie and Stephana, thank you guys so much for sharing authentically the ups and downs of your 17 years and then some, still going strong marriage and your kids and your business and keeping it all together. You guys are an inspiration and an example. And thank you for helping us all make it Home For Dinner. Philip: Home For dinner is produced by Devine and Company. This episode was written with help from Rachel White and Anna Tran. The music you heard in the show came from hooksounds.com and [Madismueller 00:38:38]. I’m your host, Philip Devine. Thanks for listening to this first season of Home for Dinner. Whether it’s a nugget on how to prioritize what’s important to you, or simply knowing that there are other entrepreneurs out there who are in your shoes, I hope what our guests shared in this first season was valuable to you. We’re working on season two of Home For Dinner, which is focused on boss ladies, women who have build successful companies without throwing their families to the wind. Here’s to crushing it at work and thriving at home. See you next time on Home For Dinner. The post “We’re going to do things wrong, but we’ve got to learn and grow from it.”: A conversation with Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe of HappilyMarriedCouples.com appeared first on Home For Dinner.
Entrepreneurship is kind of like social media. Usually we only see and share the highlight reel. We don’t get to peek behind the scenes of what people’s lives are really like. Granted, if you’re a single 20 something year old grinding it out 80 hours a week, it’s almost glamorous to be living off of Ramen Noodles to build the next big thing, because then you can say, remember when. But for those of us with families, it can seem daunting to make the jump. Then once we do the commitment is almost always more than we expected. Come Home. Be Home. Be Present.Tweet This That’s what’s special about our next guest. He’s at a point in his career where he serves as an advisor to entrepreneurs and works in venture capital. At least for me, that’s a place I’d like to get to. Because if you’re involved with venture capital, it’s generally an indicator that you’ve had something modicum of success yourself. What we don’t often see is the other side and what it took to get there. I don’t mean about the business struggles, those are documented well enough. I mean the side that isn’t talked about. Because frankly, I don’t think many entrepreneurs have been able to successfully navigate it. Episode Highlights [2:23]  Kelly’s response to the narrative of sacrificing your family for your company [4:06]  What changed when he had his first child [4:30]  The boundaries Kelly and his wife established around business and family [7:05]  What a marriage seminar taught Kelly about working with his business partner (and wife) [10:17]  How having a spouse on board can make or break your company [12:50]  The tension that Kelly didn’t just live in, but completely resolved [13:40]  “It was all integrated.” [14:25]  What lesson the Marine Corps taught Philip [14:53]  How Kelly knows he’s gotten off track at home [17:30]  The question you need to answer when evaluating a business decision [19:53]  Why you need to get away from your business in order to let it grow [22:43]  How Kelly manages the emotional ups and downs of entrepreneurship [25:36]  How he built multiple companies with cultures that respect limits [26:16]  What happens to your productivity if you work over 40-50 hours per week [27:25]  How your core beliefs shape your company [37:14]  The single most effective strategy Kelly has used to crush it was work and thrive at home Resources Seminar – Weekend to Remember (Marriage Retreat) Book – Choosing to Cheat: Keeping Your Job From Cheating Your Family, by Andy Stanley You may be the founder on paper, but your family is married to the business.Tweet This Special Thanks for Shelbyville Pharmacy for Sponsoring Season 1 of Home For Dinner.  Check out their website, or see what’s happening on Facebook!     Read Full Transcript Philip Devine: Entrepreneurship is kind of like social media. Usually we only see and share the highlight reel. We don’t get to peek behind the scenes of what people’s lives are really like. Granted, if you’re a single 20 something year old grinding it out 80 hours a week, it’s almost glamorous to be living off of Ramen Noodles to build the next big thing, because then you can say, remember when. Philip Devine: But for those of us with families, it can seem daunting to make the jump. Then once we do the commitment is almost always more than we expected. That’s what’s special about our next guest. He’s at a point in his career where he serves as an advisor to entrepreneurs and works in venture capital. At least for me, that’s a place I’d like to get to. Because if you’re involved with venture capital, it’s generally an indicator that you’ve had something modicum of success yourself. Philip Devine: What we don’t often see is the other side and what it took to get there. I don’t mean about the business struggles, those are documented well enough. I mean the side that isn’t talked about. Because frankly, I don’t think many entrepreneurs have been able to successfully navigate it. So, that’s the question, can you be a successful entrepreneur and still have a healthy growing family life? Philip Devine: Welcome to Home For Dinner, a series focused on exploring that very question. Maybe you can have it all or maybe not. Kelly: I’m Kelly Schwedlan. I currently serve as an Entrepreneur in Residence with Elevate Ventures. Philip Devine: I’m just gonna speak for myself and say that I love reading Inc Magazine about small business owners that are just killing it. And all the hacks they have for productivity. How they spend 48 hours a day working on stuff even though there’s only 24 hours. Philip Devine: But as a guy with a family and a wife, the thing that is always in the back of my head is, well, what about their families? If I want to be an entrepreneur and build a business, do I have to give up my entire family to do that? What would you say to that? Kelly: No, is the answer. To be quite honest, I mean you run the risk obviously of losing your family if you don’t spend enough time there. We started a family about the same time as we started one of the companies. So it was a bit of a learning experience on both sides from that. Prior to that, I had started a couple companies in college. I was just single and living off of my student loans and whatever else, right? Kelly: So, I mean, I didn’t have a whole lot of responsibilities back then, and probably had a lot more energy at that point and time. But I’d say the first real company that we started was a full on manufacturing company and we made these big machines and started with a couple of engineers. Shortly thereafter started a family. It was quite the learning curve, of where we went and how we accomplished all that, I guess. Philip Devine: Okay. How did having a family impact your work, as you went forward through manufacturing? I’m guessing you were married when you started the manufacturing company and it’s just you and your spouse, there’s a lot of flexibility to work long hours or just to do what needs to be done. How did that change, or did it change when a baby was introduced? Kelly: Yeah. So, we had a couple of things that I think began to shift along the ways. It wasn’t uncommon for me to work seven days a week, and that was kind of the norm. I would work during the week with the people on the team and then weekends I’d go in and do all the other stuff I never really had time to do right, so there are a handful of things that begin to shift on that, and I’m not sure where we finally drew the line on this. Kelly: I think two pieces that we kind of came to were Sundays were family time, I mean that was church and time together. So that became … unless I was traveling, you know, obviously. Then dinner time became a big thing and even to this day, dinners at 6 o’clock at our house. It’s funny how those habits become ingrained and if there was any reason … I know I feel this and I said this to my wife the other day when we were talking about being here. She doesn’t remember the actual conversation of when it happened, but it was literally like, “Well, if you can’t be here by dinner time, just stay until you get all your work done. There’s no point in being an hour late, or whatever. Just stay and get everything you can accomplished, stay to midnight, stay what ever it takes to get it done so that the rest of the week you can be here.” Kelly: In the early days the kids goes to bed at whatever it is, 8 o’clock or something like that so it was come home, be home, have dinner, do whatever with the kids, and then see them to bed. And then back in those days we had … this was kind of early days of the internet, in those days, so I actually had a screen emulation software so I could go to my computer, logon, and see my computer at the office. Because all our software was in the office and so I would get in and I would work after the kids went down. Kelly: That time at home, that come home, be home, be present in-the-moment kind of thing really kind of started right when they were born. Philip Devine: How many kids do you have? Kelly: Just two. Philip Devine: Okay. Kelly: Yeah. We have one of each and that was okay with us. Philip Devine: Kind of called it a day at that. Kelly: Yeah. I think the other part of that was, is that we ended up selling that company and then starting another one and after the second one was born and so for the early days of that we didn’t have any health insurance and so we’re like, okay, well we’re gonna stop having kids and then it was like well I guess we’re not having anymore kids, so that was kind of … that worked out. Philip Devine: Yeah. Deciding factor there. What does your wife do? Kelly: Accounting. This is interesting, somewhere along the way we did a Marriage to Remember seminars, I think my parents sent us to us like, this was before the first kid was born. It was really interesting because it really helped understand how your opposites are not a distraction as a couple, but they’re actually completers, like you complete each other, that’s kind of the original design kind of thing, right. So, she’s really detailed and was really good at books. I’m really good at finance but not … I don’t like doing things the same every day, right? Philip Devine: Yeah. Kelly: And that’s kind of her strength. And, so a number of companies along the way, she started out as helping us with the books and accounting and that kind of stuff. She still does that today, for another firm now. Philip Devine: So you guys worked together in your companies. Kelly: Yeah. We actually met … to back up a little bit, along the way after a couple of first companies in college I really got frustrated, I couldn’t figure out how to make them grow and so I ended up going back and getting a job at this fast-growth company, [inaudible 00:08:10] 500 company. I learned a lot, in fact a lot of that really bleed over into a lot of the other stuff that we did, but that’s where we met. When we met, I was on the road all the time as a salesman. We ended up setting up locations overseas and so when we were engaged it was like I was gone immediately off to England to set up an office in England and was gone for six months. Then another one in France and the running joke was that I was never there for a Valentine’s Day, I was always on the next … Philip Devine: Next adventure somewhere. Kelly: There was a part of that of sort of expectations that I was kind of on the road all the time anyway. It was not new that I was busy when I was home, either, so I mean. Philip Devine: I can relate to the … you mentioned you got engaged and like the next night you’re off to another country- Kelly: Literally. Philip Devine: … for six months. My wife and I got married and then two weeks later I left for seven months, when I deployed. It’s a good test for your marriage early on. Kelly: It’s a long story but … actually, I did the same thing because we were working on the office in France, or distributor in France and so after we got married, four days later I … but we went on our honeymoon for two weeks, came back from our honeymoon and then, I think, three days later, I left to go back to France to finish up the work. Left her by herself, yeah. Philip Devine: Prior to recording, we talked a little bit, and Kevin Bailey was in here as well, and you mentioned something that’s really helped you and your family be successful, as you build multiple companies, is having a spouse that’s understanding. Talk about that a little bit. Kelly: Yeah. I think a lot of that probably comes down to communication, I wouldn’t say I’m the best at it per se, but she has really been supportive even when various family members haven’t always been supportive along the way. I think that’s a huge part of being a success is being on the journey together and recognizing that I may be the quote founder on paper but the reality is that your family is marrying this business. Without that support structure, and I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it ruin peoples marriages along the way and, for whatever reason, she has been just super supportive and as result of that we’ve been able to have some modicum of success along the way. Philip Devine: Yeah, okay. So, you’ve got two kids. You guys work together … have built and sold multiple business … you are an investor, you advise. How long have you guys been married now? Kelly: 28 years. Philip Devine: 28 years, so whenever someone tells me how long they’re married I always reflect on it based on how old I am and I’m 30, at the time of this recording. It always blows my mind when people have been married either longer than I’ve been alive or just about as long because that’s … that’s really neat so congratulations, that’s great. Kelly: I think the other part of that too is that we were friends first so because we had had an opportunity to work together beforehand, we really got to know each other. It wasn’t … and I mean I would be remiss if not saying that she is my best friend as well. It’s not like well I want to ditch timeout and go hangout with the guys or whatever, it’s like no, she’s really, over the time, become my best friend and I think that is also a part of that, as well. She would probably suggest that I need to spend more time with her but anyway[crosstalk 00:12:34] Philip Devine: I’m guessing that’s always a tension. I mean that tension never goes away, the pull between building something you love, like you said your family marries the business. So, you want to spend time building something you love, at the same time you also want to spend time with those you love. That tension, does that ever really go away? Kelly: I don’t know. You know, I was really fortunate because after we sold the manufacturing business, the next one I started was professional services, we did business coaching for about eight years and I started it out of the house and so because of the flexibility that gave me, as the kids were in grade school, kindergarten, grade school. I actually, when they came home from school, I could schedule my time so that I could go play golf with them or go do whatever. There was a lot of those kinds of things … I call it my first retirement, kind of thing … where in those young years I actually, it was all integrated, it wasn’t one or the other and when we started the FinTech company the kids were the ones who were helping put the marketing materials together. We would send out binders of stuff and I had them in the basement laminating things, and punching things, and putting binders together. I don’t know that they think of that fondly, but it was very all integrated into not so much work life balance so much as work life harmony. Philip Devine: What are some indicators that the harmony is off track? For me, I guess I lean a lot on my time in the Marine Corp. because that’s when there was a lot of pressure to always be there, and then have a family. One of the things that I noticed was that, for whatever reason, when things were going well at home, at work I was just miserable. When things were going great at work, I wasn’t always the best guy to be around at home. And the military may not be the best analogy for that but what are some indicators that you’ve found through your … basically 30 years of marriage and multiple businesses that say, something’s off here? Kelly: Usually my wife’s the one that tells me. Over the years we’ve gone … aside from the dinner thing, that kind of has been a key piece of our time together. The whole family comes together, has sits down, has dinner, the whole thing. Aside from that, I’d say my wife bought me a book called Choosing to Cheat. And it was really about cheating on your family in order to spend time at work, and you’re always choosing to cheat. Kelly: No, it’s never an easy thing. Through some of that involved us carving out time, and for a while we had, a monthly first Thursday of the month kind of thing where we do date night. And, so how did we structure that time so that just the two of us? Not the whole family, no kids. Figure out how do we get out and just spend time together and do something, and go out to dinner or a movie or whatever it might be. She’s usually pretty good when she feels like I’m over committed, to reel me back in and say, “Hey, we need to spend some time together.” Philip Devine: This is real encouraging because my wife Loretta also is very vocal, in a respectful way, but very vocal when she’s like, “You know, you’re too busy and you need to cut back on stuff.” It’s not a fun process, the cutting back piece but [crosstalk 00:16:36] Kelly: At various point in times, I’ve had anywhere from three to five businesses going at once. As we’ve been in startup mode on multiple businesses, or we’ll have one up and running and it kind of feels like it’s not growing anymore and I’ll kind of dabble in some other things on the sides. So, we’ll have multiple things going on at various points and times and there are times when it’s a season and you go okay we need to dial it back and figure out how do we spend time together, spend time together as a family. Kelly: And so, those are some of those pieces where it’s like okay, some take a little longer to unwind. And that’s part of the pieces, like okay this is the milestones. It’s funny now to think back about it because I haven’t really thought about until you just brought it up, when we talk to entrepreneurs and say, “Okay, you’re gonna take money and you’re gonna do X, there’re these milestones you want to hit.” Kelly: For most of the businesses I didn’t have outside investors, usually after the early ones we bootstrapped most of the rest of them. But, she’s been that person to say okay tell me when this gonna be, what’s that timeline of getting this, I would say corrected but, getting, what’s the milestones that I should expect. She forced me to sit down and say okay, well if we can’t this one to make this happen by this time then we’ll cut that one loose, get rid of that website and that company and whatever the spend on that, usually it’s the spend that gets her the most, to be quite honest. Philip Devine: So, even though you were bootstrapping most of your companies, it sounds like your wife was the investor putting on the pressure. Kelly: Yeah. The reality is, is when you’re a sole proprietor with a spouse that’s your board of directors. And in fact when we had the consulting company, we actually called it that. We had these board meetings where we’d go and sit down and have lunch together and talk through what we’re doing and what’s next and where we’re going with this and she’d give me feedback on it. She obviously knew the books so she knew how realistic some of the things were and weren’t. Somewhere along the line, which was really kind of nice, my father-in-law was nice enough to buy my kids each a week timeshare- Philip Devine: Oh, cool. Kelly: No. We ended up paying the maintenance fees on it, but that gave us sort of this two week time window where we could go anywhere, originally it was in Disney right, so [inaudible 00:19:26] Disney, but we would cash it in and go somewhere. We’d go skiing or we’d go whatever and that was kind of a nice forced mechanism to take those two weeks and go do something away from business. And I think, in the end, it’s hard to say that to somebody whose in the early stages of starting a company because there’s just so much to do, so much that needs to happen but there’s a lot to be said about getting away from the business in order to be able to focus the big picture when you come back, and be thinking about the world and not just, you know what do I need to do to get this deal to close kind of thing. Recording: Stay with us you’re listening to Home For Dinner. Recording: What comes to mind when you hear these things? A custom curated reading collection, locally brewed kombucha in small batch hard to find soda. No, this isn’t some hipster hotspot where guys in flannel shirts with sculpted beards and ladies with large hats, hangout, although that wold be cool too. This is Shelbyville Pharmacy, a local independent pharmacy owned and operated in central Kentucky by Jason Underwood. While you won’t find any pallet walls inside or Edison light bulbs suspended from the ceiling, Jason did play with the idea of suspending a kayak from the ceiling, but more on that later. Recording: Anyway, we’ve all been in the chained pharmacies with harsh lighting, cold metal shelving, and an impenetrable wall between you and the pharmacy staff. It’s not the best experience for anyone. What you will find though is that everything is hand picked in Shelbyville Pharmacy. There are things that you don’t normally notice but were done on purpose, things like warm LED lighting, a swinging half-door at the front counter so that he and the team can easily walk out and help you. Wood-grain fixtures and earth tone colors for a more natural feel. And professionally balanced speakers for the perfect blend of background music. Recording: Now you can let your friends know that you got your prescription filled at a pharmacy that literally handpicked everything in the store. From the types of light bulbs to the waiting seats, which you never use because your prescriptions always ready. To the products on the shelves and, yes, even the medication you get. Recording: So, special thanks again to Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy for sponsoring this season. Make sure you take a minute to stop by and say hello. For more information on Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy check out their website at www.shelbyvillepharmacy.com. Philip Devine: One of the things I’ve noticed is that in Gimlet Medias Podcast StartUp they talk about the Trough of Sorrows and I’m not in any of that world, but I have noticed that starting a business … I’m still in the middle of trying that, right, but starting a business is really emotional, for me anyway. I feel like there’s days when I’m on top of the world and I could probably conquer everything and there’s days where I feel like I’m 30 years old, I have a mortgage, a wife, and 4 kids. What am I doing with my life? I imagine you’ve had multiple instances of that, how have you dealt with that? Kelly: I’m not sure that I know the best answer to that, I think my faith has probably been a big part of that to be quite honest with you. Because it gives you a constant reflection on the fact that this is all just a game and all the pieces go back in the box at the end of the game. How you play the game is important. All that money and stuff that you gather going around the board is fun but, at the end of the day, you don’t get to keep any of it, it’s not real. Kelly: So, I think there is a part of me, over the years, kind of grew into that understanding of things. I would certainly say in the early days of you know the manufacturing business that I was really susceptible to the swings of … and it was a brutal business, to be quite honest, because its capital equipment, you sell something or you go out of business. We had a three week delivery time on that stuff so, literally, in a month if we didn’t sell something, we were out of business. Kelly: There’s a lot of pressure to reach in, you know, find new companies and that and we have great people. I mean quite honestly it was as much about finding the right people and being part of that, but there’s a lot of pressure when you’re the guy who’s got to make sure that they get a paycheck, regardless of how they preform. Those days are trying, I mean live through that [inaudible 00:24:13] we’ve got to get this done, done and installed, or nobody gets a paycheck this week, and you’re balancing, Okay, which one can we get to cross the finish line this week so that we can make payroll.” I still remember those days, that’s not a fun thing to be sitting around trying to figure out on Thursday how you’re gonna make payroll on Friday. Philip Devine: You’ve led multiple companies and you advise companies now. You mentioned, just right now, the pressure of delivering to the customers so you can deliver to your team so that everyone can eat and go home. As the number one person, the one in charge, how you behave is gonna impact everyone else, right they’re gonna model their behavior after you. I’m taking the assumption here that with the integrated work, life, you know the integration of that, there were some ebbs and flows of how much time you had to spend at work and vice versa, but how were you able to or were you able to build companies where that kind of ethos was embedded in the culture versus the Silicon Valley ethos of, work 80 hours a week or 120 hours a week and only work? Kelly: Yeah. So, the first company was probably a lot more of the … you know that was the early days of the … you’ve got to come home or if you cannot come home, just stay till you get it done kind of a thing. When the kids came around, that certainly became part of that, and I think that one was the hardest for a lot of reasons. I think one of the things that, as you get more mature you began to realize, is that there’s just limits to what you functionally can accomplish. Despite the 80 hour week quote mindset, whatever, you’re not really productive past much over 40 anyway. Kelly: The real question is, what are you doing with those 40? What I spend a lot of time on, and this is with our FinTech company, I think by then it was a lot more, to me it was a lot more pronounced in my head, some of these things. Of course being in FinTech, we were only open when the banks are open because we can’t move money when the banks are closed, right. There were certain perks related to being in that space where you really couldn’t do a whole lot when nobody was around. Kelly: By then, you become the culture keeper and I think it was really fascinating to me because we grew that to about 80 people, doing about 3 million a month in revenue and that one, along the way you began to go though the changes of hey, it’s three of us in a basement to … I think we had 50 people in our office in the town that we were in and along the way you began to add people based on common beliefs early on because I was using my network to find people, hire people. Kelly: It was a lot of cultural fit and then somewhere along the way we actually tried to codify it and say what does that mean, what does that look like. If we’re gonna hire people out of Chicago and poach them and get them to come work for us, literally we had people all over the country at some point. How do we help them understand what this culture is and let them opt out. It wasn’t a, you have to do this, be this, whatever. I was like, no I want you to understand who we are and what we believe in, and why we do what we do, and if that works for you then great, come be a part of this. If it doesn’t then maybe you should go do something else. Kelly: We struggled, how do we make decisions … the funny part about, I laugh at this now in my head but, at the time you’re struggling through this whole idea of the not wanting your core beliefs and all the things you see on plaques when you walk in to be platitudes. Kelly: A lot of what we struggled with was to actually go through … there was three of us founders in the FinTech company, it was really kind of figuring out, how do we actually make decisions? Not what’s the ideal thing that we think about talk about, whatever. It was how do we make decisions and then how do we codify that so that people can make decisions without us having to be involved? That became how we tried to articulate the structure, the core of who we were. It’s kind of a reversal of that mentality. Kelly: Something you said earlier made me think of this too. We were really, really focused on making people productive, back to this work life balance. We were talking about this before, I didn’t think about this a couple months ago when we were talking about some core metrics and how businesses use core metrics. Near the end we were running about $400,000 of revenue per employee which comparatively speaking SalesForce is one of the top companies in the country and they’re right about 300,000 per employee. A lot of that was because I just wanted to make my employees lives better. I didn’t want them to work 80 hours a week. So, we constantly focused in on what are the key frustrations that you’re experiencing? That if we doubled in size tomorrow the wheels would fall off where you work, or where you work, or where you work and so we spend a lot of time working on those things, how do we make your life easier, how do we make it better, and if you’re a more productive employee you’re a happier employee. Kelly: We had a phenomenal … and the same thing with our customers, our customers loved us. We tried to do this thing, it was kind of before the Net Promoter Score, that’s now common. We just had people rank, how was the service 1-10, and we were like 9.7. There wasn’t anything we could do to move the number any higher. People gave us nines and tens, they loved working with us. That was really a credit to our team and the people. They loved helping people, and so it was getting the right people in the company. But I’m not a huge believer and part of that is getting the right people because if you get the right people, they don’t have to work 80 hours a week, they’re productive when they’re there and they can go away. Kelly: Where you really run into the problems is you get people that are not terribly productive people and you’re driving them to get more out of them and that doesn’t work. It’s like, well then maybe they’re not a good fit, maybe what they need to be doing is somewhere else instead of where we are. I matured into that role I’d say, clearly in the early days, I probably worked way too much, it was not uncommon for me to work 80 hours a week in the first company, but it was very uncommon for me to work more than 40 or 50 later on. Maybe that’s maturity, maybe it’s success, I don’t know. Philip Devine: Thankfully, you’ve learned that as you’ve gone on and you’re sharing that with us here so for those of us that maybe aren’t at that maturity level, hopefully we can lean on that wisdom. You mentioned when someone would come work for you, and you’re trying to squeeze everything out of them that you can and they’re just not productive while they’re there, it sounds like you’re able to turn off what’s going on and be present whether you’re at work, or at home or with your kids, with friends, whatever, you’re able to kind of shut it off and transition. How do you do that or what are, I don’t even want to say hacks, because hacks means you’re taking a shortcut and it’s not sustainable. What would you say to that? Kelly: I’m not sure, again you look back at different points in time in my life and I would say that part of the reason I worked 80 hours a week during the early days is that the work that I needed to get done, I did between 5 o’clock in the morning and 9 o’clock in the morning. I would get up early and I’d go into the office and between 5 o’clock and 9 o’clock I would do all the work that I needed to get done for the day. And then between 9 o’clock and 5 o’clock my job was to help everybody else get their job done. Kelly: So really looking at where the bottlenecks were for them and helping eliminate them. Do I need to go get you something, do I need to get … I found my myself, my job as a facilitator of other people. We had a really talented engineers, we had really talented machinist, and whatever. It’s like my job was to make sure they could do their job as efficiently as possible. I would spend my entire day trying to make sure that we were getting there. That kind of the same thing with the FinTech company, my job was to elicit from you as an employee, what is it that we could do better at, and at some point that becomes the core of it. Kelly: Although at one point, and this was kind of a funny story, a part of the FinTech company, I spent time going overseas and doing economical development in a variety of underdeveloped countries, with a nonprofit. We were in Mongolia and in some disaster related areas, and looking at business development in Bosnia and some other places, after the war. One of the funny parts about that was, is I did a trip, I think we spent about two weeks in China, in various remote parts of China. While I was gone they hit records, it was real obvious to me because when I’m there I’m tweaking around the sides which takes peoples time away from doing their job right and so the comment was is that my chief operating officer, she basically came to me and said, “So tell me again when you’re going on your next trip so that we can expect our next top month coming up?” She’s really like, “You need to get away a little more frequently so that we can actually get more work done.” It was kind of funny story. Kelly: And I think it was healthy because it also gave me, again back to this idea of being able to get away and being able to then come back and focus on big picture items and not get stuck in the minutiae of certain things, kind of thing. But the other thing we did is we built an ethos around the efficiency, right. Because we started early on asking the right questions, everybody in the organization became part and parcel to asking the next questions. Kelly: It’s a lot easier to do in a fast-growth company because you are … we were growing 27% a month, we did that for 18 straight months. In that timeframe, it literally was in two months, three months time you’re gonna double the amount of transaction volume we were having, double the amount of work. It was easy for people to go … you know their job wasn’t in jeopardy because we were going to make it efficient, if their job was going to go away, it was more of if we don’t figure out ways to make this more efficient, I’m gonna be crushed under the workload, and so that was part of it, I guess. Philip Devine: You have shared so many, not just abstract principles but concrete examples, so many nuggets of wisdom throughout this entire conversation to dispel the myth of the entrepreneur who can’t have a family. You can do both. It is possible. What’s one parting shot that you have, what’s one thing you would tell to an entrepreneur starting out with a family, what’s the one thing you would say to them? Kelly: It really comes back to what we talked about at the very beginning and that is to put it on your calendar because if you have a meeting set on your calendar you go make it happen. For a long time … now it’s just dinner at 6 o’clock … but for a long time it was actually, I had scheduled on my calendar 6 o’clock dinner, so nothing else got penciled in around … And then the same thing happened with date night, for example, it’s like we put it on the calendar and I didn’t schedule anything else because there was something on my calendar at that point and time. It never became this, “Yeah, someday we’re gonna be able to get it.” Just put it down make it happen, just like you do everything else. I think that, in and of itself, becomes part of the process that, make time, make it happen. Philip Devine: Awesome. Thank you so much Kelly for your time. Kelly: Hey, it’s been a pleasure being here. Recording: Thanks for listening to this episode of Home For Dinner. Subscribe on Apple Podcast or wherever you listen and leave a rating and review so that we can get this important message out to entrepreneurs everywhere. Go to www.homefordinnershow.com to get access to show notes and additional resources. And reach out on Instagram, we’d love to hear about your successes and your struggles in building a company without sacrificing your family. You can find us on Instagram at @homefordinnershow and email us at homefordinnershow@gmail.com. Home For Dinner is produced by Devine & Company. This episode was written with help from Rachel White and Anna Tran. The music you heard in the show came from HookSounds.com and Madison Mueller and I’m your host Philip Devine. See you next time on Home For Dinner. The post “You Don’t Have To Trade Your Family For Your Company, Or Your Company For Your Family.”: A conversation with Kelly Schwedland of Elevate Ventures appeared first on Home For Dinner.
  Being acquired is a dream that many tech entrepreneurs work towards. It’s what’s known as having a successful exit. And rightfully so. It’s a badge of pride for the co-founders who have successfully navigated an acquisition. So who would’ve thought that as a 27-year-old co-founder looking at multiple offers for his company, Kevin was about to enter one of the most difficult periods of his life? Happy entrepreneurs build happy companies, with good cultures, that create products that help the world.Tweet This Kevin shares in raw detail the reality of what happens when you lay it all on the line for your company, working as though burnout can’t happen to you. And it’s not the ending you’re expecting. This isn’t a Cinderella story ending that you read about in magazines like Fortune and Inc or the many business podcasts out there. This is a story about the highs and lows of running a high-growth company, the lasting effects of making decisions with a scarcity mindset, and what the future looks like when you’re burned out, disillusioned, and are holding on to just a glimmer of hope. Episode Highlights [2:14]  The vital belief Kevin holds about entrepreneurship [2:59]  How Kevin made his first $1000 in high school [4:20]  Kevin’s situation when he became CEO of a startup, and how that impacted how he worked [5:31]  How Kevin and his team responded to multiple offers to buy his company [6:35]  The life event that changed everything [7:34]  Why Kevin’s mindset shifted, and what it cost him [9:29]  How turmoil in the founders’ personal lives hurt their business [10:45]  The things entrepreneurs don’t talk about (but need to) [14:10]  Why your mindset matters [16:49]  What Kevin has learned from his previous experience at a startup CEO with a successful exit [19:12]  What Kevin hopes to achieve with his role at PowderKeg [20:18]  The business decision Kevin made for his family [20:52]  The sacrifice Kevin isn’t willing to make [22:00]  The new habit has helped Kevin maintain the balance in his life [22:46]  How Kevin’s kids are an early indicator he’s getting off track [24:08]  What being in “Flow State” has done for Kevin’s business and life [25:30]  Kevin’s parting advice to entrepreneurs who want to crush it at work and thrive at home [26:48]  The resources Kevin recommends [27:36]  Kevin’s definitions of success…both at home, and at work   Resources Book – Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership by Dr. Alan Watkins TED Talk –  “Being Brilliant Evey Single Day” Article – Flow State: What It Is And How To Achieve It Article – The Wim Hof Breathing Method Company – Powderkeg Contact Kevin – Kevin@Powderkeg.com Taking the long-term into account will cause some short-term pain. You have to be okay with that.Tweet This Special Thanks for Shelbyville Pharmacy for Sponsoring Season 1 of Home For Dinner.  Check out their website, or see what’s happening on Facebook!     Read Full Transcript Philip Devine: At first glance, Kevin Bailey is unassuming. He’s got an easygoing, laidback, conversational tone. And when you sit down to talk to him, you realize he’s sincerely interested in you as a person. But what you don’t see are the scars and hard-fought lessons learned that have impacted Kevin’s outlook on entrepreneurship and life today. Philip Devine: Being acquired is a dream that many tech entrepreneurs work towards. It’s what’s known as having a successful exit. And rightfully so. It’s a badge of pride for the co-founders who have successfully navigated an acquisition. So who would’ve thought that as a 27-year-old co-founder looking at multiple offers for his company, Kevin was about to enter one of the most difficult periods of his life? Philip Devine: Kevin shares in raw detail the reality of what happens when you lay it all on the line for your company, working as though burnout can’t happen to you. And it’s not the ending you’re expecting. This isn’t a Cinderella story ending that you read about in magazines like Fortune and Inc or the many business podcasts out there. This is a story about the highs and lows of running a high-growth company, the lasting effects of making decisions with a scarcity mindset, and what the future looks like when you’re burned out, disillusioned, and are holding on to just a glimmer of hope. Philip Devine: So that’s the question: Can you be a successful entrepreneur and still have a healthy, growing family life? Welcome to Home for Dinner, a series focused on exploring that very question. Maybe you can have it all, or maybe not. (Silence) Kevin Bailey: I have a pretty strong belief that happy entrepreneurs build happy companies with good cultures that create products that help the world in some way or another. And frustrated entrepreneurs and executives that have a poor home life tend to build products and companies that have lacking cultures that might build products that maybe don’t add much to humanity. Philip Devine: Did you start out with that kind of view, or did you see an example that kind of … was there a pivotal moment where you said, “Okay, this is the way I’m gonna pursue entrepreneurship?” Kevin Bailey: Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen it all over the place. And I also lived it in my own company. Growing up as a kid, I was the first kid in my high school to basically learn to code and build websites. That made me … well, I guess I learned how to code, build websites on my favorite automobiles, and that allowed me to … once I figured out how to do search engine optimization, monetize it. So I was the first kid in my high school to bring an advertising check in for 1,000 bucks plus and show my friends, which kind of got everybody excited, including two people, Aaron Aders and Jeremy Dearringer, who asked me to mentor them on how to build websites themselves so they could go from delivering pizza for seven dollars an hour to making cool grand in advertising revenue. And this was way back in like 1996-1997. Kevin Bailey: I taught them how to do it. They also were car enthusiasts. Built websites on their favorite automobiles, and we all started making decent income from that. Started building real estate websites. Then we all went off to college, and I … tech bubble burst when I was in college. I decided … always been ambitious. So I was like, “Well, market finance sounds like an interesting profession where it’ll challenge me.” So I went into … I switched from tech into that, made a double major at Indiana University Kelley School of Business in finance and accounting. Came out of that, went into consulting in Chicago, which was a great business experience for you to learn how to build a good business. Kevin Bailey: I was considering a career change, and I came back through Indiana. Those two friends that I had mentioned in high school were starting basically a web development company called Slingshot. And they said, “Hey, you have a good business pedigree. We’re just kind of getting this off the ground. What do you think of joining us?” That point, I had no family. No kids. So I decided, what the hell? Kevin Bailey: So I wrote the business plan, became the CEO of that company. And kind of getting back to what I said about happy entrepreneurs create good companies. At that point in my life, I felt I had never really experienced challenge to any extent in my life. Maybe as a kid a little bit, but outside of that, felt like the world was my oyster and I could do anything I wanted. Had a very abundant mindset. And we just sort of shot for the clouds, and we ended up hitting it. Our company grew over 100% a year for five years straight. Some years 3-400%, obviously in the early years. Scaled to 100 employees, we had 10 million dollars in revenue. And we were at the point where we hit 10 million dollars in revenue. And we were a scaled technology company, so we were doing marketing services through some technology. Kevin Bailey: At that point when we were at 10 million dollars in ARR, we had three companies approach us to acquire us for about … tens of millions of dollars. The top was about 60 million dollars. Again, we’re all 27-28 years old. We didn’t even have investors. It was just us. We owned 100% of the company with some stock options for some of our employees, so we were floored. And we had built a culture at our company of … kind of what I was alluding to before. I had this abundant mindset, and so did my two partners, so we had this culture where everybody thought they could do anything. And we had superheroes in our company. I wouldn’t say we were the most mature tech company in the world, but we were ambitious, and we did what we said we could do. We had a great track record of success. Kevin Bailey: But when we got those offers to buy our company, and we realized truly what we had, and all eyes were on us … we had press calling us “The Cinderella Story of Indianapolis” and stuff like that. But we started to let a little bit of fear creep into our minds. And this happened to be right about the same time where I had my first kid, Phoenix, who’s eight now. And it was a crazy time. We ended up trying to get bought by the highest bidder. And they were professional buying companies, large … ABC Holding Company. And they ran us over the coals, worked us til we were blind. It was working 100 hours plus a week, and I was trying to manage a company and trying to manage a transaction. The average buying process, diligence process, is six months in our industry. Kevin Bailey: So it was a really trying time, and I was also trying to make a relationship work with a girl who I had never gotten married to that I’d accidentally gotten pregnant, and I was kind of feeling out that experience, trying to make it work ’cause I had a kid there. For me, it was very challenging. As I’m trying to sell this company. And as I was letting this fear creep in about: What do we have here? What if we lost it? What if this is my only shot? What if the industry changes? A lot of changing going on in the digital marketing industry, constantly. And we got this mentality that maybe we weren’t the right people to bring us through the transaction. That maybe we should bring in some senior, senior talent to help us shape this company to be more operationally sound as we moved forward into a bigger future. Kevin Bailey: So I ended up stepping down as CEO into a president role, and we hired a CEO in. And we did this while we had this fear mindset going. So what type of a CEO did we hire? Did we hire one that was going to have a similar attitude as us, this abundant mindset, or did we hire somebody who would protect our capital, you know? Kevin Bailey: And we ended up … because we were in a fear mindset, hiring somebody who was a lot more … kind of like bringing in cognitive dissonance into the operation with a person who did not resonate with our culture. So that proceeded a downfall in revenue that lasted for years. Lost a lot of our sales team, just a lot of inner turmoil among leadership because we brought the wrong CEO in, because we wanted to bring someone in who could protect our company rather than grow it. And that ultimately led to the company significantly going down in value. Kevin Bailey: We ended up exiting for it at far, far less than what we had at that top period. And I know that a lot of what happened is that because I and the other two founders … ’cause our mindsets had shifted because we became fearful and less happy and had a lot of other turmoil in our personal lives and stuff. My other partner had a kid, in this case, with his wife. But lots of pressure there. We took our eye off the ball, and the acquisition process didn’t help at all on that. And once I’d lost complete passion for the business and stop and I look back at it, I was able to kind of see … when you are source for a business, when you are the founders, and you set the energy tone for the entire business and the culture, and when you guys shift, the culture shifts with you. Kevin Bailey: So I was able to kind of see that firsthand. And then talk to some of my friends who also run businesses about it, and see a lot of similar experiences. And when I meet entrepreneurs, I often ask them questions to try to figure out where their mind’s at, what is their mindset? And try to help them maybe cultivate a mindset that brings them a better business scenario for the company. Or maybe they have a belief that’s holding them back. I like to look for that stuff. But now I’m at Powderkeg, because I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs get through the gauntlet that I had to run through and maybe in a more productive way than I did. And help them, like you’re championing in this podcast, pay attention to the things that … to the stuff that nobody talks about. Kevin Bailey: We always talk about revenue. Talk about sales, we talk about marketing. We talk about product. But we’re not too often talking about, “Are you happy? Are you feeling fulfilled? Are you enjoying your entrepreneurial journey?” So that’s one of the things that I’ve brought to the Powderkeg with Matt, is just there’s mental, physical, and spiritual fitness that needs to be taken into account when you’re becoming an entrepreneur if you want to actually get through the marathon and not break down. Philip Devine: I’m Philip Devine. Stay with us. You’re listening to Home for Dinner. Philip Devine: What comes to mind when you hear these things? A custom, curated reading collection. Locally-brewed kombucha and small-batch, hard-to-find soda. No, this isn’t some hipster hotspot where guys in flannel shirts with sculpted beards and ladies with large hats hang out. Although that would be cool, too. This is Shelbyville Pharmacy, a local, independent pharmacy owned and operated in central Kentucky by Jason Underwood. And while you won’t find any pallet walls inside or Edison light bulbs suspended from the ceiling, Jason did play with the idea of suspending a kayak from the ceiling. But more on that later. Philip Devine: Anyway, we’ve all been in the chain pharmacies with harsh lighting, cold, metal, shelving, and an impenetrable wall between you and the pharmacy staff. It’s not the best experience for anyone. What you will find, though, is that everything is hand-picked in Shelbyville Pharmacy. And there are things that you don’t normally notice but were done on purpose. Things like warm LED lighting, a swinging half-door at the front counter so that he and the team can easily walk out and help you, wood-grain fixtures and earth-tone colors for a more natural feel, and professionally balanced speakers for the perfect blend of background music. Philip Devine: Now you can let your friends know that you got your prescriptions filled at a pharmacy that literally hand-picked everything in the store. From the types of light bulbs to the waiting seats, which you never use because your prescription is always ready, to the products on the shelves, and yes, even the medication you get. So special thanks again to Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy for sponsoring this season. Make sure you take a minute to stop by and say hello. Philip Devine: For more information on Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy, check out their website at www.shelbyvillepharmacy.com. Philip Devine: In a six- to twelve-month period, you guys were approached by three acquisition firms about buying your company, and you were going through that process. You hired a CEO who ended up not being a great fit, and two of you guys had babies on the way during this … Kevin Bailey: Yep. Philip Devine: I mean, when it rains, it pours. And it … yeah. I can’t imagine the pressure you were feeling, but … and you attribute a lot of that, or most of it, I guess, to the fact that your mindset shifted from one of abundance to one of fear and scarcity. Can you talk a little bit more about that? The mindset piece. And the reason why I want to dig into that a little bit is that I’ve heard that on other podcasts and Inc Magazine and stuff like that, you hear about the mindset, the mindset, the mindset, and I haven’t really heard it in the context that you’re talking about. And I haven’t really heard it in a way where all these things were happening. It was the mindset that changed or could have changed the trajectory of the outcome. So yeah, can you talk about that a little bit more? Kevin Bailey: You know, we all have our belief systems. My belief is that your thoughts and your beliefs kind of set the precedent for your actions. Your subconscious mind being something like 95% of your thoughts. Your subconscious mind starts to turn in a direction that’s not in alignment with where you’re trying to go consciously, it can throw a lot of roadblocks up. So I lost my confidence, my faith in myself, my belief in my own ability to run my company through the 100- to 200-person gauntlet, which can be challenging. Kevin Bailey: And … I was running up against the same obstacles that every entrepreneur runs up against when you’re at that stage. It is intimidating, but I’m a competent person. If I had had the right mentorship, if I knew that … obviously, hindsight is 20/20. If I knew what I know now, I would have stayed in that seat and I would have got it done. I would have taken care of myself. I would have taken the time. I would have learned how to meditate. I would have taken the time to take care of myself and nurture myself through that. But you don’t know what you don’t know. You know? Kevin Bailey: So but yeah. I mean, it was the going from a belief that I was capable of anything that I set my mind to, to coming into kind of transitioning into a belief that we were really lucky to have what we had. And feeling lucky is a really good mindset, but just to kind of feel like maybe we were not capable of bringing it to the next level. That lack of confidence manifests in lack of confidence across the whole team. ‘Cause if you are the leaders that everybody’s looking up to, and then you’re like, “Well, guys, we’ve done a great job here, but let’s bring in the adults to take this thing to the next level.” It’s a blow to everyone’s confidence, so that’s a very tangible example. But I know it all starts at some sort of sub-conscious belief system that starts to come into play, and your ability to work with your subconscious through those hurdles, I think, is either you’re going to be a success or a failure. Philip Devine: What are some things you’ve done now to make sure that you don’t repeat those things that you went through before? Kevin Bailey: While that acquisition process was in play, my relationship with Phoenix’s mother started to dissolve. We broke up. It was one of the scariest times of my life, and I knew that this transaction was probably gonna fall through, and I knew I didn’t have the … at that point, I was literally burnt out. So I didn’t have the gusto to come back in as CEO. Our CEO wasn’t working out, so it was a very dark period for me. Darkest of my life, for sure. And at that point, I didn’t have much faith, no spirituality to speak of, so I just kind of felt like I had basically lost the biggest opportunity of my life, or I was losing it, and there was nothing I could do about it. Kevin Bailey: So during that time period where I was a mess, I met Ashley. And she’s been kind of an angel for me to help me understand that, “Hey, your life’s not over. I’m here. I want to do this with you. We can still have a family. We can still accomplish your dream when it comes to a family.” And my dream of a family is that a family is additive to your life, obviously. If you have a hard day at work, you can come home to a family that helps you find peace. So I’ve always had that kind of a vision. It wasn’t like that with my previous relationship. So Ashley gave me some faith and belief in that. And helped me, I guess, kind of get my confidence back. Kevin Bailey: Did a lot of consulting in the interim, both working with other entrepreneurs as a coach, as well as doing some marketing and sales stuff. And built some really strong relationships in the community, some of the techniques and tactics that I have been talking about, about how we built Slingshot. And then the stuff I’m talking about right now, about mindset stuff. Helped a number of entrepreneurs in Indianapolis, helped their companies become more successful through getting a handle on their own mindset. Kevin Bailey: And then Matt and I have been friends for a long time. Matt actually worked at Slingshot during the run-up. And I looked at my passion for helping entrepreneurs, and it’s not my only passion. I have lots of passions, particularly in the environment. And I said, “And I can go out and do mindset coaching or something, or I can work with you, Matt, on Powderkeg, and we can help a lot of entrepreneurs. And maybe, just maybe, if we do this right, we can help entrepreneurs both be successful monetarily, but also be successful personally.” And well, in tech in particular, where you have Moore’s law and the singularity nearing, and tech moving so quickly upward, growing so fast. I realize that we also need to lift our humanity up and scale it just as quickly, or you create a delta between tech and consciousness. That’s too big of a gap, and you create a society that nobody likes. Kevin Bailey: So I’m at Powderkeg to kind of help scale that humanity. But yeah, Ashley has been a real ally in helping me figure out how to do Powderkeg now. I’ve been at Powderkeg for a little over a year, and I’m working just as hard as I did at Slingshot or harder, and now I have a family. At Slingshot, I didn’t. So I’m really having to keep an eye on that. Making sure that I make smart decisions that can help Powderkeg but also make sure that I can support my family. Kevin Bailey: One tough decision I had to make recently is the business needs an office downtown Indianapolis. I live in North Fishers. That’s like a 45-50 minute commute sometimes. And I’d talk to Matt and be like, “You know, I’m the leader of this company.” I’m in the “integrator” role, which is a little bit like a COO. Sometimes what a CMO had. “But I have to work remotely sometimes, because that commute’s gonna cut out an hour and a half of my day that I could be spending with my family.” Kevin Bailey: So keeping this top of mind, and not making every sacrifice on my family’s side for the business. I know is important for the marathon and important for the long run, even though it can cause some short-term pain in the business. I’d love to be in the office every day, but it’s just not gonna be possible. Philip Devine: That’s a really good perspective. I think there’s … you said something that resonated with me, and I think will resonate with the listeners, is that taking the long-term into account will cause some short-term pain. And being okay with that is part of it. What are some indicators that you’re off track at home? So for me, for example, it is almost too easy for me just to dive into work, especially if my wife and I had an argument this morning and I just go to work and I just plow through and I stay a little later. It’s easier to just go to work than to deal with whatever I need to resolve at home, especially if it’s me that caused the issue. Philip Devine: So what are some indicators that you’ve found in that scenario where you’re off-track? Kevin Bailey: I do do a lot of meditation. It’s one thing that I learned during that acquisition process. It’s been really helpful for me to reflect. I know you’re not supposed to think much during meditation, but ultimately, when I get into a certain state, I can consciously reflect on things. So I try to first of all, become very aware of how you feel, and becoming very aware of how your partner feels, and aware of how your kids feel, I think is kind of step one to being able to understand when things are slipping. Kevin Bailey: So I do keep an awareness of just how my whole family is treating me and how I’m treating them. But some of the first early indicators … I think it’s always interesting, it tends to start with my kids. My kids are a little bit more difficult with my wife, and they’re a little more distant toward me when I’m spending less time with them. So I can kind of … ’cause kids are like open vessels. They act exactly the way they feel, so you can tell when your relationship with your kids is starting to slip. Kevin Bailey: And normally if my relationship with my kids is starting to slip, my relationship with my wife is starting to slip. So I kind of watch that. Maybe canary in the coal mine being your kids. That’s maybe kind of a dark reference, but it’s like when your kids start acting a little odd with you, they’re probably the first indicator. Kevin Bailey: Just as far as my overall state of being, sleep is really an indicator. If I’m not sleeping well, clearly I need to do some things to kind of get my … some practices to kind of get myself back in a flow. Flow state is huge for being effective in business. Being effective as an entrepreneur. And so if I’m noticing that I’m having a hard time getting into a flow state, my anxiety’s high, my meditation’s not that great, those are indicators that I need to dive deeper into practices that will help me get grounded. Philip Devine: Talk a little bit more about the “flow state”. Explain that. Kevin Bailey: Okay. I mean, Tim Ferriss talks about it a fair amount, as well as a lot of other thought leaders. Flow state … proven it makes you close to four times more productive. Flow state is … I think … I don’t know if it’s an exact science, but it’s like a cocktail of every positive neurotransmitter that you can generate. Dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, et cetera. It’s kind of a cocktail of all the positive neurotransmitters running at the same time. Kevin Bailey: So if you have those neurotransmitters running, you are going to be more focused. You’re going to be happier. You’re going to be quicker, faster on your feet, et cetera. So it’s, I think, when you’re in flow state, your … [inaudible 00:24:45] called it parasympathetic system is active, which is basically your calm, your relaxed, your focused state. The opposite, I think it’s called, when your sympathetic nervous system is active, and that’s when you’re in fight or flight. Breathing from the top of your chest, and you’ve got so much on your mind, so many infinite loops going on in your head, you can’t stay focused. And because of that, your productivity drops significantly. Kevin Bailey: So you’re constantly trying to contrast those two states and stay in the one where you’re in flow. ‘Cause if you’re an entrepreneur, and you can be four times more productive, you want to be in that state as much as humanly possible. So we do some breathing exercises at Powderkeg in the morning to help the whole team get into group flow, and then kind of take it from there. Philip Devine: What advice do you have for listeners? For people who want to crush it at work and still make it home for dinner? Kevin Bailey: Just to keep in mind that the happiness of your home life is going to translate into more success in business, always, period. End of story. Like if you think that making a sacrifice at home is going to benefit your business, it may in the short term, but in the long term it’s gonna keep you down. So always be willing to make those short-term sacrifices, the business side for your family. And if your partners and your staff and/or your coworkers don’t understand or accept that, then you might want to find a different partner or a different job or a different company. You do this stuff to have a fulfilling and enriching life, not to be miserable. Philip Devine: Sounds almost counter to what Elon Musk and those guys say, but then again … Kevin Bailey: It’s not [inaudible 00:26:22]. It’s not preached. It’s definitely not preached by the Valley. At Powderkeg, we have a different perspective on things. We’re building high-growth, Midwest, outside-the-Valley tech startups in the heartland. We’re gonna build different kind of companies. Philip Devine: What resource, book, or conference do you recommend for listeners? And it can be for your relationship with your wife or for work. Kevin Bailey: There’s a really good book called Coherence by Dr. Alan Watkins. He also has a great TED talk. Coherence is about conscious leadership. So it’s about how to basically build a company that’s in flow state. He’s a scientist, so he goes into all the science and data around it. He consults with a lot of Fortune 500 executives on how to build teams that are in coherence, that are in flow state. So I think that’s a great book. Great book to read. Kevin Bailey: And also check his TED talk out. Alan Watkins. I think it’s called “How to Be Brilliant Every Day”. I think that’s probably the best resources to read about what we’re talking about. Philip Devine: How do you define success for your family? And how do you define success for your work? Kevin Bailey: Success for your family is a place where you can recharge. So if you build a good family, I think that it’s a place where no matter how hard you’re working … and granted, if you’re gonna maintain a good family life, you’re gonna work hard. You’re gonna spend more time with your family, you’re gonna have to be very productive in the time you spend working. So you will leave it on the field, to an extent. So I think that having a family where you come home and you instantly start to feel re-energized, it starts to become additive to your life … I think that’s the goal. And definitely, that’s not going to happen all the time. Kids can be crazy, you know? Relationships can be tough. But that’s kind of the goal. That’s my measure of success in my family. Is it something that gives me energy? Kevin Bailey: And then I would say it’s kind of the same with work. A true measure of success, though, I think it was like some quote from MLK, and if I can’t remember this I’ll butcher it, but he said, “Too often, we measure success by the size of our cars and material wealth. And it’s like, rather than how much did we impact humanity in a positive way? The quality of our relationships.” So overall success, I kind of hear what he’s saying. Monetary success is great. I’ve had it. I wouldn’t say that it’s the cure-all by any means. Success is about personal relationships and the joy you have on a day-to-day basis. Is what you’re doing bringing you joy? Are you in a joyful state? More than you’re in a struggle state. Granted, struggle’s really, really important, too. You have to struggle. It’s part of the universe, but success is highly related to impact. Philip Devine: If the listeners want to hear more from you or get in touch, what’s the best way for them to do that? Kevin Bailey: Yeah, they can email me at kevin@powderkeg.com. Philip Devine: Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen, and leave a rating and review so that we can get this important message out to entrepreneurs everywhere. I think Kevin said it best when he said, “Happy entrepreneurs build things that make the world better.” And happiness doesn’t start at the office. It starts at home. Philip Devine: Check out our website, www.homefordinnershow.com to get access to show notes, resources, and behind-the-scenes content only available to email subscribers. And reach out on Instagram. We’d love to hear about your successes and struggles in building a company without sacrificing your family. You can find us on Instagram at @homefordinnershow and email us at homefordinnershow@gmail.com. Home for Dinner is produced by Devine and Company. This episode was written with help from Rachel White and Anna Tran. The music you heard in the show came from HookSounds.com and [Matt S. Mueller 00:30:30]. And I’m your host, Philip Devine. See you next time on Home for Dinner. The post “We Shot For The Clouds And Ended Up Hitting Them”: A conversation with Kevin Bailey of Powderkeg appeared first on Home For Dinner.
Quiet confidence, that’s what comes to mind when I think of Mary; the kind of person who can inspire you to conquer the world with just a few words, or can tell you that your idea is legitimately terrible, and you walk away respecting her even more. She can command the room if she needs to, but she’s also satisfied to help others forge ahead by blowing wind into their sales. That’s Mary. She shares what it looks like to sacrifice when you and your spouse are both on fast-track career paths. Mary talks about the struggles and triumphs in her story, and how grit played a central role in keeping it all together. Be kind to yourself.Tweet This I met Mary at a startup business training course, called LaunchIt, here in Louisville, where she was serving as the director of the program. Throughout our time together, I regularly approached her about the tensions we talk about on this podcast; questions like, how smart is it to pursue a business opportunity when you’ve got a wife, four small kids, and a mortgage? How do you know when to shut down that venture and do something more traditional for a while? Episode Highlights [0:10] “How smart is it to pursue a business opportunity when you’ve got a wife, four small kids, and a mortgage?” Phillip’s question to Mary, Director of start-up business training course, LaunchIt [1:40] Bioengineering, Management Development, Computer Science, and two PhDs in Chemistry–Mary’s family on the path to success [3:48] What is LaunchIt? (and what it does to support start-up businesses) [5:13] How Mary and her husband reacted when success at work started to threaten success at home [8:18] Who quits their job to take care of the kids? What Mary would say to a married couple with high-power career tracks [13:03] What Mary says is the key to giving one-hundred percent both at home and work [15:55] Why Mary believes starting a business should be a family decision [19:05] Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. How 18 months became 10 years for Mary’s family in Boulder [20:55] How Mary’s husband’s big commute affected their family [23:33] Mary’s advice to anyone who wants to crush it at work and still be fully present with their family [24:46] The 3 books that Mary thinks all entrepreneurs should read [26:10] How Mary defines success for her family, her work, and herself personally [29:00] What questions has this podcast sparked in you? How you can get in contact with Mary Resources Book – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth Book – Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales From the World of Wallstreet, by John Brooks Book – The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business, by Clayton M. Christensen Conference  – SXSW Coach  & Author – Steve Blank Course – Nucleus LaunchIt! School – Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship Contact Mary – Mary.Tapolski@Louisville.edu   You need to get comfortable with the unknown.Tweet This   Special Thanks for Shelbyville Pharmacy for Sponsoring Season 1 of Home For Dinner.  Check out their website, or see what’s happening on Facebook! Read Full Transcript Philip Devine: Quiet confidence, that’s what comes to mind when I think of Mary; the kind of person who can inspire you to conquer the world with just a few words, or can tell you that your idea is legitimately terrible, and you walk away respecting her even more. She can command the room if she needs to, but she’s also satisfied to help others forge ahead by blowing wind into their sales. That’s Mary. She shares what it looks like to sacrifice when you and your spouse are both on fast-track career paths. Mary talks about the struggles and triumphs in her story, and how grit played a central role in keeping it all together. Philip Devine: I met Mary at a startup business training course, called LaunchIt, here in Louisville, where she was serving as the director of the program. Throughout our time together, I regularly approached her about the tensions we talk about on this podcast; questions like, how smart is it to pursue a business opportunity when you’ve got a wife, four small kids, and a mortgage? How do you know when to shut down that venture and do something more traditional for a while? So, that’s the question. Can you be a successful entrepreneur, and still have a healthy, growing family life? Philip Devine: Welcome to Home For Dinner, a series focused on exploring that very question. Maybe you can have it all, or maybe not. Philip Devine: Mary, can you tell us a little bit about your family and your background, how long you’ve been married, and that kind of thing? Mary Tapolsky: So, I’ve been married for almost 28 years. And my husband, Gilles, works in the startup area as well. I have three children. My oldest is almost 25, and she’s working on her master’s in bioengineering here at the University of Louisville. My second daughter is 23, almost, and she graduated from Vassar College, and is now working in her first paying job at M&T Bank in Buffalo, New York, and in the management development program there. And my youngest is Matthew, and he’s at Boston College, working on a computer science degree. Philip Devine: Those are, by most people’s definitions, either they are successful, or they’re on the path to success. What about you? You have a PhD in chemistry. Mary Tapolsky: Correct. So as you said, I have a PhD in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And then, I spent 10 years doing R and D, research and development, both in, six years in France, and then three years at a biotech startup in Houston, Texas. And then, I took a short break when my son was born. And after that, due to the startup environment and my husband moving from job to job, we ended up in Boulder, Colorado. Mary Tapolsky: And at that point, I decided to work part-time. So, very difficult to do research part-time. And so, I transitioned to work at the Tech Transfer Office at the University of Colorado in Boulder. And that involves reviewing all the innovations created by the researchers there, deciding if they should be patented, and then deciding if they’re commercializable, and trying to find an entity, whether it be a startup or an established company, to develop them. Mary Tapolsky: Fast-forward 10 years, my husband was recruited to Louisville. And I came as a trailing spouse and fell into the position at Nucleus, where I’ve worked with developing programs and support services to work with startups and early-stage companies. Philip Devine: Now, you and I connected at LaunchIt, which is put on by Nucleus, correct? Mary Tapolsky: Correct. Philip Devine: Can you tell us a little bit more about what Nucleus does, or what the purpose is behind it? Mary Tapolsky: So, my role at Nucleus was to develop programs and support services to help early-stage companies and startups. And one of the things we noticed when we first moved here is that there was not an entity that was offering companies, or people with ideas in early-stage companies, a way to validate their businesses and their potential for success. And so, the LaunchIt filled that role in the community. And basically, through this 10-week program, people will look at the different parts of their business model and try to validate them early on, so that, hopefully, at the end, they’ll have a validated business model and a higher chance of success, if they realize that their idea does actually have commercial potential. Philip Devine: Yeah. The LaunchIt course was a … Was it eight weeks? Mary Tapolsky: 10 weeks. Philip Devine: 10 weeks, power-packed, like 10 weeks. It was. I didn’t realize how much work it was until afterwards, after we finished it. And I said, “Oh, well, I mean-” Mary Tapolsky: “I have some free time now.” Philip Devine: But it was invaluable, and I recommend that for anyone who wants to consider entrepreneurship or validate their business idea. It’s great. So, both you and your husband are very accomplished, right? Mary Tapolsky: Well, thank you. Philip Devine: You guys both have PhDs in chemistry. Mary Tapolsky: Correct. Philip Devine: You have both raised kids who are now out of the house and on their way, on a great career path. How have you guys managed to balance success at home with success professionally? And share a story, if you can, where maybe you realized, or your husband realized, “Oh, we’re getting out of whack.” Mary Tapolsky: So, yeah. There was actually a very definite time when that happened. When we were in Houston, we bought a house outside Houston, in The Woodlands. And my husband, his job was there. And my job was down in the south side of Houston. So, I had the commute. And I commuted, you know, an hour each way to work, there and back, if traffic was good. And that left my husband to be the primary caregiver, if you will, for our children. You know, so he didn’t care for them during the day, but he dropped them off for preschool, and he picked them up, and he got the baths done and dinner started. Mary Tapolsky: Well, that was a little difficult for my husband with two little kids. And so, about the time when I was pregnant, and we were expecting our third child, I just realized that, you know, we were both very stressed about our jobs, and at that point, pretty early on in our careers. And we both wanted to do a great job, yet we were both dedicated to family as well. But I just realized that at this point, it wasn’t working for us as a family. By the time our kids went to bed, everybody was stressed out, and crying a lot of tears by the kids. And so, that’s when I actually quit my job and decided, okay, I’m going to take a short break with the birth of our third kid. And then, I’m going to try to find a job closer to home. And that way, it’d take a little bit of the stress off my husband, and it should be better for our family life. Mary Tapolsky: Well, it turns out that just about the time that I was ready to look for that new job in Houston, my husband’s company was acquired, so we were moving. So that kind of launched a two-year break, where I didn’t work professionally. And during that time, we relocated to Colorado. And when I went back to work, I made the decision to work part-time. So, I decided to work at 80%. And unfortunately, it’s still not very easy to do research when you’re working at 80%. And so, therefore, that’s when I looked at joining the Tech Transfer Office, University of Colorado Boulder, because they were hesitant to allow me to work 80%, but they were willing to give it a shot. Mary Tapolsky: And so, that’s what I did. For eight years, I worked there, and I worked at 80% of the time, and I did a great job. And I think, I’m very happy to say that after their experience with me working 80%, they were willing to consider letting other people work 80%; which, you know, beforehand, they really hadn’t been willing to consider. Philip Devine: Let me go back to your time in Houston. You know, what I heard when you were sharing that was that both of you guys had your, you guys were both on high-powered career tracks. And someone had to step off, at least temporarily. A, I think it’s admirable that you were able to do that. There’s obviously some sacrifice in that. How were you guys able to navigate who does that, and what the best solution was? Because what I’m thinking of is, you know, for my parents’ age, that would be the traditional thing, right? Okay, well, you know, the wife obviously needs to step down and stay home so that the husband can work. But nowadays, I don’t think that can be taken for granted. And so, I’m thinking about the couple that’s in a similar situation right now, that’s navigating that. What would you say to them? And how did you guys navigate that, personally? Mary Tapolsky: So, I don’t actually remember ever having that discussion with my husband. But I guess, just thinking back, it just made sense to me. I was more interested in spending … I mean, I don’t want to say more interested than my husband in spending time with our kids … But I guess I just felt happy with the decision that I would have the opportunity to spend more time with my children. Mary Tapolsky: You know, the two-year break, where I didn’t work outside the home, was a little odd for me, because I was always waiting to go back. So, I never really got comfortable in being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always kind of wondered whether I would have been good at it. Honestly, I think not. I think I would have gotten frustrated with that, so I needed to work. But I was very happy to have the opportunity to spend more time with my children when they were young than I had before I started working 80%. Mary Tapolsky: So, it just worked for us, for us as a couple. And it was really pretty amazing when I dropped down to working 80%. I mean, family life was just a lot better. In that day that I had off, I was able to get done a lot of chores, and grocery shopping, so that our weekends were actually fun, and relaxed, and time for family. And so for us, it all worked out. Philip Devine: Stay with us. You’re listening to Home For Dinner. Philip Devine: Hey, everyone. A quick thanks to our sponsor, Jason Underwood, and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy. I remember the first time I asked a buddy to try kombucha. It was a green algae flavor with lots of healthy things floating around in it. The flavor was sweet, with light carbonation, and did a good job quenching your thirst; at least, that’s what I thought. My buddy said it tasted like hay, like the stuff cows eat in the winter. Philip Devine: Well, we can’t all have refined palate, which is why I was ecstatic when, about a year ago, Jason Underwood, the pharmacist and owner of Shelbyville Pharmacy, told me he was going to be bringing in some local kombucha to sell at the pharmacy. Not only that, but he found hard-to-find and unusual sodas, mainly root beers, to sell as well. We’re talking real cane sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup, made-in-Kentucky sodas; sodas like WBC Root Beer, Fitz’s Root Beer, Caruso’s Legacy Root Beer, Cheerwine cola, Frostie Root Beer, Virgil’s Root Beer, Boylan Soda, and Ale-8 Soda; and Jason’s personal favorite, Saranac Root Beer. And in the words of Jason himself, he says that it’s pure enjoyment. Philip Devine: Now, there’s still a question we need to answer, though, especially if you’re not a fan of kombucha; and that’s, “Why kombucha?” Well initially, Jason got into kombucha from a health standpoint, things like probiotics and stuff, but quickly found out that this is something you can enjoy as well. So whatever your flavor, whatever your brew, it’s been hand picked, tasted, and approved; not just by me, because I like trying new things, but by Jason Underwood, because he stands behind everything in the pharmacy. Philip Devine: So, special thanks, again, to Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy for sponsoring this season. Make sure you take a minute to stop by and say hello. For more information on Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy, check out their website at www.shelbyvillepharmacy.com. Philip Devine: You guys have always been involved in the startup world in your careers. And I’m curious, you know, we always hear about working 100 hours a week to get it done, at the expense of everything else. There had to have been some tension for your husband, maybe, as the company got acquired in Houston, or as he was working in Boulder, Colorado; some tension between, “Got to work hard, got to hustle and get this off the ground,” and same for you, with some, [inaudible 00:13:51] advisory board, or with any one of these LaunchIt groups, me included. How do you balance giving 110% to the project or the company, with your family? Or maybe I should say it the other way. How do you give 110% to your family with these projects here? I don’t know the best way to ask that. Mary Tapolsky: Be very well organized and focused. I mean, honestly, from my perspective … I think for my husband’s, I would give you a different answer … But for myself, it is just being hyper-focused and hyper-effective. And I have tried to become a very efficient person, so that I can do in six hours what might take a lot of people eight hours, if you’re very focused, and just work, work, you know, be task-oriented and get your task done. Mary Tapolsky: I’m actually a big proponent of lists. I do a lot of lists. I mark things off. It makes me very happy to mark things off a list. You know, I guess I would just, for one story, when I worked at the University of Colorado, one thing that my boss used to say about me that always gave me some pleasure was, he would brag that he paid me for 80%, but he got 100% of work out of me. Philip Devine: That’s efficiency. Mary Tapolsky: And so from my perspective, because I had a reduced schedule, I was hyper-focused on getting my work done. And so again, I’d just say, be hyper-focused. And you know, same thing here in Louisville. I would, a lot of times, I mean, I rarely didn’t make it home for dinner with my kids when they were at home. Now, it’s a little different. They’re all out of the house. And so, I’m a lot more flexible with respect to evenings out and evening events. When they were home, I did fewer of them. And again, I just tried to stay hyper-focused, and just very detail-oriented, and get my work done. Philip Devine: What are some things that you’ve seen with the LaunchIt classes, right? Some concepts fizzle out, some continue as lifestyle businesses; some go on, and get funding, and rock and roll. What have you seen in the trends with the class that you’ve seen come through, as far as the level of commitment, or how hard they work; and maybe you haven’t necessarily looked at it like this, if they have significant others at home, and/or children at home? Mary Tapolsky: You know, that’s an interesting question. At first, I’d like to make one comment, as I think people that come through and realize that their business is probably not a sustainable opportunity, we count that as a win, because they’re not spending a lot of time, and effort, and energy, or money, working towards something that doesn’t have a high chance of being successful. So, I’d just like to point that out. I would count that as a win. Mary Tapolsky: You know, I do think that this is something that, after the first few sessions, we try to make a point of talking about in LaunchIt; that the life of an entrepreneur is not always easy, especially if you have somebody that starts off doing that as a second job. So, you have your day job all day, and then you start doing this at night. That’s really an incredibly hard place to be. So, I think it becomes almost easier if you make the choice or the decision to jump. And you quit your day job, and you focus all your time and energy on your startup. But that does require, I think, a family decision, because a lot of times, that means you lose a solid paycheck, a routine paycheck. You may lose benefits. You may lose your 401K. So, I think that that certainly needs to be a family decision. Mary Tapolsky: You know, like I said, my husband and I have both been involved in startups, but there was only really one period of time where both of us were working at jobs where the paychecks, where you were only assured of having your job for, you know, 3 months, 6 months, 18 months. And so when I switched over to doing tech transferring now, here at Nucleus, the Nucleus was a startup. There always seemed to be a little bit more sustainability, and you were more assured of a paycheck. But I think that that’s definitely a conversation people need to have. You know, for us, I realized very early on. My husband actually worked for a large chemical company in France for the first 11 months of his work career; hated it, just because he didn’t find it exciting. It was boring. And he’s like, “I cannot even envision a lifetime of working in a company like this.” Mary Tapolsky: So, you know, it was very early on. It’s like, “Okay. This is what he’s going to do.” And I think it’s just really kind of a mindset. You just need to get comfortable with the unknown. And we ended up getting fairly comfortable with the unknown. Philip Devine: I love … There’s a, as I was getting set up here, you and I were talking. And you shared a story when you guys were in Boulder about, what ended up being a 10-year period started out with, what, 18 months? Mary Tapolsky: 18 months, yeah. Philip Devine: Can you share kind of how that happened? Mary Tapolsky: So if you’re familiar with startup funding, a lot of times, startup companies will have funding for up to 18 months. So, and we bought a fixer-upper. And we thought, “Okay. You know, we’re going to wait a few years, make sure the company’s, that we know it’s going to have funding before we invest a lot of money and renovate our house.” Well, with funding only available for 18 months, and then it would go down to 12 months, sometimes at 9 months; and, oh, back up to 24 months; oh, down to 18, we never got to the point of feeling comfortable for quite a while. Mary Tapolsky: And then after about seven years, it’s like, “Okay. I’m done. This is enough. This is our second startup in Boulder. We’re going to renovate.” And so, we spent a lot of time, and effort, and money, renovating our house, and then we moved. Philip Devine: And then you moved. Mary Tapolsky: And then we moved. Philip Devine: So, yeah. So, 18 months turned into 10 years in Boulder. But the recurring theme during that time was uncertainty, which is interesting. And so what you just shared a second ago, and what you shared with me as I was setting up was, become comfortable with uncertainty; become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Mary Tapolsky: Correct. And you know, I’d say we’ve been pretty lucky. My husband is now on his sixth early-stage or startup company. And he’s been pretty lucky in between those. So when one opportunity closed, the next opportunity came around pretty quickly. So I do think, from that perspective, we’ve been very lucky. Philip Devine: When you guys were in Houston, in the story you shared about both you guys working, you were commuting an hour and a half when traffic was good, and you realized, I guess both you guys realized this isn’t going to work, because all the work is on one person. What are some indicators along the way, and maybe through other points in your relationship, that you’ve noticed you’re off track? And once you’ve noticed those, what are some things you’ve done to get back on track? Mary Tapolsky: I think that was probably, as a family, that was the only time where it’s been a major issue for us. And I mean, not that our marriage is perfect, and we don’t have the perfect family, but you know, I have to admit, I don’t think, honestly, we’ve ever really had a situation that’s thrown us off track; even when my husband, when the second company, the second startup in Boulder ran out of money, and he was looking for the next opportunity, and that next opportunity was in Louisville, Kentucky. Mary Tapolsky: Funny story there, he called me up, and he goes, “What do you think about Louisville?” And I’m like, “Louisville? That’s great,” because right outside Boulder, the next city over is Louisville, Colorado. And I’m like, “Great. It’s just down the street. I can keep my job.” “No, Louisville, Kentucky.” And I’m like, “Okay. We’ve got a lot to learn here.” Mary Tapolsky: So, we … You know, I mean, at that point, I think you always need to look for the good and the positives. Yes, it was hard to pull our kids out of school at that point, but I’m a firm believer that kids are very malleable. They’re very flexible. And it was just, this is what we have to do. This is what we’re doing as a family. My husband actually commuted for a year, nine months, which was incredibly tough for him. So, the kids finished out fifth grade, eighth grade, and then sophomore year in high school, in Boulder. And it also gave us the opportunity to find schools, and figure out where they were going to go, to find a house, et cetera. But you know, that was pretty hard. He had to drive two hours to Indy, to take a flight to Denver, to take a bus to Boulder. Mary Tapolsky: And then the kids are like, “Okay, Dad. Nice to see you, but we’ve got things to do.” So you know, it was just rather stressful. At one point, my son said, “Well, you know, this is working for me. Why doesn’t Papa just continue to commute?” But it was very hard on my husband. And so, you know, I mean, I think it was a no-brainer. We’ll relocate, and we’ll find new things to do. And we traded the ski slopes in for water skiing and the beautiful lakes here in the area, and we’re a lot closer to my family. So, I think you always look for the positives. Philip Devine: What advice do you have for the listeners, the people who want to crush it at work and make it home for dinner? And make it home for dinner, of course, is an analogy just for being present with your family, right, because dinner’s relative. So, what advice do you have for them? Or what would you say to them? Mary Tapolsky: I’d say, again, I think one of the most important things is just to be focused, and to have a clearcut idea, every morning, of what you want to get accomplished during the day. But be gentle with yourself if you don’t get everything accomplished. You know, just say, “Okay. I didn’t quite make it today, didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done. But tomorrow’s another day.” And then, you just work extra hard tomorrow to make that happen. You know, a lot of times, before I get to work, as I’m in the shower in the morning, I’m going through what am I going to get done today, what do I need to accomplish; if I get everything I need to get done, what I’d like to get done; and again, back to my list making. Mary Tapolsky: But I think it’s, be gentle with yourselves. Be kind. If you don’t get everything done, tomorrow’s another day. And just, you know, keep plugging along. But it also needs to be a priority. And I will say, you will not regret the time that you take to go home and spend the evenings with your kids. And if you need to work when they’re in bed, you work when they’re in bed. Philip Devine: What resource, book, or conferences do you recommend for our listeners? Mary Tapolsky: Well, three books that I might recommend, the first one is by Angela Duckworth, and it’s Grit, because I think I have a lot of grit, and I think that would be, maybe, one of the characteristics of myself that I think would be responsible for the success I have had. I don’t know that I’m incredibly talented, but I do think I have a lot of grit. And I think that that’s maybe an under-credited talent to have, is to have that determination. Mary Tapolsky: Another one would be Business Adventures, by John Brooks. And this talks about the strength and weaknesses of leaders as they deal with challenging circumstances. So, I just thought it was quite interesting. And then another one, The Innovator’s Dilemma, which I think is always another book to read that would be interesting as well. In terms of conferences, I did go to South by Southwest for startup companies, which was a lot of fun. I would recommend going to get trained by Steve Blank. If you are working with entrepreneurs, learn how to do the Lean LaunchPad training. It’s great. And if you are an entrepreneur, come through LaunchIt. Philip Devine: Yes. How do you define success for yourself, as far as work is concerned? And how do you define success for your family, or at least, success for you at home, for what you do? You know, how you define success. Mary Tapolsky: Okay. So, I’ll take the second half of that question first. I think, to success at home with my kids, A, was to get them to a place where they are on their own, and they leave. They graduated from high school with enough possibilities that they can follow their dreams. And I felt that that was my role as a parent, is to help them get through high school with sufficiently good grades, to go to whatever college they wanted to go to; wasn’t really concerned about where they went, as long as it was where they wanted to go, and they would be able to pursue the career they were interested in. Mary Tapolsky: So, I think all three of them achieved that. And I think the other thing that I appreciate now, in retrospect, is that my kids will say that they thought we did a pretty good job, which I guess is about all the credit we’re going to get at this point. The farther they get away from us, the more they appreciate us. And so, you know, I think for that, I’m happy. I think we did a pretty good job, my husband and I. Mary Tapolsky: With respect to work, with respect to the work environment, I’d say what brings me a lot of pleasure now, for the position that I have in Louisville, is to see other companies that are reaching milestones, achieving milestones, and becoming successful. And while I can’t take credit for all their success, you know, if they’ve come through LaunchIt, or used one of our other resources, or if I was able to make a connection, an introduction to them that ended up being an inflection point for them, that makes me very happy; whether they remember it or not doesn’t really matter. It’s just gratifying to me that, in the entrepreneurial community here in Louisville, we are seeing successes. We are seeing people achieve milestones. We’re seeing successful exits. And I think we need to celebrate the small successes; any success, small, medium, large, we should celebrate them all. And I think maybe that’s one thing that I like to do, that I think perhaps makes me happier with myself. Mary Tapolsky: And the part to being kind to yourself is to say, “Oh, I was able to help with that. That was a good day.” And so, yeah. I think that the more successful the community becomes, the better I feel about the role that I’ve played in helping to support that. Philip Devine: Yeah. It’s almost, it’s kind of like practicing gratitude, or being thankful for things outside of yourself, and knowing that you had a piece to play in that. Mary Tapolsky: Yeah. Philip Devine: If someone wants to get in touch with you about entrepreneurship, about family and entrepreneurship, about LaunchIt, about anything they’ve heard on this episode, what’s the best way for them to reach you? Mary Tapolsky: So, my current position is at University of Louisville, in the College of Business, the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship. And all the programs that were developed and grown at Nucleus, including RevIt: Accelerating Customer Growth, Open Office Hours, Startup Seminar Series, and obviously, LaunchIt, are now going to be offered by the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship; so that’s the easiest way to reach me; Mary.Tapolski at Louisville.edu. Philip Devine: Hey, guys. Thanks for listening to Mary share her story. Please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen, so that you don’t miss a show. And leave us a rating and review, so that other people like you can discover the stories of entrepreneurs who make it home for dinner. Philip Devine: We’d also love to hear your questions, struggles, and wins about entrepreneurship and family life. You can reach us on Instagram, at HomeForDinnerShow, or email us at HomeForDinner at Gmail.com. Philip Devine: Home For Dinner is produced by Devine and Company. This episode was written with help from Rachel White and Anna Tran. [Justin Medley 00:30:26] edited the sound. The music you heard at the top of the show was the track, “Day of Dream” by Dreamwave, from HookSounds.com. The theme song was produced by [Mattis Muelller 00:30:36]. Special thanks to Doctor Jason Underwood and the team at Shelbyville Pharmacy for sponsoring this season. Philip Devine: And I’m your host, Philip Devine. See you next time on Home For Dinner. The post “We Got Comfortable With The Unknown”: A conversation with Mary Tapolski of the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship appeared first on Home For Dinner.
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Creator Details

Birthdate
Jul 5th, 1987
Location
Kentucky, USA
Episode Count
153
Podcast Count
5
Total Airtime
1 day, 18 hours