My Better Half on Entrepreneurship

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Erin thought it might be fun for me to write a blog about entrepreneurship, seeing as I am now a full-fledged entrepreneur. It is kind of a broad topic of course…like being asked to write a blog about business. But since I am a new entrepreneur, I guess I can talk about how that feels.

A little background first. For the past two years I have been helping a company re-start, pivot, re-launch, etc. As I think Erin mentioned before, it is a shopping platform that we brand for non-profits so they can raise money or offer cash back shopping as a benefit for their members (there are other applications like loyalty programs for banks, but that is the easiest to understand). I am now the full time CEO. Only we don’t have the money to pay me just yet, so I have also started a loyalty consulting business and that is what is paying the bills. So two full time, start-up businesses that demand a lot of my time. Want to know what that feels like?

It feels like I need to raise my game. A lot.

The Tour.

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Chicago readers with champagne and books at Jayson Home!

First of all I have to say, I love my husband…but last night I almost murdered him.

Over the weekend I upgraded to the iPhone 6 since my 5’s battery would last about an hour before it would die. Andrew insisted he backed up my phone (and all it’s photos) on my computer before we brought it in to sell- and have the hard drive wiped. I believed him. (Cue foreboding Jaws music…)

Cut to me opening my laptop to blog about our Chicago trip and come to find out- the backup did not work and he had not checked to make sure. All my photos are GONE. GONE! I managed to not have a cerebral hemorrhage right then and there, but the anger is stewing.  Yet another example of why my micro-managing of life is for a good reason (ahem!!!)

Blog Favorites: Andrew’s First Post

So I’m doing something this week that I have not done in all the years I’ve owned my business and written this blog- I’m taking the week off. Really off. Like closing the office “off”. My assistant is on her honeymoon and the world seems to be busy finishing up summer and getting ready for fall and the new school year and so it’s the perfect time to take five days to myself to just relax before a crazy busy fall for me too. And so this week I’ll be posting some of my favorite posts from over the seven years (!!!) I’ve been blogging. There’s a lot to sort through, but I do have some real personal favorites. To start off, this was a post from September 2011- the first from Andrew. I re-read it last night and just really loved it. He’s such a gem.

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Andrew and our niece Kate in 2011

Erin asked me if I would write a blog post that was similar to one of my Tony Robbins-ish “things are going to fine, stop crying, you need to think more of yourself, it’s going to be ok, seriously, stop crying” speeches I unleash on her about once a month.

Finally I get to be on her blog. Sweet.

My most recent rant to her was about perspective. Side note: these “speeches” are usually just a verbal outpouring of the internal struggles (and solutions) I have with myself. I get just as much out of saying them as she gets from hearing them…probably more. To provide a little background, I was laid-off about 2 months ago. Not the greatest feeling in the world, but I was prepared for it…the writing was on the wall…and to be honest I wasn’t that far away from putting in my notice.

The internal struggle I had was what to do next. I had been working with some former colleagues on a start-up which I was really excited about. I was also putting a toe in the water in several other, apparently more stable options. At the end of the day I was fortunate enough to have a choice. I went with the start-up. Here is why:

10, 20, 30, years from now…or more…I am going to reflect on my life. I tried to put myself at that point and ask what will I think. I was going to regret not going with the start-up. It was clear. Granted, that didn’t make the choice any less scary, but I knew what I needed to do.

I continued to think about the “Future Me” and what I would think of the present me. And Future Me had a bit of advice. He said that we are living in a home, eating applesauce, wearing diapers and all I have are my memories. Don’t screw them up. Spend time with your friends and family, because those are my favorite memories. Stop spending so much time on the little stuff, you can barely remember that anyway. Travel more, you will love Africa. Take a few chances, but not too many that you look like a moron (and you are approaching that level so be careful). Enjoy your successes and indulgences, you will see that guilt is a waste of time. Do things for others without the need for acknowledgment or reciprocation (you will get both in spades anyway). Be happy for others who are more fortunate than you, help those that aren’t, respect both equally. Do things you normally wouldn’t do every so often, those are some fun memories. It is okay to cook and do the dishes, but make sure you say thank you when someone does for you. When you get here (the future) you don’t want to have settled.

Smart guy. I hear he is handsome too.

We could all benefit from calling our Future Me’s every once in a while. We need that reality check of how most of this won’t matter even a few months from now, much less years. We need to live a little more for the moment.

That doesn’t mean go crazy. It doesn’t mean bounce your last check (ahem! parents and in-laws). It doesn’t mean shun stability and responsibility. It doesn’t mean pack up your shit and move to Nepal. It means to do things you will be happy to look back on. That may mean taking the stable job for some, or going with the start-up for others or even leaving it all behind and going to Nepal for a few. Life isn’t black and white. There is no need for you to be stable or reckless…you can be somewhere in-between. You don’t have to married by 28. You don’t need to have kids before you are 35. You don’t need to have your career all set by the time you are 40. Life is different for everyone and very few of us live up to the expectations we set for ourselves or other set for us (and those that do probably feel unfilled in some way). Take life as it comes, change it as you go, and stop worrying about where you are now…just enjoy that you are here and moving forward. It takes some people a few years, others a life time. We all get there.

You are a fluid and ever-changing person who is at times scared, happy, sad, bored, worried and excited. Perfect…that’s how you are supposed to be. Think about the future, think about what you want to look back on, and then stop thinking about the future so much. Re-live the good times in the past. Learn from the bad ones and move on…they are not you anymore. Forget the really bad ones. They serve no purpose anymore. Realize that life is both what you make of it, but more importantly how you want to approach it. You can get bogged down with your own shit or you cannot. The choice is yours.

My Better Half On Optimism

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So today is my 35th birthday and as I’ve mentioned earlier I’m having a little bit of trouble with it.  A lot of that trouble has to do with my generally pessimistic attitude (what I like to think of as “realistic”.) Andrew, on the other hand, is like a bouncing ball of positivity, and to be honest, has had more tricky, tough stuff happen to him than me. Yet he remains able to never let life get him  while I tend to take on a more “Eeyore” cast. It’s amazing, and one of the things I love (and relay on) most about him. So I asked him to write a little about how he stays so positive about life and here’s what he had to say:

Erin asked me to write a blog on how I maintain my seemingly unending positivity. It’s funny, because even the way she asked me that had the “and by positive I mean naïve” undertone. Ok, I get it. Maybe sometimes. I obviously can’t speak for all us positive people, but I will offer some insight into my mindset.

First off, it really is a mindset. I get in bad moods, feel sad, feel anxious, have the “what if <insert worst case scenario>” thoughts too. But at some point I just decided that I hated feeling that way. And since it doesn’t do me any good, I do whatever it takes to not feel that way. PLEASE NOTE: That does not mean I ignore those feelings. It doesn’t mean, that I don’t understand and contemplate the underlying causes. It means that I don’t let them linger. There are always at least two ways to approach anything…and I just choose to look at the bright side. It is more fun that way. Of course that is easier said than done. But no one ever said being positive was easy. I would argue it is a lot harder than being a pessimist.

From His Perspective: Arguing & Understanding

I know today is all about politics, but I for one am not into using social media to scream about my beliefs.  It’s been very interesting to see some serious vitriol and name calling on Facebook and Twitter this election season between friends of opposing party affiliations. Never mind all the ridiculous ads we are barraged with when trying to watch TV!  I happen to believe one thing above all- no one person can solve all our problems.  It will take partnerships and collaboration to get America back on it’s feet just as it takes the same type of work in ALL relationships.  Andrew and I have been discussing this a lot at home and he wrote a great piece about arguing and working together that I thought would be the perfect thing to post today, regardless of the outcome- without further ado, my better half:

They say you should never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes (or something close to that). I have recently come to realize how powerful and loaded that statement really is.

While there are several directions I could go from here I would like to use this as a base to discuss communication. A overburdened topic in and of itself, the nearing of the election, the debates, etc. have caused me to stop and think about how people interact. Whether its family, friends, colleagues, or politicians, we could all do better by walking a mile in the others shoes.

9 times out of 10, a disagreement that leads to an argument isn’t resolved at the end of the discussion. In fact it’s probably closer to 9.99999 times out of 10. If you have ever been on the outside looking in it’s rare that one side is so wrong and the other is so right. There’s usually a bit of gray. Parts where one has a good point, parts where the other does, and many where there is no clear right or wrong.

What is missing, at least in order to move the discussion along, is understanding. You have to stop, see the other person’s side of things (no matter how wrong they obviously are), and actually understand their point of view. In fact, try and argue for their side. It is rare that they don’t have a point, and while you may not agree with it, it is their right to think that way. You have to accept that…try and change them and it falls apart.

This is clearly at the heart of the failings of congress. Republicans, democrats, and independents can all agree on one thing…the country can’t move forward with all sides digging in their heels and being unwillingly to work together and compromise. The same can be true in our own personal lives. Erin and I are evolving in the way we argue. We are much better at hearing and listening. We don’t always agree, but we understand. It makes for a much happier household.

How did we do it? It was all me (honestly, not patting my own back, but its true). I stopped and decided to listen. To understand. And then the strangest thing happened…so did she. It only takes one side to try for this to work. So the next time you are arguing and not going anywhere, whether it is in work, family or politics, try to be the one who changes the nature of the conversation. Be the one who understands the other side. It’s the only way you’ll get your point across.

I would like to remind Andrew to consider this “other side” when arguing about the number of pillows we have on the bed and the necessity of lucite furniture, which is NOT Miami Vice. Thank you.