In a relationship or a marriage where the woman is a career woman and the man has a job or a business and they have kids, everything that you’re doing should be for the better of the family and of each other. And if you’re both extremely successful, there may come a time where you will have to decide what is best for your family. You’re going to have to make that decision as a family.
The most important part is communication and making sure that your kids know that mom and dad love them and will spend every opportunity to be with them. It’s very important that you as parents realize you are so important in what you say going to those kids. You are a programmer. How you program your children is how they will be for the rest of their life and it starts with us.
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You Are A Programmer
I’m with my global business-owning wife, Kerri Courtright. She is a machine. She was the only person at Digital Footprint that got a standing ovation and it was not because she puts on the conference, it is because her talk was freaking awesome. I thought, “What better way to start a podcast than to pepper my wife with questions?” We’re going to jump right in. Kerri, what advice would you give women that have a business and their husband goes to work and has a job?
I’ve been blessed. We’ve worked together forever. That’s a difficult question that’s difficult to answer, but here’s what I can tell you when people come up to me and ask me and we converse about. The biggest thing is making sure that you’re both on the same page. It’s very difficult when two people go in opposite directions to begin with. Your husband’s going one way, the wife is going another way. However, the biggest thing is if two people are supporting each other and they come together and communicate because the business, no matter what, will be benefiting both people. Just as the job benefits both people, whether it’s health insurance, it’s definitely the income, but the business also is benefiting the family.
Many years ago, my mom did Mary Kay and my dad had a full-time job. What they did is they always communicated about both. They knew each other’s schedule and they worked together as parents. When my mom had a conference because Mary Kay was multilevel and a fantastic company, my dad would always go to the conferences with my mom, so he would take off work and use his vacation days to make sure my mom knew that he supported her in every way. My mom had to be out at night because often her stuff was at night. My father was there and making sure that the household was as it should be as if my mom was there, so nothing skipped a beat.
When their schedules were opposite, my mom always made sure there was help. She had help with the house and she had help with the kids, my younger brothers and sisters. That’s a big deal. The biggest thing is you learn from both. Business itself teaches structure. Those tools could be used in your private business when the wife has her own business and they can definitely work together. The biggest thing is having that mutual respect and knowing that both people are working for the same goal. We’re not working against each other. They’re both working for the same goal and that’s for the best of the relationship and of the household.
What advice do you give to a woman who has a job? She’s a career woman and the husband has a business that is growing like a weed and they have three to five kids. What do you say to that woman?
Same thing. Everything that you’re doing should be for the better of the family and of each other. Relationships, in general, should always know that. My father did something on his own and he was doing fantastic. If they’re both extremely successful, if you’re an extremely successful career woman or an extremely successful business owner, there may come a time where you will have to decide what is the best for your family. It might be both. It might bring you going down to one, but you’re going to have to make that decision as a family. The most important part is communication. Never use your kids as a pawn. Your kids are going to be fine. As long as they know that mom and dad loved them and mom and dad spent every opportunity to be with them, they don’t miss the most important things, like graduation.
I’m not talking about a Halloween party. If you miss that, it happens. If you miss a birthday, that happens, but don’t forget to celebrate with your kids. As long as they know that both parents are working together and both parents love them, your kids will be fine. Don’t use them as a tool. If you both are getting very large, you want to still make sure you can maintain that relationship. That’s the key because that is your partner. Your kids will grow up and get old and the people that are left are the two of you. You want to make sure you still have that common thread for the rest of your life.
There are women out there who are in business with her husband. I want you to speak to all the people now, and even 25 to 55 years from now, how do you recommend they approach business decisions because they’re in business together, children, and their own personal relationship? Take them one at a time, business decisions.Big business decisions should be made together. Click To Tweet
The big business decisions should be made together. Are you buying a new building? Are you going into a new division? Those are together. I strongly suggest that you separate departments just as you would in your company. You don’t expect the design team or the sales team to necessarily have 100% influence over what the marketing team does. They’re different divisions. It’s great to get their input on a new product. If something of that nature launches, you want everyone’s input to make the correct new product. On a day-to-day basis, you need your divisions to be separate, so they have the autonomy to make decisions.
Ken and I have different roles in our company that allows us to be productive and not have to spend so much time going, “What do you think?” I trust him without a doubt. When he decides, he’s making the right decision for us and for our company. He’s the same thing with me. He trusts me 100%. You need to be able to talk together about the big things but also have the autonomy to make your own decisions and always know that those decisions are for the best. If someone fails, that’s okay because we’re all going to do that. When you make a bad decision, recoup and just move on. Change focus and correct the situation and then you won’t make that mistake again.
Now, they’re working together. We have four kids. We travel twenty times a year at least. They have their own lives, they have their own school, and they have their own friends. Talk a little about that and why we made that decision?
When it comes to child rearing, Ken and I are on the same page. We are 100% on the same page with what we think we want for our children. We talked and decided, which is why this is Ken at Today’s Growth Podcast, not Kerri’s, I do more with the family. That gives me the flexibility to be in and out. It’s one of my rules. That’s how we worked it out. We figured out what our roles are. That way, it’s easier to live your daily life. Ken is a fantastic father to these children. I can’t even explain. Our oldest daughter’s in China. She sends me one email and sends daddy another and they’re on different topics. They all see us differently and they see our strengths. Kids are bright. They know what your strengths are.
We had an event for Digital Footprint. We made sure we were home for Halloween. That’s how we roll. Whenever we are 100% in control of our schedule, we made sure that we are home for what we need so they know that they support the company. They support us because they know we make that same intense effort to be here for them. In January, we are going to two separate vacations and it’s not because we don’t like each other. Ken is taking our oldest daughter, Casey, who is in Shanghai for college, and our young son, who’s ten, on a cruise with friends of ours, which was preplanned. Then the high school said, “We’re going to our European trip.” These happened to go over the same dates. What we decided was I would go with the two middle girls to Europe and spend a week with them.
The key on this is I didn’t ditch my family. Our two middle daughters, I had gone with one daughter before when she went overseas and everyone enjoyed mom so much that this year, their friends and the teacher and our daughters both urged mommy to be on this trip with them, which most kids couldn’t wait until I get away from them. Our daughters are upset when we first said no because we had the first event planned, so we’re going separate, but that’s because our kids want to spend time with us. They don’t want us to cancel something. They don’t want to just go on their own. They enjoy our company because they know that although we run this amazing company, we are all-in for them.
When our kids were younger, nine and under, we went out of town to conferences and even local overnights and left them with babysitters a lot. Correct?
Do you think our children are close to us?
Our kids are so close to us.
All four of our kids, we are tight as a family. Unfortunately for me, I have three girls and these girls like to tell us everything. As a father, when your daughter runs into the kitchen jumping and floating, she’s levitating because she just got her first kiss in the backyard and wants to tell you every little detail because you’re close to your kids. As a dad, I just put my arms up in the air. I walked into my bedroom and said, “TMI. I’m going to go watch something that is not my daughter.” I was super excited for her but we are close.
I’m here to tell you if you can sacrifice time away from your kids when they’re nine and under and build something significant, they will not remember because the time away will cause a vacuum effect so that when you are with them during the times you’re not away, you’re going to focus on them so much more. In later years, after you’ve built that foundation and the cash flow is coming in, then you can be tight. One of the reasons you can be tight is you can take them with you everywhere. Our kids have seen Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Shanghai. We can take them with us everywhere and show them how the world really is, not what they read in books and newspapers. I wanted to stick that one in there quick. When it comes to husbands and wives in business together, what are some of the critical nuggets that they have to pay attention to that has nothing to do with business?
Your spouse is not your employee. We try not to bark at our employees ever. There are times where we get a little stressed like you need something right now, “This is the second time I’ve asked for it,” and you might do that with your spouse. I was talking to the team and I needed something. Ken’s trying to talk to me and I’m like, “What? This is not the time. Do you understand?” He gave me a puppy dog look and I said, “I’m sorry.” Barking orders. He’s my husband first and my business partner, not my employee. You have to watch your tonality. What to know about business when you’re working together?Put your spouse first because when everything is said and done and the kids grow up, you still have your spouse right there next to you. Click To Tweet
You run a business over here, but you have a life over here.
There are a lot of people who live and put everything else first, whether it’s the children or their job or their business. You have to put your spouse first. There are always ups and downs in business your spouse will be your best friend and that is your perfect ally. If you put everything else in front of your spouse because you take them for granted, and that’s a tendency with some things that we do, beware of that. When everything is said and done, whether you sell the company, or your kids grow up or you go into a different division of your company, you still will have your best friend right there next to you. I cannot urge you or say it enough, that is your best friend, your best ally.
They’re your biggest cheerleader. They were the person that knows the company and knows you inside and out. You need to protect that. Don’t spend every waking hour at the company. You do need to take time away from the company. Ken and I, when we travel, we speak. We always know that we take time out for a dinner or for breakfast or for a walk, just the two of us, because we take that time while we’re at a business event to make sure that we’re working on the two of us. Those are special moments. You cannot get time back. You never know what’s going to happen, so always share that individual’s time that you have with your spouse and take advantage of it.
If you’re at a conference, go for a walk. Get up early, have a cup of coffee and continue to dream build, “This is where we’re going to go next. This is what we’d like to do,” whether it’s for the family or for the business. We’re always communicating about where we’re going, what we’d like for each other, what we’d like for the kids because you can get lost in the day-to-day stuff. There’s always a to-do list. That to-do list will never go away. It will only get smaller the more help that you get, but it never goes away. Remember that you’re with your best friend. Ken is my knight in shining armor, my boyfriend and my eye candy.
You started your presentation in Digital Footprint with the fact that for 30 years in a row, more businesses are closing than opening, small business administration. What role can women play in changing that?
I know we like safety. Women like security. We like to make sure that the bills are paid and that’s great. I need to have our bills paid but that safety is hurting our country. Kids are afraid to take chances now. They’re afraid to do things. They’re afraid to leap over a rock because it might stub their toe or break their ankle. We’re putting so much protection on this upcoming generation that we’re forgetting to tell them to take chances and follow their dreams or you can follow your dream as long as it’s within this little bubble here. Kids need to fall down. Kids need to see that boys are amazing warriors and women are amazing warriors, too. They are Wonder Women. Would you let your daughter be Wonder Woman with a sword? Probably not, only if it’s retractable.
Let the kids go do something amazing and scary because as we continue to tell our kids, “Get good grades, get a good education, and get a good job,” then we wonder why the kids are not getting jobs. They’re spending thousands of dollars on education and then they have nothing to do with it. They’re flipping burgers at McDonald’s. There are great opportunities at McDonald’s, that company is growing, but small businesses are the backbone of this country. We are the overwhelming majority of what’s out there.
Most businesses only have one to two employees. You forget that. We only think of a business as a corporation and the reality is that’s not it. Small business is one to three people. We need our kids to go out there and take chances. It starts with the little things of jumping over a rock and if they hurt their tail, “Get up. Dust the dirt off. No big deal. Now, try it again. Maybe next time we can jump over that rock and you won’t hurt yourself.”
These kids need to take chances when they’re young and keep moving and support the kids that are out there trying stuff. It’s hard to get a job. We have to change the bubble and that protection to go out and do something new, go out on that ledge and it’s scary. Try a scary thing. It’s okay. Try new things because that’s how new things are invented. If we had said, “I don’t think I like guns,” our kid was so excited that he had a Nerf Gun fight almost every single day. It’s definitely not a bad gun. It’s a fun gun and he doesn’t wear a helmet when he’s doing it.
We let them run around the house and if something breaks, it breaks. You pick it up and you throw it in the garbage. It’s not a big deal. When they’re little, teach them to take chances and then when they get older and they come with you with an idea, support it and nurture it. Tell them what they can do anything. Not like, “You can do anything you want. You can be president one day.” You don’t mean it. Support it. If you want to be a coder, great. Let’s take some coding classes or go online. There are so many things online for kids to learn about and be excited about. They don’t cost anything. There’s so much education online. There are so many programs online, not for profits or bending over backward to teach your kids something new and amazing.Teach your kids to try new things because that's how new things are invented. Click To Tweet
Just support it and push it and then when they get older and they say, “I’m going to try this,” go, “Okay.” They might fail, so you’ve got to be right there behind him to keep picking him up and pushing them out the door. Try it again, not sit around, “You tried, are you okay? You can’t do this. You should get a job.” Help them, nurture them, push them. This country needs small businesses. We need businesses but definitely small businesses because your son or daughter could be the answer to someone else’s son or daughter to have them have a job. Maybe your son or daughter’s company could be the incubator for that next person’s idea. It’s very important that you, as parents, realize you are so important and what you say going to those kids. You are their programmer. How you program your children is how they will be for the rest of their life. It starts with us.
My wife is awesome. I can’t wait to do the next one. Take care.