One of the most common reactions I receive when people hear that I work with my husband is, "Wow, that's impressive, I couldn't do that with my significant other. We'd kill each other." And while I totally understand that perspective, and at times we've shared similar sentiments, we've worked hard to build this business together, while learning some valuable lessons along the way. Whether or not you've worked with someone close, here are some of the pros and cons we've discovered over the last 3 1/2 years and a few of the solutions we've employed.
1. Our success and failures are shared equally. We have the same goals and objectives, so every time a project succeeds, we celebrate as a team, which feels great. It also buffers the sense of failure when things don't go well, since we share the responsibility of developing a successful business.
2. Our schedules are flexible and in sync. We have the luxury of setting our own work hours, and while I prefer to stick to a more traditional 9-5, if we decide to take a vacation, we don't have to figure out whether the other person has the time off. Also, considering we're raising Sloan, knowing the other person is usually available provides a level of convenience when scheduling meetings and/or events.
3. We spend a lot of time together. This kind of goes along with our flexible schedules, but having the option to experience new things together, on a daily basis, is pretty special. Last week after shooting an outfit on a blustery day, we ducked into a great ramen spot for a spontaneous little lunch date.
4. Confidence that we have the best intentions for the business. There's no one I trust more than G, so I know his thoughts and actions when it comes to our work are always for the best. A business can only succeed by bringing on the best employees, but there's a different level of confidence given, when one of those co-workers is your spouse.
5. We get to see each other in a different light. A lot of you know that I met G while I was working at AOL and he was one of my clients, so I understood his background and experience, but getting to see how he manages our business and work in a new capacity is something I admire. He also knows a lot of the responsibility of this company falls on my shoulders, as the front-facing person of the company, and is always the first one to applaud and support me when I take on new challenges.
1. We spend a lot of time together. Yes, this is both a pro and a con. We love each other, but there are weeks where we wake up at 6am, feed the baby, go for a walk, commute in to work, go to lunch, drive home together, put the baby to bed, have dinner, watch tv, go to sleep and repeat the same pattern the following day. We recognize this isn't always healthy and have implemented several remedies to alleviate excess stress, like planning personal time away from each other, whether it's me going to a weekend hip-hop class or G going for a long bike ride. Ultimately, you need a little separation just to keep sane and that includes individual time away from the family unit.
2. Personal tones bleed into professional conversations. Because we have a deep level of personal intimacy, it's often easy for discussions or debates to take a less professional tone, which is problematic when working in a team environment. We've addressed in a few different ways. The first is by asking ourselves, "Is this how I'd speak to another employee?" The answer is usually no, so it's easy to adjust the discussion points. Another method is using select phrases, to give each other a heads up when one of us feels the conversation is going in the wrong direction.
3. Stubbornness when it comes to our opinions. While we have similar professional backgrounds, we approach business differently and feel very strongly about the positions we take. Since neither of us is 100% correct on every idea, we've adopted the approach of not automatically disagreeing with the other's opinion, but actively thinking about their ideas over the course of a day or two. Most of the time it leads to a middle ground decision that often satisfies our goals.