This is an AI transcript, with as much editing as time allows. 😎
Kathy: Hi, I’m Kathy Rushing, host of the podcast, Committed: The Entrepreneur Marriage. If your middle name is restless and you identify with words like innovator, dreamer, changemaker, creative, independent or you are married to an entrepreneur or heaven help you, you’re both entrepreneurs, this podcast is for you.
The entrepreneurial journey can be a little wild at times, like uncharted territory. Join me as I talk with others who are at various stages of the entrepreneurial process. We’ll explore the wisdom and insights they have gained, while navigating the ups and downs of the entrepreneur journey. You’ll discover that there are many couples who have found ways to thrive in both their marriage and business.
One of the reasons that I started this podcast was to have conversations with other couples who are also on the entrepreneur journey. I want to learn what other couples do to keep their marriage strong, when business issues threatened to sink the ship. Mark could never go back to working for someone else, so we wouldn’t trade this life we’ve created for all the tea in China. But sometimes the challenges that come with growing a business feel overwhelming. And you’d like to know you’re not the only one in the boat. By the way, you’ll understand the sailing analogies after you listen to this interview.
Ashley Corn and I recently connected through Instagram as she was also looking for resources. She recently launched her website. JVmarriage.com, JV for joint venture. She and her husband, Jeff joined me on today’s episode. They are funny, encouraging, and open in sharing the challenges they faced, especially as they added children to the whirlwind of Jeff’s growing business. Listen in now as the Corns share their story.
Hi everyone. I’m really happy to welcome Ashley and Jeff Corn to the podcast today. How are you guys doing?
Ashley: Doing well, thanks for having us.
Kathy: Good. Good. It’s great. Yeah. To have you both, and thank you for giving up some time or recording this on a Sunday afternoon. So, and they had a grandma sitter for their kiddos and, they were willing to give their time. So thank you so much. First of all, introduce us to Ashley and Jeff, tell us a little bit about what life looks like right now for you guys. Where do you live? How long have you been married? How many kids? Yada, yada.
Jeff: Go ahead. You can take, you can take the first one.
Ashley: So we have been married for seven years. We’ve been together for almost 12, so we kind of took our time, before we jumped into marriage. So we’ve been together for quite some time. we have two kids, we have a four and a half year old daughter. And we have a two and a half year old son and we live in South Denver area and, We are, you know, life’s just craziness with the four year old and the business and everything else that goes along with that.
So we’re kind of in the midst of that crazy lifestyle, just keeping things moving.
Jeff: Yeah. Somebody, somebody we knew once referred to it as the vortex..
Jeff: we’re right in the middle of the vortex , you’ve been dropped into it, or you put yourself into it and you start spinning and all you know is you start spinning faster and faster and faster, faster, and you don’t really know when you’re going to pop out.
Right. But I think you could, we could both agree work we’re in the vortex. You’re on an exhilarating, and sometimes you get really busy
Kathy: and sometimes you get sick and throw up
and then you scratch your head. And you said, wait, we did a, we did make these choices, right. I know you, it’s hard to believe right now, but one of these days you’re going to look back and your kids are going to be out of the house. And you’re going to, you are going to have so much time on your hands and you’re going to not know what you did in a day.
You’re going to be like when we had little kids. Oh my gosh, we were so productive. And now we’re like, You know, hardly get two things done in a day. Speaking from experience, I guess.
Okay. I actually very much miss those days when they were little, but I made the mistake one time of thinking, when are you ever going to grow up? And then next thing I knew they were, they were grown up and gone. And so it’s a fun time. It’s exhausting. Yeah, exactly. Are you both from Colorado?
Jeff: I’m from Colorado, originally born and raised.
Ashley: I was born in Ohio and then moved to Michigan. So spent, most of my growing up time and through college and Michigan.
Kathy: Okay. Alright. I was born in Michigan, but I didn’t live there very long. So yeah, we have that in common. Absolutely. I’m going to try something different with today’s episode. I have a couple of rapid fire questions just to give us a little more of a glimpse of Ashley and Jeff.
The first is, what three words would you use to describe your spouse?
Ashley: I’ll go first. I would say persistent. He was very persistent and I would say hardworking, hardworking. And if he sets his mind to something he’s going to accomplish it and do what it takes to get it done. And I would also say funny, he’s a very hilarious person, he always keep me laughing, and keeps the fun.
Jeff: She’s one of the only people in the world that thinks that.
Kathy: Are you saying, Jeff, nobody laughs at your jokes or
Ashley: Well I do, that’s all that matters.
Jeff: I’ve already made six or seven of what I thought were jokes here in the last 5 minutes of our conversation and you didn’t laugh once, so… (laughter)
I would say that, Ashley is a practical, and she is, thoughtful and she’s principled.
Kathy: Awesome. You guys make a great pair. Obviously, what book or person has most affirmed how you view the world?
Ashley: Well, I have to say my mom, honestly, as a person, she is an amazing individual and very blessed to have her as a mother and grew up with her and just learned from her values and what she’s instilled in me and continues to do so as now on, you know, very good friend and support and all of that.
And so she’s. Kind of been, I attribute a lot of my success and everything to her, so,
Kathy: Oh, what a tribute to her. You’ll have to be sure and share this recording with her when it goes live. And how about you, Jeff?
Jeff: well, there’s a few things that come to mind. If I have to pick one. So it’s hard because I’m trying to think, how do I get just out of the business mindset, right?
Yeah. But I would honestly say that probably, the five dysfunctions of a team, which sounds, sounds uninspiring right as it comes to the way that I view the world. But the reality is that, I think that the most impactful piece of that, for me is that. As long as you can, very clearly and explicitly explore conflicts.
the, the world becomes a really, enjoyable place. And so I think for me, that’s, that’s been the most impactful from a conceptual standpoint of saying we need to directly confront conflict.
Kathy: Yeah. I’ve read that book and I’m blanking on the author.
Jeff: Patrick Lencioni.
Kathy: Thank you.
Yes. I love everything he’s written and just the way he writes in fables and makes it very easy to digest.
You know, he makes it sound very easy when you read it, but putting the principles in place is so powerful. Okay. The last rapid fire question is, if your marriage was a team sport, what would it be?
Jeff: It’s as if we were supposed to prepare these answers. Right.
I think that’s a very apropos analogy.
Jeff: Ashley just that sailing.
Ashley: Oh, if that’s considered a team sport, which we have, we have a lot of metaphors for our relationship and entrepreneurial journey that relate to sailing. You can tell, your thing.
Jeff: My perspective on it. Well, one of the things that I often say about sailing first off, there’s a there’s, there’s a skipper and it requires a crew.
And, I think that both the skipper and the crew bring completely different. Certainly responsibilities, but also skill sets to that team. I think that there’s a lot of technical knowledge that is required in that sport. And then there’s also a lot of understanding agreement around when I do this. Yeah.
You’re going to do this. Or when you do this, I will do this. Perhaps that’s the case in a number of sports, but that’s something we’re familiar with. It. And then the other thing, I don’t know how appropo this is, you and your listeners can be the judge, but sailing has been described as a, long periods of, of absolute boredom, interspersed with moments of sheer terror,
not our marriage, but I think that there are, we have a very, there’s a lot going on in our lives. we, we try to. just because I don’t think we even try, but just our nature, both of us have a nature of not being satisfied with not having any lot, having our hands in a lot of things. We always have our hands in a lot of things.
It can create, some sense of, of monotony at times. And then at the same time, You know, when one of those many things that we have our hands in requires more attention, whether that be related to our relationship or something, you know, very practical from a, you know, a passion or a, or an endeavor or a business, something that we’re involved in.
That’s where some of the moments of sheer terror
Ashley: can also be very amazing. A sailboat can take you to so many places, it’s a journey. You can take it across the world if you want, and have amazing stops along the way. And it is a give and take with the crew and the captain, and being able to work together to make that happen and steer to where you want to go.
And it takes both. Both of us.
Jeff: We can take this analogy much further if you’d like, yeah. Now I’m thinking, wow, how far can we go with sailing is about, you know, you better enjoy the journey because if it’s all about the destination, there are quicker ways to get there. Right. And I think that, That, you know, I’ve learned, we’ve both learned.
but as it relates to sailing specifically, I, I love the journey. I love the journey. I, the destination is not nearly as important to me. She’s the opposite. Well, if we’re talking about actually,
how do you think about the journey versus the destination?
Ashley: Well for actual sailing. Yes. But I think if you think about marriage, you have to enjoy the journey and it has to be where you are now staying in the present moment. And also knowing if it is a storm or a tough water situation that you will get through this.
You have to stick together you have to work together to get to where it is that you want to go. And I think that relates to marriage. As well as sailing, obviously.
Kathy: Yes. And if we take it a little bit further, I’m sure. Yeah. If you go sailing, I’ve been sailing all of, maybe twice in my whole life, but you guys are making me want to go out and learn.
You probably look at weather reports and do the best you can to prepare, but you’ve probably been caught in some unpredictable weather. As is the entrepreneurial journey, right? You prepare, but there are things that are out of our control and being somehow to ride that out is very important. I love that analogy.
That is really cool. Jeff. Let’s hear a little bit about your business. I know Ashley in an email told me a little bit about it, but go ahead and tell us about what your company is, what you do, how long ago you started it.
Jeff: Sure. so my company is Virtuance. We are a real estate photography and visual marketing firm.
we focus on, on providing listing marketing for real estate. And I started the company I co founded the company, nine and a half years ago. It’s crazy that it’s been that long. and, we’ve been bootstrapped from day one. never taken a dollar of outside money for better or worse. The company, you know, starting out with two of us here in Denver, over many over the last nine years, we’ve expanded.
to, 31 different cities. our team today, is about 75 people between here. People look at it here in Denver and then, our, our sales team around the country. And then we also support a team of 200 plus, photographers. And so anytime a real estate agent, wins a listing and wants to, to represent that property in the best light.
They call us and, and we take care of business as their partner. So to make sure that the property is marketed appropriately, and it’s certainly been a roller coaster ride, we’ve seen a lot of success. Everything is relative as I like to say. And that’s the, that’s the high level, happy to dig in deeper where, where it may or may not be appropriate.
Kathy: So nine years you started in 2011, is
Jeff: that right? Very very end of 2010, but yeah. Are
Kathy: very end of 2010. That was still a bit of a tough time in real estate, right?
Jeff: It was our joke at the time was, you know, there’s only one way to go from here. Right. and, you know, I think that the reality is maybe, I don’t know whether I realized this at the time or not, but looking back, I can say that.
We, we were, pretty insulated, not, not the practical sense as far as the business is concerned, but from a mindset stance or mindset perspective, it wasn’t on our mind. As far as thinking about what’s going on in the macro world, the macro economic world, it was purely driven out of my own personal desire.
My cofounders personal desire, to create something. And in theory, you have control of our own destiny. So frankly at the time it was the last thing we were thinking about and, you know, 2011, 2012, things started to get a little bit better, but it was, it still wasn’t easy and it really. Wasn’t something we were thinking about a lot at all. It was, Hey, we can control what we’re doing, and this is what we’re doing. And, and the waters will rise all ships when the tide starts to go in our favor.
Kathy: Yeah. How did you come up with that business plan?
Jeff: Well, so I was, I was, in the real estate and commercial real estate development was my career.
Prior to starting the business. And, one of the things that I was responsible for, in my role at a small development firm here in Denver was to market properties after we built them and so one of the things that I I recognized was that we had line items on budgets for a photography expense.
And it was a classic case of, of seeing something that wasn’t, didn’t go nearly as smoothly as I thought it should. And understanding, and really exploring further as to how we can improve that process. at the time, you know, we might spend 10, 15, $20,000 to have photos taken of a commercial property and, and it would take.
You know, two or three days that somebody on site with assistance and whatnot and all kinds of lighting and, and then they would, after two or three days, they would go away and they’d tell us, it’ll be a week or two or three. Before we get the images back, we’d get, you know, 10 or 15 images back a few weeks later.
They’d look fantastic, but we’d also be, you know, out 10 or $15,000. for it. And it made me scratch my head to think, “what what’s going on?” During this time what’s going on from the time they take the pictures until they deliver them. So I started, an, an, you know, a discovery process on my own to really understand what, what, where did that come from?
My mother was an architectural photographer growing up, so I had some high level understanding, but, it was never truly a passion of mine until I connected them with my co- founder, who was very much on the artistic side of the business, understood and had a passion for all the artistic elements that went into that.
The rest, you know, I guess is history as they say. So it was really born out of looking at what I saw to be a problem in the world and thinking, scratching my head saying there has got to be a better way. And so we, we built, we worked over the next few years to build some technology to solve those problems.
Kathy: Okay. So y’all were together at that time. Right. Okay. And Ashley, did you know that he was an entrepreneur or Jeff? Did you even know you were an entrepreneur before that question? And like you said, head scratching and there’s gotta be a better way to do it. Very classic entrepreneur.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I certainly knew that I had an entrepreneurial spirit.
I think that, you know, it wasn’t my first business venture, my first entrepreneurial venture, but it was the first time that I really jumped in with two feet and said, you know, not to overuse sailing analogies, but, but the ship’s leaving the dock. Right and you know, I, I, there, I had a business prior to that, with a partner that, you know, I was, I was kind of moonlighting while I was still employed, for about a year.
I was always entrepreneurial from a young age. I mean, I remember. When eBay came out, you know, it was like 1995 or 96. I was, you know, maybe 14 years old, 13, 14 years old. And I would go to all of the, I would look for garage sales all over the city. I would have my mother drive me to garage sales, buy all kinds of stuff, and then I would resell it on eBay.
And that was the first. So, I mean, there were a lot of, there were a lot of little things that I knew I had that in me, but, but yeah, this was the first time where I really said, you know what. To heck with that, that corporate job and everything else associated with it. And I want to have control of kind of where I go here.
Ashley: Yeah. And we were dating at the time when he started the company and we were young and I think we were both a little naive as to what it really means to start a company and what that would entail and how that would impact us personally and our relationships. So it felt, it felt very exciting at the time was like, wow, he’s starting his own business.
How cool. we’ll see where this goes. And I had a good career at that point. So I was making a stable income and we had some savings as well. So it wasn’t something that, at the time I was worried about or anything like that, I was excited for him. I knew he was passionate about it, but again, it was a little, a little bit, we were a little bit naive maybe as to what that really entailed at the time.
Kathy: Oh yeah. I resonate with that. When you guys look back, do you think that kind of innocence was beneficial or is there anything you wish you had known that maybe now, you know?
Jeff: Yeah. I can speak to that. I mean, I certainly think that that naivete was, was beneficial and perhaps, I mean, for me, because, you know, entrepreneurship is incredibly.
risky and had I truly understood or appreciated that risk, I may not have made the leap that I did and I, and so that, that maybe says as much about me and my own, you know, kind of risk profile or risk tolerance as it relates to what you might think of as a typical entrepreneur. But I can tell you that.
You know, if I knew everything that I know today, when I was that age, I may not have made the decision that I’ve made. And I don’t say that to mean that I should not have. I’m very thankful that I did for so many reasons. And at the same time, I think then I have to tell you it was a benefit to me in that regard.
I don’t know about you, Ash.
Ashley: I agree. I think that I might’ve discouraged you.
Kathy: just get a job!
Ashley: it’s not been all bad. It’s you know, like you said, we were very fortunate and glad that we are where we are, but if I knew all the different risks and situations that we would experience and stressors that would come our way, I might have been a little bit more hesitant to jump into that and, be as excited.
But I am thankful that I. You know, I didn’t discourage him and that maybe we didn’t know. And at the same time, I think there are some things that would have been good to know about before. So we could have had some conversations and have some expectations maybe around, what to expect and boundaries that we would be setting and the risks that we would be taking on that I think could’ve helped us. In, in different situations, maybe not have caused so many heartaches or, or fights in the moment if we would have planned for that or have those conversations upfront. So it would have been maybe good to know some of those things, but at the same time, I think it did help us to not know everything.
So we wouldn’t have shied away from it. Yeah, we’d
Kathy: still, you know, be sitting at the dock, looking at those pretty waves. Yeah. It’s an interesting topic, the whole idea of risk, risk and preparation. We talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot will say, you know, I’m not a crazy risk taker. I’ve evaluated the risk and proceeded based on mitigating as much risk as I can.
The other interesting piece has to do with preparation. My husband, he loves whiteboards. He has this huge white board in the, in that room. And a couple of weeks ago it was full of ideas because he’s at a point now where he has time and he loves entrepreneurs and startups, and he loves talking with people about that.
So he had come up with all kinds of ways. He was going to do a book and. He was thinking of podcasts possibly, but just resources for early stage.
Jeff: There’s a copycat.
Kathy: Is that what you’re doing?
Kathy: yeah. I told him I’ve got all the, I’ve got all the equipment now. Anyway, he sat with that for a while. And the more people he talked to, it’s kind of like you, Jeff, you, you know, evaluated your risk, went in with, as you know, I’m sure as prepared as you could be, but. Most people that really are entrepreneurial, they don’t stop to like, okay, let’s study this and let’s ask all the questions and I’m with you. You Ashley. It’s part of why I do what I do is the belief that, you know, if we can prepare or provide some resources for couples, then maybe, maybe those stormy times are not quite as stormy. Maybe they’ve got a life preserver at least, and just not, you know, floundering in the water. but it seems at least in our experience and I’d be eager to hear from you guys, but it seems like people. They kind of have to get their feet wet and have that first slap in the face, if you will, or I don’t know, if we can stay with the sailing analogy.
Maybe face that first storm before they go. Okay. I really need a little more preparation. What, what are your thoughts about that?
Jeff: So, I mean, I think, you know, you asked earlier what about books that are influential? The other one that really comes to mind for me that has, has, from a business standpoint, certainly.
And I think it’s certainly bled into my personal life, again for better or worse, but is The Lean Startup. There’s a, you know, an entire methodology around the idea that 20 years ago, maybe even 15 years ago, you know, you go to business school, you learn how to write a business plan. You have you dot all your, all your I’s and cross all your T’s before you do any.
And the reality is that I think by, by some virtue, I mean, some of it is around the way that the world has changed and speed at which things move with technology and everything else. But the other reason that I think that that approach has changed or needs to change for, from an entrepreneurial standpoint is that, you know, entrepreneurs today, I think recognize the importance of failure, much more so than, than they did, or we did, I should say, you know, 15, 20, 30 years ago.
And so. So to directly answer the question. I don’t know that the preparation is really the most essential step. I think that. You know, there’s something to take it to another extreme. The other side of, of that, preparing too much is failure to launch. Right. and I think that if you look at entrepreneurs in general, you look at people who are starting new businesses.
You know, statistically, I think the statistics support what I’m about to say as well. Most of them actually never launch. and so the bigger risk to failure is, is not actually doing anything. and so I, so going back to lean startup, you know, the idea really is just about do the least, you possibly need to do to test out a couple hypotheses and then take it one step at a time.
And, and that’s certainly something that I did not appreciate nor understand when I started my business .Today, I’d like to think I have a much better appreciation and understanding of that. And that also, you know, we butt heads a little bit, I think. And as that, as that bleeds into our personal lives about, you know, Hey, should we have prepared more for this?
And, you know, and, and I, I think more from the standpoint, what will be, will be, we’ll do the best we can along the way. And we’ll, we’ll adapt and improvise and we’ll overcome whatever obstacles we have. And I think that, that is, is different. I wouldn’t say flies in the face of, but it’s different from your approach.
Ashley: I’m more of a planner that’s for sure.
Kathy: Yeah. Yeah. You guys are kind of opposite. Would you say?
Ashley: And yeah, in many regards we are personality wise. Yes. I like planning. I like plans. I like to know what’s coming. I like. I’m not a fan of surprises as much. And I like to be, be prepared. probably, yeah. You over prepare for things like, as he’s talking.
And I also do see the value in everything that Jeff is saying. And in regards to your question, as, I mean, you don’t know what, you don’t know, you can’t prepare for everything. And if you try to do that, then it’s going to hold you back and you’re going to, maybe hit something that you didn’t prepare for.
So then you wasted all this time and energy thinking and preparing about something that was opposite of what you actually experienced. So I think it’s a fine balance in planning and preparing can definitely help. but also having an open mind to know that. You’re going to experience challenges and we can prepare the best that we can, but we need to be flexible.
And I think that relates to marriage as well and giving and taking and being flexible and being willing to change our mindsets or, you know, something occurs and we can talk about it and have conversations and then plan better next time that situation arises and know that. They don’t have it all figured out, but we can figure it out as we go.
Kathy: Yeah. It’s interesting actually hearing you talk about how you like to plan and you don’t like surprises and in some ways that is, that is hard for the spouse of an entrepreneur, but I also , that you have probably done some work, reading something and shifted a little bit to embrace this journey.
I’ve seen couples where the spouse really like, they just put the nail in the coffin and said, no, it’s too risky. I’m not willing to do it. And so then the entrepreneur is either faced with, well, I either have a marriage or I find something to do that really doesn’t bring me to life the way this idea does.
So I think that’s one of the areas that, especially when spouses are very different. so from a personality standpoint, do you guys see yourselves as more alike or more different? Would you say opposites attract or no?
Jeff: I don’t know that I would go so far as that. I mean, I think that we, there are certain things that we compliment each other with very well.
and there are other things that we share, you know, very significant passions around. We are both, you know, well, it’s funny because we both seek adventure in, in all respects, and can fly in the face of some of what, what I’ll challenge. Ashley I’ll challenge you to what you just said around, around, you know, the, the it’s it’s about risk, right?
How much risk are we each willing to take, from it? You know, one of the passions we share is. Is the outdoors and adventure around the outdoors. And, I think we’ve both matured in, in that regard as well. And that 10 years ago, there was probably less preparation or planning, certainly that I did in, in some of those adventures.
and, and as a result of less preparation and planning, more risks, that was taken on that today, we look back on and shake our heads and say, what the heck were we thinking? yeah. And
Kathy: so is there a story that comes to mind with that Jeff
Jeff: so many,
Ashley: in the back country?
Jeff: Let’s just say one time we, we, we had planned on climbing a mountain. Oh, 14, 14, or here in Colorado, as they’re known
Ashley: We weren’t going up the normal trail.
Jeff: Let’s just say we ended up climbing the wrong mountain, right. So, it was that bad actually,
when we, when you, when we have a 45 minutes, we’ll tell you more, there we go.
Kathy: I’m going to hold you to that.
Jeff: But I mean, getting back to the question, I think, you know, are we more, more different or more similar? I
Ashley: think personality wise though, we are quite different. I think I’m more introverted. You’re more extroverted.
I think, yeah, you know, there are a lot of things that we do share personality wise, but I think in, in most regards we compliment each other. And so, he might have a higher risk profile than me or maybe more gung ho about going into a new venture than I would be. And I could ask him the right questions and help them prepare.
And then he also has pushed me to be a little bit like you were saying, I’m accepting and enthusiastic about trying some of those new things. And so I think we’ve kind of pushed each other and we’ve grown together. And in those regards, in the way that we compliment our, our personalities.
Kathy: I think that’s one of the most beautiful pictures.
Yeah. So marriage is the idea of iron sharpens iron, you know, we become better. Not less in our marriage. Ashley, you started a website. I’m not, how long ago did you start it?
Ashley: So I actually only started the website a couple months ago. I think two months ago I had been working on it for several years, but you know, it was that, Preparation situation.
I was talking about, I do all the research. I have to complete all my interviews. What are people going to think? If I put it out, we need to get more data on that. and so I had a lot of writing that I’ve been doing. I conducted a lot of interviews with spouses of entrepreneurs. I’m almost 40 today.
And, done a lot of my own research on different resources that can help spouses of entrepreneurs who may be going through some tough situations or, you know, struggling to make the business and their personal life. And everything else going on work and not just survive, but also thrive in that type of situation.
And so I just started putting out some blog posts and different, resources that may be helpful and interesting to other spouses.
Kathy: Tell us the name of it. And what prompted you to do that? You said you’ve been writing and researching for a little while. What prompted it to begin with
Ashley: the platform that I started is called Joint Venture Marriage.
you can find it at jvmarriage.com and basically what prompted it was. We went through a really tough time. It was about four years ago now. And it was a tough time with the business. and then it was also after the birth of our first daughter and, he was traveling all the time and I was alone. and you know, in regards kind of acting as a single parent and not really knowing what I was doing as a new mom. and then some other personal stressors that, Jeff was going through at the time. So it was, is a very difficult time for both of us. and I felt pretty isolated at that time and didn’t have a lot of outside support and a lot of resources to draw upon.
And I think it’s always hard as a new mom, but then the added stressors and the pressures of the business and some of the challenges that we were facing at that time was a whole nother level. And, if you don’t have that interaction with other spouses who are going through that, it’s also can be hard for people to kind of understand the whole picture of, of what’s happening with the business and the family. And so, I, I started actually just as a journal, I started just writing things down and kind of making notes, different things, which was helpful. Just writing out my thoughts, and questions that I had for my own purpose, for my own personal benefits. But then I started thinking there has to be other spouses that are probably feeling that same way and going through the same things.
So then I started interviewing other spouses and, talking to other people and I did find that a lot of people were going through similar challenges and that was really reassuring and validating. It’s not just me. I’m not crazy. I’m not the only one who’s struggling this time. and then, is along with that, the validation, they also gave me.
A lot of ideas and different, things that I could do personally, and also with our marriage that maybe they were a little bit further along in their journey. And I was able to gain some ideas around that. I also have a background in performance psychology. So I have a master’s degree in sport and performance psychology, and I worked for the university of Pennsylvania teaching resilience skills to soldiers for the U S army in a program called master resilience trainer.
So I had some of that background and so I thought I would draw on the resources that I gained from my interviews, as well as my own personal experience and the research in positive and performance psychology to put together some resources, some writing for other spouses that hopefully can be helpful, or at least a starting point to get conversations going and, and realizing that they’re also not alone.
And we have a community here that we can all be supporting each other and getting through some of those difficulties.
Kathy: Yeah, absolutely. I was so excited to see your website and see what you’re doing,
Ashley: I was excited to see what you’re doing as well, because I, that was one of the resources that I found. And I love that you are doing your coaching and using your background to help spouses and obviously your experience as well.
So it was, I’m really excited to see the impact that you’re having for entrepreneurial couples too.
Kathy: Thank you. And. It evolved similar to yours. My husband, he had started his business when he was in his, he was 40, his background was a pastor and then he did nursing home administration. And, you know, earlier, when you were talking about risk, he was working in nursing homes during a time when there was a lot of consolidation.
And I think there were at least two positions where the nursing home he was at was bought. They’re like, thank you very much. We don’t need you anymore. And after the second one, he’s like, you know what, I,I think I can do this. And so like you all, we were, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We were extremely naive and I know that he really wanted
peers also, I was willing to listen, but there were times when I didn’t have a lot to offer, certainly not advice when it came to, you know, handling whatever money issue there was. And he eventually got on to a board called C12. Are you on any type of board, Jeff or peer group or. Yeah, support.
Jeff: I mean, a number of places, but entrepreneurs organization, otherwise known as EO, a very impactful support group, for lack of a better way of putting it for me.
Kathy: Yeah. Yeah. People that are at your level. I mean, some of the struggles like you were talking about Ashley, aren’t things that you’re going to bounce off of your employees, right? They don’t need to know that payroll is maybe going to happen tomorrow. Maybe not.
Jeff: Payroll is happening, everyone.
Kathy: Good. Good. Well, let’s start at first. Yeah.
Mark found so much benefit from this peer board. There was a lot of education that went along with it, but like you, Ashley. I still felt like I was just kind of hanging out there in space, you know? And so it’s making me very happy to find some different people that are creating resources for spouses.
And it’s becoming, I think a little bit more of a popular conversation in the last couple of years, and I know entrepreneurs organization, EO. They also do have a spouse chapter that they’re really just in the last couple of years, starting to create, it’s becoming a little bit more popular and they’re offering some more resources for spouses and life partners and families, which is really great to see
Kathy: What were some of the challenges for you, Ashley, that you felt like nobody seems to understand this.
Ashley: I think one of the biggest challenges that we’ve kind of had, is just the time, the time, obviously to start and run a company of any size and whatever phase you’re in, it’s it’s a lot of time and energy and work.
And it’s never ending. You don’t just get to shut it off when you come home right after that 12 hour Workday or more 16 hour Workday. there’s always things that need to be done. And even if you are at home a lot of time, your mind is still at the last conversation that you had that could have a million dollar impact on the business.
So there’s also a lot of, not only the physical yeah. But the, the, space that it takes up in your mind and taking you away kind of mentally. And so I think that has been a challenge for me as an, a marriage and as a partnership and with our family to create that time together. And, as a family, to be able to.
You know, spend it together. And so I think that has been a, a major source of challenge for me personally.
Kathy: Yeah. So what, how did you guys weather that, like you said, it was kind of a perfect storm, new baby. You’re traveling a lot, Jeff, and this is just the vortex you were in. Right? So what, what are some things that you guys did to navigate that and get to the other side?
Jeff: I think, I mean, we can talk about some of the things, but, but I think from my standpoint, the biggest change that, that epiphany if, if, if I’ll, if I can use that word that I had was the power again of vulnerability. you know, it’s, it’s almost become a cliche thing these days, which I don’t think is such a bad thing either,
with Brene Brown and, and, and things like that that are, that are, I would call mainstream at this point. But I can’t tell you how powerful, the, the ability to be vulnerable has been for me. I think both in our relationship and in our business and in the business, you know, I still remember this is more on the business side, but I still remember very, very vividly.
The first time that I ever sat in a conference room with, my employees, in a meeting and the answer to one of their questions was, I don’t know. And to me that was an impactful opportunity, right? That’s was very difficult for me at the time to be able to admit that I don’t know certain things, I don’t have all the answers and, and the same thing is very true in our relationship.
You know, the, the, the period that Ashley has referred, referred to, you know, four or five years ago was a period of time where I didn’t have all the answers for sure. And, and I still don’t, but a period of time that required me to, and both of us, I mean, to, to be very, very vulnerable and have. some real conversations about things that, we just either hadn’t or had been too long or whatever it was, really understand the pain that we were both in.
So I think, you know, you asked what did we do? I mean, the big, the first thing is being with willing and able to have really tough conversations. and I think, you know, you asked Ash, what you know, where did this idea come from for her website and blogging and the work she’s done? I mean, you know, necessity’s the mother of all invention.
Right. And, and I think we needed it. it, I could certainly say she needed it, but, but we needed it because there were, and still are very significant challenges. so I don’t know if I’ve answered your question very directly, Ash you can speak, maybe more to some of the practical things that we did or didn’t do.
Ashley: Yeah. I think we, we talked about some agreements and this is one of those things that. If that question that you asked earlier, what are the things that would be nice to know is just coming up with some agreements around, and boundaries around work schedule and what it means when we have quality time together, what that actually is. Quality time with putting devices away and giving each other,the undivided attention that we want and deserve and, and need as a couple.
Some boundaries around time of when you would stop your work and be home to help with the baby and with the kids now at this point. And so that has been really helpful to have those agreements because without an agreement it’s just, you can get in the same fight over, over and over which we did. But once we set that in, we’re not perfect.
There’s always things that come up that are going to happen where you might not be able to make that agreement, but at least we have a starting point and we can talk about it. Hey, you weren’t living up this agreement right now. Is this agreement not working? Do we need to change it? Or is there something else going on that maybe now we have to tackle?
So I think that has been really helpful having those agreements. We’ve been doing for the past couple of years. Okay. Goal setting at the beginning of the year together. So really looking at what we each want individually for the year and what that’s going to look like and what the it’s gonna take to be able to achieve that.
And so we make sure we can be behind each other on those dreams and goals that we have, and also help keep each other accountable for that. And so those are. You know, with business and personally, and then also as a couple. So I think, and that’s been a really fun exercise too, or we’ll go out to dinner and they joke about what the waitress or waiter might be thinking as we have all of our pads out.
And is this a business meeting or a date or what is it.
Jeff: Eight o’clock that night we were sitting there filling out forms.
Ashley: I enjoy that. And, it’s, it’s kind of the fun exercise in a way to really see what each of us wants and how we can get behind each other to help each of us reach the goal and become closer as a couple.
So that’s been another kind of practical thing that has been helpful in that regard.
Kathy: That’s really awesome. There’s, there’s a lot of research that supports having common goals as being one of the things that helps couples thrive. So, Ashley, when are you writing your book?
Ashley: Actually, that is a longterm goal.
It’s a very slow coming because the whole of my research and writing and that type of thing is done during nap time. And so. Couple hours here and there. So I, I, it is a longterm goal, so awesome. that will be to be announced.
Kathy: Awesome. We’ll look forward to it.
Jeff: Yeah. One of the things got to mention here too, is that the thing that has surprised me, more than anything, I think in our relationship, as it relates to the business and how we support one another is, you know, there was a day, not even that long ago, maybe maybe five or six years ago where I thought up to that point, you know, what is that? You know, I’ve got the, I’ve got the formal business training.
I’ve I understand the, the industry knowledge. I understand, you know, my, what I’m trying to achieve and, and thinking, you know, that Ashley in so many ways is along for that ride with me. and, and not, and certainly that she. Is contributing in the way that she can contribute to supporting us as a couple as we both, as we both are.
But I think the thing that I’ve realized more than anything over the last five or six years, is that. her nature. The things I mentioned early on in this conversation about. You know, her thoughtfulness and her practicality and otherwise, and also her actual, academic, background has contributed more to my success, the success of our business and our relationship.
than I think I ever would have thought, years ago. And so literally, I mean, you know, she’s, her background is all about psychology and performance enhancement. and I think that, you know, I, I joke sometimes that if I, I went back to school, knowing what I’m doing now, and knowing that that was what I wanted to do.
I would have gotten a psychology degree, because business is no different than, than anything else in life. It’s all about how people relate to one another. Right. and we’ve taken. Tools, so many tools, right? I’ve taken from her, academic knowledge or life experience into the business. and we’ve also taken a lot of things from the business, I think, into our relationship.
And that that’s been what’s, what’s been so fascinating for me over the last five or six years. My team, whether they realize it or not, you know, most of the good ideas about things that are impactful in the business, as far as creating the kind of culture we want and everything comes, comes from her and the things she knows, and I think we’ve worked well together on those things.
Kathy: That’s a beautiful affirmation. How do you feel about that, Ashley?
Ashley: it feels good to hear that. And sometimes when you’re as a spouse of an entrepreneur, you’re, you’re not really sure what you can do to impact the business, or you might feel a little bit far removed, or maybe that what you’re doing, isn’t, it’s kind of in the background or in the shadow, but it’s, I think we have a bigger impact than we realize whether it’s directly or indirectly and.
it feels good that to be acknowledged that way. So thank you Jeff, for saying that.
Jeff: I know, that’s not the first time I’ve said that.
Ashley: He’s said that publicly in front of his whole team, which was really a nice gesture and made me feel very valued and appreciated.
Kathy: Yeah. Another aspect of research based is telling your spouse thank you because I think a lot of times, a lot of spouses are kind of taken for granted, you know, just the million different things they do.
So very wise of you, Jeff, to acknowledge that publicly and your business and especially to her directly. Yeah.
Jeff: That’s cool. Try to learn from my mistakes.
Kathy: Well, and, and failure is never permanent, right? We, we learn that’s. My husband loves to say that his failure is never permanent. It’s not a tattoo. It’s it’s an opportunity.
It’s only wasted if we don’t learn from it, so well, you guys have been wonderful guests and I want to give you the opportunity. If there’s anything at all that you’d like to share with listeners before we wrap up today.
Ashley: Well, I’d love for any other spouses of entrepreneurs, listening to check out the blog and website that I started.
You can find it at JVmarriage.com or joint venture marriage on Facebook and Instagram. And I’d love for you to be a part of that community. And ask me any questions that you might have. I’d be happy to, to give you the answer if I know it or help you find the right answer, if I don’t at
Kathy: the very least, you know, connect to a likeminded person.
Kathy: Awesome. Yeah. And I’ll, I’ll put all of that in the show notes too.
Jeff: Yeah, the most important, most, most important thing I think that I can share is just, and I know this is in support of everything you’re doing Kathy too, is that you know, you’re not alone. Right. As the entrepreneur and or the spouse, As a couple, you’re not alone.
The journey that we’ve chosen to be on together, is not an easy one by any means. everybody has their challenges. And I think the challenges of being an entrepreneurial couple are, are, are unique, not necessarily any harder, but they’re certainly unique, from, from those other ones that we might face otherwise.
And, you know, having these kinds of conversations, both with one another and with your listeners and anyone who’s in these kinds of circumstances, is the most important piece of the puzzle being explicit. What about those conversations? I know it’s been a huge, huge help for us. I’m so thankful, but Ash has become passionate about the things she has because it’s forced us to have some of these hard conversations to, Oh, thanks for the work you’re doing.
I know it’s impactful. We really appreciate the opportunity to. To be on your show.
Kathy: Well, thank you guys so much and we will be in touch and we don’t live that far away. So we’ll have to get together
Ashley: yea, would love that.
Kathy: Thanks. Thanks so much guys.
Thanks for listening. There were some great takeaways in this episode and I’ll create a summary in a little shorter. So next week for those hard of hearing or that prefer reading, you can find the full email@example.com. If you enjoyed this episode, it would really help spread the word. If you would give us a rating and a review on Apple podcasts or send it to someone that you think might enjoy it.
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