Kathy: [00:00:00] 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 haven’t helped 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.
Sheryl O’Loughlin is the author of killing it. An entrepreneur’s guide to keeping your head without losing your heart. She has successfully served as CEO of Clif bar and rebel. That’s a company that makes super herb drinks. She co-founded plum organics. The hardest thing she’s ever done. She said currently she works with the Jedi collaborative, a group that seeks to help build a natural products industry that promotes justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
After leaving plum, Cheryl thought teaching might be a nice break from the roller coaster of launching a new business. She accepted the position of executive director of the center for entrepreneurial studies in the Stanford graduate school of business. That’s a mouthful. As she mentored entrepreneurs, students.
She realized that no one was talking about the realities of startup life, how few startups actually make it, and the price many pay getting there personally, emotionally and physically, this became her inspiration for sharing her hard won lessons in the book. She deeply believes that entrepreneurs need a healthier paradigm.
One that balances the whole person. There are several interviews out there with Cheryl that focus on her experience as CEO and founder. So we don’t dive into that. Instead. This interview focuses more on the intersection of her marriage. And entrepreneurial experience. Her husband, Patrick did not want to be interviewed.
So we miss his voice. He graciously gives Cheryl his blessing to discuss their marriage and things they’ve learned along the way as she does. So honestly, in her book, Cheryl is passionate and refreshingly, honest with so much wisdom to share. I hope you will have grace for some audio issues. We experienced as a team of three that’s me, myself and I.
There is still a learning curve and some things I’m learning the hard way. Join me now, as I welcome Cheryl to the podcast,
Cheryl, welcome to committed the honor nor marriage podcast. I’m really grateful for your time today. Oh, thank you,
Sheryl: [00:03:53] Kathy. I’m honored to be here. I really appreciate it.
Kathy: [00:03:57] You have been a mentor to so many, you’ve taken your seat at the table, helping other women see they belong there. You’ve mentored many entrepreneurs.
And students, and you have opened up discussions involving mental health and even marriage topics that few are willing to talk about. So thank you. I discovered your book. Killing it an entrepreneur’s guide to keeping your head without losing your heart. About two years ago, I had been looking for resources, anything that addressed the entrepreneur life and especially.
When it involves a relationship like marriage. And when I say marriage, I hope people know by now that, that, that includes any committed relationships. So however you define it works here, but there aren’t many that. Take such an honest approach, looking at the whole entrepreneur lifestyle. And so I’m grateful for the way that you really pulled back the curtain and allowed us into your experiences and the wisdom that you’ve shared.
And I’d like to go a little deeper in some of the areas that you talked about. Here’s a quote from your book. And I won’t give away all of the book. I really want to encourage anyone listening to this to please go buy it. It really is a gem because what Cheryl did in this book is she laid out questions that you should be thinking about at the beginning, but here’s your quote.
We hear stories about Victoria’s climbs all the time. What we don’t hear our stories about the day to day process and the difficulty of the journey and about the rarity of actually making it to the top. Those stories don’t make for sexy headlines. The profession is filled with deeply distressed or at the very least chronically, unhappy and unhealthy people.
And that discontent comes home and affects everyone else who lives there. Cheryl when I read that, I was just like, Fist pumping.
I know I’m not the only one out there.
And yeah, sometimes we are. I’m just speaking for myself,
but tell me
a little bit about how the idea of the book came about.
Sheryl: [00:06:47] Yeah. Well, I had been an entrepreneur having been well around an entrepreneur. I was the CEO of cliff bar and Gary, who is the co-founder and the owner of the company is the quintessential entrepreneur and learned so much from him.
And then co founded a company called plum organics, which has little baby food pouches that people might know about. And. I needed a break. I starting
a company from scratch
and we’ll talk about that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I went to work for Stanford. And so funny because I had, you know, I want to just to really take this break completely from the day-to-day grind of what I was doing.
And I always had this, this image of my mind of working for a university and the sun would be shining and everyone was talking about big ideas and I thought it was this big fantasy. And then. All of a sudden, I was found myself in a really, for this job at Stanford, at the center for entrepreneurial studies at the graduate school of business.
And it was exactly that. It’s just like, I mean, the place is LA land. I took this job and. I met all of these entrepreneurs. And one of the things that I needed to do was to, to advise students and hearing, you know, you can imagine, imagine your mint in the middle of sand Hill road, money is growing on trees there and people there’s billionaires teaching classes.
I mean, the place is like another planet and here are these students and they’d come to me and they talk about. These ideas that they had that would, of course inevitably become the next billion dollar idea and on their first try on their first try. Of course. Well, yes, exactly. They had also started about 10 nonprofits before in their prior life, of course, before coming to Stanford and I thought, okay, You know, these, they have no idea.
They have absolutely no idea how hard it is. And I realized nobody was talking about it, nobody. And I thought to myself, why is this? And if she see them in, you look at the, all the headlines and you’d listen to the professors and. It was like, it’s just this culture of, if we reveal our weakness, we won’t be able to get the resources.
We won’t be able to get people to trust us. We won’t have her family be able to believe in us. And I thought this has got to change. This has absolutely got to change. Yeah.
Kathy: [00:09:39] So I was wondering if you’re familiar with Dorcas, Chang, Towson and her book. She wrote a book called start love, repeat. And she was my, she was on my guest on a, on another episode.
And she talked about that process. I think her husband Ned also went to Stanford and. They raised money for a social enterprise. And she talked about how one of their investors was actually very interested in their marriage. He wanted to know that their marriage was strong because. You know, if the marriage doesn’t work out that has a huge ripple effect in the business and ownership and all of that.
So I am onboard with you that, you know, we really need to focus on this more. So you released the book about four years ago. Is that right?
Sheryl: [00:10:35] Oh my God.
About that? Yeah.
Kathy: [00:10:43] Curious if there’s anything you’ve learned in that interim that you would add, because you covered a lot of great subjects and maybe something that you would add to one of the topics.
Sheryl: [00:10:56] No. It’s an interesting question because we so in 2017, we we’d live in a, in Santa Rosa, which is part of Sonoma County and 2017, the fires ripped through.
They did again, and that year in 2017, we lost our home. And I say that because You know, it was a really interesting experience. It’s it’s through all the hard stuff that you really come out the other side, having a whole different view of, of life. It becomes your defining moment almost to get to a, a different, the next level of consciousness in some way, you know, here we, we lost.
Everything and, and we’re, you know, we’re so lucky we, you know, it feels such privilege and that we were able to get through it. And we’re so many people have been so devastated and it’s been, you know, so, so, so difficult. And so I am beyond grateful for that. And, and you know, it really helped me to realize that w here we w it took everything.
It’s everything that we had Went away it’s that we have each other and our families intact or health was intact. And. That was really what was most important at the end of the day, the stuffed in the pantry organized, my husband spent a lot of time talking about it and we said, you know, here we were living our life this certain way in this paradigm, this paradigm really, that we’re all living in because of the society that we live in.
And we’re feeling like we got to keep grinding and grinding and grinding and. We’re in a privileged enough situation where we, we had, we had enough, you know, we didn’t need necessarily more. And so we took a real step back and I, you know, I was actually. They had stayed at rebel, the company that I’ve talked about in the book that I had just started at the time.
And I stayed there for four years, loved every minute of it, just incredibly wonderful company. And, but my husband and I said, you know, life is so short. I mean, older let’s, let’s use this chance to live a different paradigm. And so I decided to leave rebel and we. Just shifted the focus of our time.
And out of that, I ended up starting two nonprofits one that’s called the Jedi collaborative stands for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to help to the natural products industry, which has been the industry. I’ve been in my whole career to realize justice equity, diversity inclusion in the- which is
astronomically important. And we need to in our industry, because we have an industry that is focused on healthy products, but we’re only getting to them to the small segment of the population. And I also started a non-profit called the woman on boards, project it to get more women on boards. And I say that because.
With everything that happened with the fire, with this living a different paradigm and starting these two nonprofits and doing the other board work. Now, what it dawned on me when I took, as I take a step back from it, is that, you know, as entrepreneurs. When we start something, we think this is it. This is our identity.
We’re so locked into this. Our self worth feels like it’s totally capsulated in it. And as I think about my career, now that I’m getting older
and older and older, my son did 20
yesterday. Blows my mind. And I think about that are we’re in some ways where as entrepreneurs, we’re artists, and we create things on a canvas, and we think that we just have this one canvas.
And what I’m realizing is no, you take out a new canvas and you paint a new picture, a new one. You it’s almost like creative destruction so that you can construct something else that’s even. It was steps even more into what you want to become in this world in terms of your legacy. So now like this Jedi collaborative to me is like, this is the world I want to see.
And I’m painting a different picture now and a different canvas. So I think that’s, that’s kind of where I’ve come to since the book. Okay.
Kathy: [00:15:41] That is so powerful. And I, I did not know that about you, your home. I am so sorry to hear that. And I live in Granby, Colorado, which just, you know, there’s a fire here that yeah.
I was driving through a neighborhood just Sunday and just, you just needed to see it with my own eyes. You know, our home is okay. So we’re grateful, but our community has been impacted and you’ve been through that. So.
Sheryl: [00:16:10] It’s terrible. I mean, we just in the fire just here a couple months ago, it was a mile away from our house.
People have lost their house twice. Oh my goodness.
Kathy: [00:16:21] Did you rebuild where your first home was?
Sheryl: [00:16:24] No Because the insurance went in fully cover the cost of rebuilding. So we lived down the street from our other house.
Kathy: [00:16:32] But that is, that’s really traumatic. So it’s, it’s very inspiring to hear that you were able to kind of plan
Sheryl: [00:16:39] Its part of our reality, you know the world has changed.
It’s you know, the things that are happening, the climate has changed.
Kathy: [00:16:47] Yes. Gosh, thank you again. I mean, I think some of what I enjoyed so much about your book Cheryl, is you’re so vulnerable and you just don’t find that a lot in. In the world of entrepreneurship, especially. But in the world in general, you know, we tend to hide and gosh, I can’t tell you what’s really going on because what would you think of me or what, how would that look?
So thanks for sharing. I found some. Other great interviews with you that really tap into your business expertise. But today I want to go a little deeper about that intersection between marriage and entrepreneur life. And you talk in your book a lot about your relationship with Patrick, and he sounds like an amazing partner and person and friend.
For those listening, he did not want to be interviewed, but said it’d be okay if we talked about him. Very nicely. No, sorry.
Sheryl: [00:17:48] Haha he’d be ok if we talked about them and not so nicely too!.
Kathy: [00:17:52] Well, those are my words, but, so I’d love to hear a little bit more about your relationship. How long have you guys been married?
Sheryl: [00:18:01] Oh, how long? Since 97. How many years is that? 23, 23. Well, congratulations. Yes. Yes, that’s awesome. But we’ve been together since nah nine he 90. So that’s 30 years and I know that because. My daughter turned 30 this week.
Kathy: [00:18:35] Yeah. And you guys have two boys, right?
Sheryl: [00:18:37] We have two boys soon to be in, in a week to be 17 and again, a 20
Kathy: [00:18:45] very good. So tell us a little bit about how you guys met.
Sheryl: [00:18:51] We were actually both working at general foods, which now is no longer named general foods. It’s actually craft. And we ha we were, there was just a group of young people that were there and we’d go out and we’d all party together.
And there were just all these kid clandestine couples that nobody knew about. And when I started dating, we were working on this project together. I was, I was running the. Cool embarrassingly enough. I’ve been in the natural products industry forever. I was running the Kool-Aid that flavored powdered.
Sugar was running the Kool-Aid wacky warehouse where kids had to collect little UPC codes to get boys. And I needed to figure out how to manage the inventory. The warehouse and Patrick was his brilliant it guy. And so I said, can it help me to find an algorithm to make this? It made me figure out the, the inventory that we needed.
And then I was like, How’d this guy is pretty smart and he’s pretty cool. And all of a sudden, one thing led to another and then he moved to California one month later. That that was the end of it. I was living in New York. Yeah. So what happened after that? Yeah, it just kept going long term for one year and I suddenly said, you know what?
This guy’s pretty great. I moved out to California.
Kathy: [00:20:22] That’s so you moved out there while it is challenging enough to have
one entrepreneur in the family, but you guys are both entrepreneurs.
Sheryl: [00:20:31] Yeah, well that was not the best move we’ve ever made. We’re going on to work at Clorox, very stable job, wonderful company.
That was a lot easier.
Kathy: [00:20:43] Okay. Well, I was going to ask, if you knew at the time that you were entrepreneurs or who was the first to kind of dip their toe in that water?
Sheryl: [00:20:53] That’s an excellent question. I wouldn’t have asked me that before. We both. Did it for the first time, at the same time, that was not a smart move at all.
We, he was believe it or not he is always been the one to have the spirit of an entrepreneur. He’s much more of a risk taker than I am. I ended up being the one that was the continuous entrepreneur and he went to work for the big company. Yeah, which is so interesting, but you know, I am having, I taught over at Sonoma state university to entrepreneurs and I worked with this a tenure professor who had this game that he played with students.
I talk about it in the book where he’d say, okay, is this students wanting to be entrepreneurs? I will either give you a dollar now, or I’ll give you a hundred dollars at the end of the year. So w what would the entrepreneur do? Everyone would raise their hand and said, I’ll take the hundred dollars down the line.
He’s like entrepreneurs, don’t take the, put the a hundred dollars down the line. They take the dollar that’s here right now because it’s a resource and you need it. I mitigate risk. That’s how I am as an entrepreneur. I mitigate risk.
Kathy: [00:22:14] Yeah. That’s interesting. Because as my husband talks with different.
People that are maybe thinking about being entrepreneurs or maybe they’ve already launched, but one friend in particular, he’s really not a risk taker. And I think it’s a little bit of a misnomer that, that they’re always risk takers, as you said, they mitigate risk,
Sheryl: [00:22:34] right? Exactly. Exactly. You have to, because you have no safety net, you’re creating the safety net.
Kathy: [00:22:42] Yeah. So you’ve, you’ve got to address as much as you can going into it. Would you say that you and Patrick are more alike or are you opposites in ways that strengthen each other and your family? Oh,
Sheryl: [00:22:57] my God, we are opposite. We have, here’s what we share. We share values. Absolutely. Even though he’s Catholic, I’m Jewish, our values are completely aligned.
We share our number one value is family love. We share that. Well, we don’t share is our approach. In many ways. He is. Mr. Calm. Cool. He lives his life. Kinda like, you know, like this kind of life is good and we go along and sounds good. I live my life like a roller coaster every day. It just me out. And I think he would say if he were here, that I helped to make life a little more exciting.
Kathy: [00:23:54] It’s I always find it interesting, you know, with couples. Cause some people say opposites attract other people are like, no, you have to be the same and everything. And I just say, how boring would that be to be married to yourself? You know,
Sheryl: [00:24:08] Oh we would drive each other, if he were me. Yeah, we would not be married anymore.
He would drive me up the friggin wall.
Kathy: [00:24:16] So you’ve found a way to, to balance that. And that’s awesome. Want to dive in a little bit to one of the chapters in your book, on the entrepreneur and romance, you cover different relationships, you cover friendships and partnerships and. Romance. I know I’m missing some others, but in this chapter, you describe a time when you and Patrick were both involved in startups.
Patrick start-up blue sky ended up not making it. I’d like to dig a little deeper, partly because I was thinking this must be the most difficult time, but hearing your story about the fire, that might’ve been a more difficult time.
Sheryl: [00:25:02] No, no. The fire was not even a quarter of how difficult the time. Was with Pat what Patrick went through and I’ll tell you it’s, you know, a big thing.
What, what support does health love that finances? If that’s what I’m saying. When we went through the fire, we were okay on finances and so many people weren’t and when we went through blue sky, it took everything. I mean, we were financially devastated and that was. So deeply scary, so, so deeply scary. So here I told you how Patrick was, is always even keeled.
He, he went through such a deep depression. He could not literally could not get out of bed for three months. He had to go to the Stanford sleep clinic to learn how to sleep again. It was, we didn’t know what we were going to do, so that by far was so much harder.
Kathy: [00:26:01] Yeah. And when you talk about, I think you reference
something like 95% of
startups don’t make it.
So that was not at all unusual, but I don’t know if there’s a way for us to prepare, you know, I mean, looking back, but, you know, would you have done anything differently?
Sheryl: [00:26:26] Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. And he would say that too, so yeah. You know what we’ve, what we thought is here. We’re creating a balanced portfolio, if you will.
We, my company was funded through venture capital, so it had felt like it had a bigger safety net with his, we said, okay, well, we’re going to put our family finances into this thing. And we thought, you know, they balance each other out the. What we did, however, with Patrick’s company is the way he articulates it.
You know, it was a family set context. It was a it was a fam a healthy family. Entertainment place. It was like the antithesis of Chucky cheese, where there were activities. There were, you know, physical for kids and creative and we served healthy food and parents could get a glass of wine and a beer.
And every one we told about this concept was like, dad is the greatest concept in the world. You know, that’s where you got to really understand the feedback. You’re getting greatest concept in the world. Why isn’t anyone done it? Well, that’s why you gotta ask yourself why isn’t it?
What Patrick Higgins would say is we created a Taj Mahal. So we got this huge space in Emeryville and we were so naive. We had absolutely no idea that. You don’t take on a space that big, a great added to your personal finances to greet, to take on the rent. No upgrades from the landlord. All of a sudden we kept finding out, Oh, delays from the city.
Oh, we gotta, we gotta upgrade this thing. That thing the whole time we’re stealing out money with the place not opened for the rent and paying all this other money. And. So time is going by, and it’s a beautiful, you know, I actually was not a beautiful summer. It was very rainy and in Emeryville, California.
And finally, finally, after going through all this it’s time to open this indoor Playspace doors, open sun comes out. It is beautiful outside. After it’s been crappy outside. Nobody wants to go in and go into an indoor play space. Well, we’ve burned through most of the money. And then we opened the doors, not nearly at all to capacity.
And I will always remember the day Sierra I’m doing my own startup. I’m stressed out. I have a really difficult investor and I came home one day and Patrick walks in the door. And he’s literally white as a ghost and you know, my calm husband and I I’ve never, I don’t know. I hope I never have to experience this again is what is a ghost and literally cold to the touch and Patrick, what is going on?
And he could not speak. And I don’t know if it was two seconds. I don’t know if it was an hour. I don’t know how much time passed, but he literally could not speak. And finally he looks at me and he says, it’s all gone. Are you talking about it’s all gone. So I burned through all of our money. We have nothing left.
And here we have this lease. We were stuck with this lease. And so. There was more money to go out the door. We took out part of our 401k because we didn’t know what to do. I wanted to support them and give it more of a chance that burn through in a second, that was complete waste. And it was just, we had to go through trying to figure out what this landlord, it was the whole, the whole thing was a phone calls from debtors.
The whole thing was. Horrible. So if I would have done a long story short, I would have done it completely differently and Patrick would have done it completely differently. We would have gotten someone that understood the restaurant space. We would not have done what we did with the landlord. I mean, there’s lesson after lesson, after lesson, you have to have people with a knowledge of that industry.
No matter how. Smart. We mistakenly thought we were an unheard tumble. Because we thought, Oh, we’re a MBAs. We’ll figure it out. You know, it will work. That was wrong. Answer. So.
Kathy: [00:31:07] And I think part of what
motivates both of us is if, if we can take the hard things or things we learned the hard way and share them.
But I don’t know. I sometimes wonder,
do you think anybody listens?
Sheryl: [00:31:23] Yeah. You know what? I really, I really do, but to your point, it tastes. Humility and being humble is it’s really hard to hear. I’ll take it to the mindset that you know Patrick had and he’d share a few we’re here. Which is when he had this whole concept, this mindset, and people said, I remember students saying this to me at Stanford, too.
Everybody’s a naysayer. Everyone will tell you your concept is bad. So you just have to take the risk and be brave, blah, blah, blah. Look, what’s, you know, Steve jobs does well. Steve jobs is one in a million and still not take as much risk as people think he did. And. And so, so P what, Patrick. So he was ignoring the naysayers and people saying, you know what?
A lot of restaurant businesses are really hard. They fail, blah, blah, blah. And Patrick said, what I didn’t, what he didn’t do is see the thread of truth in that. And I’m not going to do this because I don’t know this industry until I find a partner. That will do it with me that knows intimately what this industry is all about.
And that was the third tooth he met. He missed. So what I always encourage entrepreneurs to do is not that you have to pay attention to everything that everyone’s, or it should say pay attention. You don’t want to have to take action of everything that everyone says. That’s fine. The thread that is going through each of these that is telling you the thread of truth.
Kathy: [00:32:58] Hmm. That’s so good. As you said, you
and Patrick share a very deep value for the importance of family. And it sounds like you kind of clung on to each other and got through that time. What are some other things you think you did well during that time?
How did you stay connected? And you talk a little bit in the book about not having resentment, which is really difficult.
Sheryl: [00:33:29] Yes. You know, Yeah, it’s, it is so easy to blame each other and it is, yeah, it’s like almost a self protection. Like I didn’t do this, that person did that. And you know, I said to Patrick, I remember that when he talked about this idea and he wanted to do it so badly and I had held off. For a while. And really like, I’m nervous.
I mean, this really went against my grain of it. Just put, it just stretched us too far. And I saw how passionately he wanted to do this. And I finally said to him Monday, and I remember it was Thanksgiving. And it was 2007, I believe I said to him, okay, I’m there. Let’s do this. I know how much you believe in this and how important this is to you.
Let’s do this. And I will never forget that. And I said to him, I, I said, I’m in this thing, I’m in this thing now, even though it went bad, I’m in this thing with you, that doesn’t change the commitment that I made to do this together. Now I would say as a couple, it is so important that you’re holding.
Hands and making it happen. Now I’ll have to say it was hard because I know that if I would have said no, you know, it would have been really hard. I mean, he would have resented that too. I know we’ve talked about that. I know he would have, so I, I’m not gonna say, you know, I’m this. It’s a great, wonderful person.
I was, I was afraid to, but the point is that we’re in this together. It’s a life that we have together and we’re all going to make compromise. We’re going to make compromises. We’re going to do things that maybe we wish we never would have done. Yeah. Hindsight, of course I wish I would have said no, but you know what?
I would have said no. He would have always wondered. So I don’t think I could have said no. I think that’s the thing that, that we forget. And I look at my kids and I try to tell them, now life goes on, you go through hard stuff and it goes on. Yeah.
Kathy: [00:35:53] Well, you guys have really modeled that. And I’m sure there were days where again, one’s up and one’s down and it’s really hard when you’re both down and you see your husband depressed.
Sheryl: [00:36:08] You know, that’s such an interesting, important Kathy. Cause I, when he went through his depression, I, I bet it was almost like I became, you know, everyone says you have these stories of moms picking up the cars like adrenaline rush when their kids are, you know, in, in danger, underneath the car. That’s how I felt like, I think I had an adrenaline rush for three months.
I literally could feel, I could not feel. And as soon as he started getting better, it’s amazing. After three months he came, popped right out of it and became himself. I fell apart. I completely fell apart. And I talk about it in a book. I ended up coming down with an eating disorder because I just, I needed to control something.
And the easiest thing to control was my eating and my exercise. So that’s what I did. So I fell apart too, but he, when he fell apart, I was there. What I fell apart, he was there. Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. Isn’t it?
Kathy: [00:37:11] And the other thing that strikes me is that you guys had some history together already.
I think about if that had happened, say in your first year of marriage could be really, even more challenging. What I learned in your book is again, this deep friendship that you and Patrick have and how you, you refer to him as your best friend. What, what are some things that, that you all did to create that foundation?
Prior to that time.
Sheryl: [00:37:44] Hmm. Well, you know, we, in some ways grew up together. We were 24 when we met, when we met and close to 30 or 31, we got married. And I think in that we just, we, we really think a big part of it was. Communicating with each other. And I think that sounds so trite, but it was being in constant dialogue and say insane our truth and being open to each other’s truth.
And we realized through that and how, you know, credit my mom for this because she’s, you know, she had her, my father passed away and it was young and she got married a second time and she. Focus so much on that marriage. She went out to dinner with him every Wednesday and Saturday, and that was nothing came in the way of that.
And I, I watched this as a kid and how. How bad did they became. And to me, that was kind of, that was the model. And for Patrick, his parents were married his whole entire life until his father just passed away at 87 years old married well over 50 years.
Kathy: [00:39:07] Oh my goodness.
Sheryl: [00:39:09] So we had these wonderful role models and, and.
I, you know, I just, well, one of the things that came out of that for us and this, you hear this a little bit more to help, but at the time I had friends that really criticized us for believing this, that our marriage came first. Yes. We had two kids and we said this before we have kids. Our marriage comes first because if that is not strong, Everything else falls apart.
And our kids see that they see that we take the time to be together and focus on each other. And you know what? Kids are a part of this little happy hour that we’re having right now. They both boys have said to us that that is the way they want to be with their significant other, that they’re understand the importance of the priority of the relationship.
And. My God, that makes me so happy. And we have, we have an extremely close family, but I think it’s because that we put each other first that is allowing space for that tablet. Yeah.
Kathy: [00:40:18] And you think about
the, the impact, if like when blue sky did not make it, you know, if you didn’t have that foundation,
you’ve got nothing.
You know, and as you so eloquently said earlier, you know, you lost your home, but you realized you had each other. And
I just, I I’m,
again, I’m grateful for you sharing that because
it’s a drum beat
that I want to keep beating. I saw a YouTube video with Mr. Wonderful. He was being interviewed and. He was sharing a story about a student that said he had a dilemma that he was engaged.
He had already started a venture that was doing very, very well, but it required a lot of time. And his fiance wanted some time with him on Sunday. And he said, what should I do? And Kevin, Kevin O’Leary said. Well, you’re going to have to make a choice. And he said, and I think he made the right choice, implying that he chose the business over this relationship.
And I’m just like, no, I mean, I think there needs to be an understanding, especially if one is an entrepreneur and the other is not, it’s important for them to understand the risks. And I think that’s one of the things that you address in your book. Is the commitment that it takes and it takes both of you being on the same page, about, as you said, agreeing to start a business, because if you’re in it together, then you can’t go back later and say, I told
you, so, yeah.
You know, even if the business makes or the idea or the invention or whatever it is that somebody starts there are going to be Rocky places. Getting to success. And I think that’s, we just don’t talk about that enough. And so that’s some of why we have these conversations.
Sheryl: [00:42:27] Well, I think that, you know, and something important about that is that, you know, as entrepreneurs and with the pressure of, with investors and everything else and feeling like.
Society is saying we have to work 24 seven and that we’re bad entrepreneurs. If we’re not working, we didn’t make it happen because we feel like were holding the whole thing together. And you know what? I, I I’ll call excuse my language. Bullshit on it.
Kathy: [00:42:55] Yep. Throw, that yellow flag,
Sheryl: [00:42:58] because it, it, it is, we are whole people and if we’re not fed outside said in every way from.
The things that help us to be healthy and relationships that are healthy, the whole thing falls apart. I think so many investors do not understand it. New, reference it in a positive way earlier is that. Taking the time for, for him, for him to have taken the time with a spouse would strengthen his ability to come back to work stronger.
It would create a stronger relationship, which is, you said earlier is the bedrock too. Everything being thriving. If your relationship is falling apart, how can you possibly focus on being strong for the business? So it is us as whole people that have to be strong and going in jamming through it all the time is the fastest way to burn out and is actually what’s going to make the investor’s money, not a good return.
So we have got to shift this culture as to how we think about startups.
Kathy: [00:44:09] I just want to say preach it girl.
What about, was there other marriage advice that impacted your relationship? You talked about having very positive role models and that is awesome because that’s another thing that a lot of couples just don’t have. And I did a lot of premarital counseling when I had my office years ago. And I would often ask a couple, who do you have?
That’s a role model for you? And they look at each other like nobody, and it just broke my heart, you know? But was there is there a book or did you guys ever have a marriage coach or a counselor or what are some other Tools maybe that were helpful for you and Patrick, anything come to mind?
Sheryl: [00:44:55] Well, it’s not a tool, but I would say just the, you know, it’s kind of goes back to your, how do you support each other and, and really listening to each other.
And so, so there was a situation. I actually talked about it with my buck. So I had that. Close group of girlfriends that we have our mommy group, we called it. And I actually called ourselves the mean mommy group, which is horrible, but we were this, there was this big group of moms that got together and we formed little groups within this bigger group.
If people that have liked. Situations and ours was, we were all working moms, bill, believe it or not in a group of a hundred moms, there were six of us. And that was it. That was the only working moms, which is really interesting. So. Fast forward in time and here’s Patrick and I prioritize our relationship and, you know, and this group of moms was up to a hundred percent focused on their kids and a hundred percent focused on partying in a big way.
So besides when they were outside of being with their kids, So we were my husband was out of town and I was going to a party with these moms and we were driving. I was driving a friend of mine from Oakland to San Francisco and my friend looked at me and she said, you know, if they were being, you know, my group of friends since.
Sometimes we are, as women was being kinda like weird, like they weren’t really hanging around me as much. And I thought what’s going on with this? So she said, you know, Cheryl, I got to tell you. We just don’t agree. We, with the way you live your life, we think, you know, you focus, you focus so much on Patrick and not enough on the kids, in his judgment upon judgment.
And I started bawling and I was like, What’s wrong with me. Maybe I’m just like, must be such a horrible person. And I hadn’t spent were on San Francisco and had to spend the whole entire night with all these people that I, everybody hates me. I’m here with all these women. I wouldn’t take it awful. So I come home and I called Patrick and I said, yeah, conveyed the story.
And he said, sure. Why are you listening to that? He said, this is what we believe is important for our family. These are our values who cares what they think. And I thought to myself, this sounds really silly, but I literally thought this like, wow, I never, never even actually thought of that as a possibility of not really caring what they thought and being comfortable with what we believe, because we made a very deliberate choice and he.
Just changed my whole entire mindset on the thing. And interestingly enough years later, so I’m still friends with these people, this woman who I’m talking about, ended up getting divorced from her husband. And she said to me, you know what, you and Patrick did it. Right. We didn’t understand that, but you did it right.
Kathy: [00:47:56] Wow. What a great story. Coming to an end of our time here. I thought about a question that Stephen Covey asks in his book, the seven habits of highly effective people. And he has an exercise where he. Tells you to envision yourself, you know, you’re, you, you have died. You’re in your casket. Your friends, family, coworkers are coming by and paying their last respects.
And that it’s an exercise to illustrate start with the end in mind. So I’m curious Cheryl, with all the amazing things that you’ve done, how do you most want to be remembered?
Sheryl: [00:48:40] As somebody who gave lots and lots and lots of love in that. My husband and my kids, especially my in my friends, felt like I just am him.
My colleagues felt like I deeply, deeply cared about them and they felt seen,
Kathy: [00:48:59] well, I would love to meet you in person one day.
Sheryl: [00:49:03] That would be awesome.
Kathy: [00:49:05] I feel like you have made the world a little better place and we need as much of that in this day and age as we can get. So I want to thank you and Patrick for giving us a picture of what a supportive relationship can look like even in the dark time.
So is there anything else you would like to share before we wrap up?
Sheryl: [00:49:31] No other than, I just want to thank you you, because these are the conversations that need to be had more and more. So again, we do change this culture of entrepreneurship and the way we look at it, now, it doesn’t have to be this paradigm.
And so thank you for the work that you’re doing to help to create that change.
Kathy: [00:49:52] Oh, you’re welcome. Thanks again for coming.
As always. Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed this interview with Cheryl and I’m curious what struck a chord with you after hearing their story? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s Kathy with a K you can also find more marriage resources at my website, Kathy rushing.com and sign up for my monthly email, where we share like friends sitting over coffee.
If you could give us a rating and a short review on Apple podcasts that really helps others discover this conversation. You’re building a life together. Make it a great one. See you next time. .