Brent & Julie Cody
Kathy: Good morning. Brent and Julie are joining me today on the podcast and I am so happy to see you guys. How are you today?
Brent: Doing great.
Julie: Thank you for having us.
Kathy: You are welcome. I know you have three little boys that are probably sitting in a corner with their hands folded and perfectly angelic and reading books.
Brent: I, I think I overheard them saying they wanted to sabotage this and I had this, I had to pull them aside and say, Hey, no, can’t jump in on this
Julie: podcast bomb, right.
Kathy: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well, tell us a little bit about you guys. We just want to get to know you. Where do you live?
Brent: We live in Fort Collins, Colorado.
We’ve been married for almost 15 years.
Brent: Love this place.
Kathy: Awesome. What are you guys doing for work currently?
Brent: I started a small consulting business
about a year and a half ago. And that’s what we’re doing full time.
Julie: And I have the pleasure of staying home with the kids and educating them right now.
I have two that are homeschooled and one that is in the virtual learning
Kathy: Oh my goodness. This has been a rough year for parents, hasn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. How old are the boys? Now?
Julie: We have one who’s six, one who’s eight and one who’s
10 fun ages and
Kathy: life is just so full. I love it. I hear a rumor that you guys are taking a big trip soon.
Tell us a little bit about where you’re going and how you’re able to plan that with work and school.
Brent: Yeah, we’re heading to Hawaii for a few weeks. We’re excited about it. You know my work has kind of ebbs and flows of busy-ness and we just went through a very busy phase where I had to be in front of clients a lot.
And the honor of being in front of clients. But right now we can kind of work remotely and there’s a lot of technical work to do. So we’re able to kind of coincide my work with the ebbs and flows of desk, desktop work programming. And so with the kids, Julie’s just kind of a miracle worker to get the kids to be above, above schedule.
You know, they’re doing really good on their classes, so.
Kathy: Awesome. Julie, you were in nursing school, weren’t you? Or have you finished?
Julie: I nope, I was actually just taking the pre-recs when and finishing those up. I had been accepted into the program. But that was right as we were deciding instead to go a different direction and have Brent start the business.
And we knew that was going to take a lot. And with the kids, it just turned out very well. That that prepared us for the COVID times. We had already pulled the kids out of school and we’re making some adjustments to our life anyways. So worked out timing wise, where we had entered into that lifestyle first.
So I, right now I don’t have plans to go back. It’ll just be a wait and see right now, keeping the kids going with school is, are our top priority for kind of my role.
Kathy: Full time. I can only imagine. Yeah, well we will come back to more of how you guys launched and everything, but I have a couple of questions, just kind of fun questions to get to know you in a more rounded sense.
If your marriage was a team sport, what would it be?
Brent: Climbing rock climbing
Julie: Does that count as a team sport?
Brent: Well, yeah, you have to help each other. And belay that’s a really good way.
Julie: Keeping each other going and safe and balancing each other. I don’t know. What
would you say?
Brent: Saving each other’s lives? I think rock climbing is, is a good analogy.
The one that came to my mind when you said that was TaeKwonDo sparring we had a ton of fun, doing that when we were, we had, we fostered for a while and we were doing karate and Julie and I have more fun, you know, sparring with each other. It was that was pretty fun. So it’s kind, kinda like, I dunno, exciting playful taking care of each other.
Julie: Getting a few hits in, getting a
Brent: As I recall you were doing all the hitting on that
one sided with the amount of
Julie: That’s because he’s amazing and I was just learning. So he had a lot more control.
Kathy: Gotcha. I’ve never done TaeKwonDo, but I had another couple that talked about a different, more like wrestling and sparring partners. So it’s been kind of fun to ask that and just hear what different couples come up with.
And then I had a feeling rock climbing might be y’alls. Now I have not asked this question of other couples yet, but I have a feeling this one could be a fun one. What, what is the craziest thing y’all have ever done, together, like on a date or a, just an outing
Brent: waterfall, in Fiji?
Julie: Yeah, that was a really fun one.
Kathy: Oh, What was that?
Brent: We honeymooned in, in Fiji. It took us like a year to save up. And we went on honeymoon in Fiji, and we we, we did this huge bike ride to a hike, to a waterfall. And so we had to, we had to bike around this Island and then had to do this crazy hike and a couple notable things happened during that adventure.
One, we were saying, you know, we were, we were renting bikes and they said, you’re not going to bike all the way around the Island to that trail head, are you? And we’re like, Oh yeah, we’re we’re triathletes. We can definitely do this. We’re we’re awesome. And so we were, we right as we left, they switched Julie’s brakes on our, on her bike.
So the rear was on the wrong hand. And so we were out the gate, she slams on what she thought was a back brake but it was her front. And she went over the handlebars like right in front of everyone. Right as we set off on this, like, I don’t know, 20 kilometer journey or whatever it was, I don’t know what it was.
But anyways, that was the first step. And then we went on this huge adventure and it was raining and this there’s a ton of water coming through a we waded all the way to this really crazy waterfall. So that was pretty exciting.
Kathy: Very fun. And I have a feeling y’all have a whole list of other adventures. Does another one come to mind?
Brent: .Oh, mostly the adventure of having kids. It’s still going on. That goes on daily.
Kathy: Yeah. Your boys remind me of little puppy dogs and just how they play and romp and roll. And they’re adorable. They’re adorable. All right. I want to shift to like the time when you first got married and you know, all of life is before us and we have dreams and I’m curious what the future looked like for the two of you when you got married 15 years ago, especially as it related to work.
Brent: That was an interesting,
Julie: I think one thing from the very get go that bonded, brent and I is, we really had a strong value for having one working parent and one stay at home mom. I think from the get-go, that was something we saw a lot of value in and wanted to be able to pour into our kids in that capacity.
So I think in the get-go, that was something we had talked
quite a bit about.
Brent: That was a big component. Another big component was, I think Julie’s willingness to invest in me for my, my work and she’s done it multiple times. You know, one was right when we got married, I was like, I think I want to go back to grad school and it’s going to be like seven years tried to get a PhD.
And I’m like, ah, I was like, I can’t, you know, I don’t know if we should do that or not. And she was very supportive on that whole journey at that point. And then that also led to her being super supportive to starting a business. And so I think those critical components of I completely value Julie being a stay-at-home mom and her role.
Like I would rather have that than her be a CEO of Amazon. I, there her value that she brings to our family there is if you can’t put a price on it and then she feels, I think she’s demonstrated over our marriage to the invested me with my work. And so, but we try to help each other out in both regards. She listens to endless boring stories about my work.
And we work together with the kids.
Julie: I think from the beginning that Brent as an engineer was not going to fit the mold of a typical engineer. He had had a really nice job out in Kentucky working as an engineer and had left that job to move to Boulder, to build rock climbing walls and live a more active lifestyle and pursue his passion.
So I think from day one, when I met him, I knew how important it was for him to live life to the fullest and to not just go through the motions, not just live as everybody expected, but to really follow those kind of driving passions. And he’s always been an entrepreneur at heart. So even in the beginning, we didn’t expect him right away to start a business.
But I think I knew that there was a desire that at some point would come to fruition.
Kathy: Okay. That’s interesting. What kind of context did either of you have for that, of thinking about starting a business at some point?
Brent: You know, when I was in college, I was interested in entrepreneurialship. I went to several meetings, you know, joined a club and met with mentors. I guess people just telling me stories about starting their own business. You know, I just thought that that was a really neat thing to do to at much I’m much more independent, I guess, than a lot of people in the work world.
And I would thought I would find a lot of value in it and it turns out I, I have. And I, I do enjoy it immensely. So, but I definitely add back that I definitely didn’t know how difficult and complex and how hard it would be to get a business off the ground. And to sell yourself, sell your services because you may know you’re good, but convincing other people to know you’re good enough to not go bankrupt, I think was an eyeopening process.
And I didn’t know that back then.
Kathy: Right. Yeah. But you saw something in him, Julie, it sounds like that, was that something that you ever verbalized to Brent or was it more of just kind of an inner sense that you had?
Julie: That’s a good question. Did we talk about that? I think in casual conversation, he had probably mentioned his interest in getting out there and kind of being the master of what he was doing.
I think we’ve had a lot of conversations more on a work system that’s based on your abilities and merit being able to work very efficiently and get a lot done and then have more time to play. So maybe not as much directly in the capacity of, do you want to have your own business, but more on the benefits of it where it just at some point made a little more sense.
But I also know Brent is somebody who takes things to the limits in all capacity, whether it’s doing a hundred mile ultra runs or Ironman or getting a PhD, whatever he does, he’s going to do it all the way. And I think somebody who has that drive wants to be able to push the boundaries and having your own business allows you to do that.
So I think even without him necessarily telling me that would have been a logical conclusion to come to.
Kathy: Yeah, that’s very, interesting. So what, what led up to that decision? Well, let me back up one step, Brent. So you worked as an engineer, then you guys moved to Boulder. Was there another job after that before you launched?
Brent: Yea there was I, I can real quick go through my journey I got graduated college at Purdue university and got a job in heavy civil construction, which is building a lock in a dam on the on the Ohio river outside of outside of the Louisville. Man, it’s been awhile. And so and so then there’s so w went there and then went to Boulder, designed to build rock climbing gyms as their project manager for my managing the remote crews and making sure it got done with high quality.
And then so after that went back to grad school and got a job after grad school for a company in Fort Collins, Colorado called natural resource consulting engineers which is a great company.
Kathy: And what was your role in that company?
Brent: You know I was there for probably. Let’s see here about eight years and started basically in the corner as an intern and worked, I guess, worked well there and then kind of became eventually a senior engineer and helped get a lot of business for the company or at least help get business for the company and help manage and you know, found their company owner Wold Myskina.
It was just like a very good mentor. Just a really great guy, really smart great businessman and great person. And there’s a lot of other people at that company that I really enjoyed working with. And so that gave me the confidence and I believe the skill set to be a successful entrepreneur and, you know, I’ve tried before to start companies and it just total train wreck, you know, not having that skillset of experience of how to show your skills to potential clients, how to get jobs done in an efficient and beneficial manner to your clients.
And so working at natural resource consulting and engineers or NRC really helped me with that. And especially the people I worked with.
Kathy: Okay. I didn’t realize you had tried to start some other things. So tell us a little bit about how you made this transition. What prompted you to start thinking again about launching your own business?
Brent: Well, let’s see here. You know, I’ve always kind of in the back of my mind thought that that would be a great thing, a great place to be. And I, I do feel like I work at a different rate. I guess one of our driving forces is I guess, efficiency versus putting you’re just clocking in versus in clocking out.
And so one of my main driving factors was I, I knew I worked very, very efficiently when I wanted to, but I also wanted to not just constantly be at a desk, you know, eight hours a day. If I did didn’t need to be there. I, my, my, my work schedule, sometimes it’s worked 16 hours in a row when you’re completely focused and then take the next day off.
And so that was, you know, I really felt like. Being, being in a place for a fixed period of time, but not being productive, wasn’t a benefit for me. It was, it wasn’t a benefit for my clients either. You know, I wanted to give, if I’m gonna build up for a billable hour, it’s going to be completely focused and you know, giving them absolutely everything that they need for that hour.
And so basically I work my timing. wasn’t kind of in line with the standard eight hour, nine hour Workday I felt much happier following that. So I’ve always thought about my efficiency versus potentially other people. And then that I’ve always been looking for ways. And in fact, when I was with nRC. I actually went to lunch with the company owner and told him I probably want to start a business someday. And he was great, you know, probing ins and outs of it a little bit and his story. And so that was, so I think it’s kind of always been a role. And so I wanted to gain this proper skillset and then it would, it made sense potentially jump off.
Kathy: Okay. So what were the conversations like that the two of you had before launching this new business?
Julie: I feel like you hit a point with working as an employee. He was making quite large contributions to the company, coming up with some really innovative ideas. And I think there wasn’t quite as much freedom to really test those ideas out.
And I don’t think there was going to be a whole lot of reward for bringing those to the company. And I think at that point he had had enough experience and exposure that I think you felt confident that you could step out. And so I think overall, it came about very quickly. I remember us having a couple of conversations about how would we do it?
What are the logistics? And I think Brent felt this great sense, especially as the sole provider for our family. I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I can take that risk when we have three kids, it’s an, a mortgage and all of that. And so I remember just kind of bouncing ideas around, over a couple of conversations.
Then we just said, what would it take? And then I know he left on a work trip and came back and said, by the way I put in my two weeks notice. But we had, because we had talked about saying after you got back or, and then your future, but you’re, you’re once you make a decision, you’re pretty. I don’t know if I wanna say impulsive, but you follow through quickly.
Brent: That’s true for like, I think what gave we, we, before I, before we made a decision we talked about it and both of us were on board with, let’s see if, if we’re going to go for it, we will go a hundred percent and potentially lose our house. Like we’re willing, my wife was willing to put everything on the line.
And without her knowing that and being okay with that, i, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. And so a critical component for us and for me was like, I’m willing to work as many hours as needed, but I needed her to be on board with one, me working and putting a lot to it. But also being like, if it fails, are we okay with that?
Or we, you know, we, we basically have, you know, we’ll, we’ll sell our house after a certain period of time, if we can’t if this doesn’t work. Which actually almost happened.
Julie: That’s true. though, we did have some very honest conversations together about what are we willing to risk? What are we willing to lose?
And what are we not? I think we had to be very clear and on the same page with those things,
Brent: I think to Julie’s credit, Julie understood that this was one of the fundamental things in my life that I at least needed to try out, you know, it’s based, you know, I, I we’ve had conversations about this and then like, you know, if everything works out great with the company I was at and I stayed there indefinitely that that was a great place to work with
great people, great compensation, just absolutely wonderful place to work. But it, it, I would always have been thinking I should have tried to go into business for myself. And to me. It was worth the risk of losing everything just to try, because I’d rather, I’d rather not sit around thinking about it for the rest of my career.
And so it was that strong of a feeling that I was a hundred percent of board. And I was fortunate, but my wife understood that, like she understood that that was a critical component of with me to go for it. And she was willing to risk everything. Just maybe not listen to me whine about it 30 years.
Julie: The tipping point for Brent too, is when we came up with the doable obviously we didn’t want to lose our house. We were willing to, if that’s what it took, but we didn’t want to, who would? So I think for us, because we are pretty adventurous and willing to let go of things is, you know, we found the choice for us was just to rent out our house and live by camping and traveling, which was quite a bit cheaper than our mortgage.
And that way we didn’t have to worry about that expense and kind of offset our risk of losing the house. If you don’t have to pay your mortgage yourself from a new business and somebody else can that creates a lot of freedom.
Kathy: Yeah. It gives you a little more runway
Julie: and it created a opportunity, I think on our side, I sold it to Brent a little bit, just with the notion of this is going to be an amazing experience for the kids and I, and you to be able to travel together.
When else, do you have the opportunity to do that? And. Starting a new business, not having to be tied down. I can homeschool that opened up a lot of doors. And I think when he knew I saw it as an adventure and as a possibility, not just as, okay, we’ll do this for you because I love you. But remember this is just for you.
I think that attitude would have stopped him, but I think when we were all in it together and there was a benefit for everybody,
Brent: but that’s right. And that’s a kind of a key component where, you know, it was, there was an immediate benefit for Julie and the kids and I to travel as part of this, this process.
Kathy: So give us a, a glimpse of what that looked like, what you were traveling in and what it was like with three little boys and schooling on the road.
Julie: Turbulent. It was amazing and awful mixed up in one.
Brent: More amazing, but definitely had components of awful,
Julie: mostly amazing.
Brent: We I, we owned an 80, 1985 Volkswagen camper van where it was, you know, it’s one of those ones that have a top that pops up.
That’s where Julie and I slept is at the top that popped up and the boys. We would either just put on the floor of the van or fold out the seat if we were in luxury or
Julie: we’re somewhere for a little bit, we’d set up a tent and we’d stay in the tent. The boys would stay in the van so we can have a little more space.
Brent: So we went to 31 States over six months, probably.
Kathy: I didn’t realize y’all had covered that much ground. I, I had heard through Ryan and Amy, I think that maybe something broke down or somewhere, you kind of hit a stopping point. And I think you had to come back or anyway, I didn’t realize you hit so many States.
Brent: Yeah, I know we had 31 States a lot in the North and then we then the East coast and then South. And so we kinda we’ve had been traveling a lot out West and then we decided to do an East Midwest East trip for this. You know the traveling was wonderful. Like seeing all these different spots being on the road was great.
There’s a lot of really wonderfulness to it. And we’ve got these cool picture books that Julie’s mom puts together for the trip. And so that’s, that’s, I, I can’t understate how enjoyable and unique and fun it was to go to 31 States in a van with a family while starting a business. It was really fun.
Julie: That part, I think exceeded our expectations. It was really special.
Brent: So as I was starting the business, I’d be, we’d be going places. And then maybe Julie would drop me off at the airport. I’d fly to a conference. And and I’d be there one time during one of these we were actually visiting my folks at Illinois and I was at a conference in Colorado and Julie’s knee locked up.
had a major issue. And, and, you know, if you ever have been in a camper van, it’s not the easiest thing to climb up and down from the top, navigating my guitar that’s falling over in the, you know, the, the fridge and kind of like having to climb up and down. And so she’s had a locked up knee and my, my, my parents drove her to Colorado while I flew back to Illinois to grab the camper van.
And then I drove all the way to Boston while she’s getting fixed up with her knee. And so like, That was one issue, Julie, having an issue with her knee and the camper van immediately, like right when we left, started popping out of fourth gear and had an issue with the transmission, which we ended up using a bungee cord to hold it for fourth gear for like, I don’t know, 15,000 miles or something like that.
So, you know, there’s issues with the coolant system. One time we had to pull over to ACE hardware, and the cooling system was leaking, ended up had to buy a hack saw & replace the coolant system. Know like that’s all, all that exciting. Interesting.
Kathy: Yeah. Keeps it interesting. So how long ago did you launch your company and what is it that this new company does?
Brent: Let’s see launched the company in August of 2019. And this you know, my original focus was to cater to the public works area, you know, water and wastewater supply. I had some, some tools I had developed that really helped out a client in that area. But I quickly realized that just limiting myself self to that one market wasn’t I think as beneficial or even feasible as going back to my full skill set and doing natural resources consulting.
So a lot of water resources energy resources and I I’ve even done financial allocation models and maximizing the, the bang for the buck for COVID response. So, I mean, you know, basically as a, as a resources engineer, as an engineer that can take a complex problem and look at the resources that we have available and look at the staff that we have involved.
I can, I can solve these complex issues kind of in a very straightforward approach that kind of gets everybody aligned, kind of like a medic, you know, you’ve got like all your, you know, metal filings and you run a magnet over, I, I kind of get everybody going in the right direction and really maximize the resources for a given problem.
And so it’s nice because there’s a wide breadth of skills that I can give my clients. And it’s really gone well.
Kathy: And as of now, are you the only, is it a solo endeavor or do you have anyone that works with you?
Brent: It is. Yeah, it is a solo endeavor. But we’re kinda getting nearer and nearer to needing to hire someone, the amount of effort and work we’ve got going on.
Kathy: Great. That’ll be an interesting, another transition, right. So you’ve been at it about a year and a half. Is that right?
Brent: Yeah, that’s right.
Kathy: Okay. And along the way, do you guys have another couple that kind of gets what this journey is like or anyone that’s a mentor for you as a growing entrepreneur, Brent?
Brent: Well, we’ve got a couple different couples that we talk over these things with. You know , your son and daughter in law are one of those. They’re they , they know the difficulties of owning a business and staying in the healthy marriage throughout that. We’ve got another couple that we actually saw last night that have in similar shoes kind of starting a business.
It’s, it’s neat to be able to bounce ideas off. I would say that, you know, a lot of it though is we try to keep a lot of communication between each other. And, you know, I I’ve expressed this to Julie, but like, you know, my business is second to our marriage. And I don’t, I don’t know if that’s all the case with other entrepreneurs.
And I know sometimes people are a little bit more co-op, but like if my marriage tanks, I don’t really care about my business anymore. You know, like if, if I don’t have a healthy marriage, first and foremost, I don’t wouldn’t have the energy or the desire to to be a successful business owner. That’s kind of, that’s why I’m a business owner because I have a family I’m not a business owner first and foremost.
So That’s just a primary component of our relationship. And so we, we try and spend time and it’s not easy, you know, if I’m traveling on work and things definitely can go awry pretty fast, you know, being not connected or two week work trips, but it’s kind of one of our prime focuses.
Kathy: Yeah. So 15 years of marriage, what are some things that you guys do to keep your marriage healthy, work on communication, that sort of thing.
Do you guys read books? Do you go to conferences? What have you guys done?
Julie: I think the biggest thing, Brent and I are both pretty straightforward don’t beat around the bush kind of people. And so I think as soon as something starts to come up, or one of us feels like something is just off, we tend to just face it head on and talk about it right away. I think that’s been really helpful for both of us, because things don’t tend to grow and grow and grow over time.
We just tackle it right away.
Brent: Yeah. Julie’s really good at being straightforward.
yeah. Yeah, no, I think just being available to talk to, you know, I think the deal is we’re not every moment we want to talk about difficult things, but we’re all, we’re almost always available to talk about difficult things and just, we give ourselves a lot of opportunity of, Hey, I’m going to go to the mailbox.
Do you want to walk with me to drop off some letters? You know, and like, so there’s like, there’s a constant desire to, to spend time and it’s not always significant, but it, the volume of trying to spend time together is there. And then it allows for communication, especially being that both of us are direct.
Julie: I think we don’t always manage to do this, but we try to do a Bible study together in the morning just to quick start our day together and with the Lord, which I think is great.
Brent: That definitely aligns things.
Kathy: Yeah. Get your values, your attitude going in the right direction.
Brent: And it’s the whole put first , you know, like, you know, we’re stressed about kids and stressed about work, but that kind of, that, that pales in comparison to the greater forces that are out there, the greater desire to be with God.
Julie: I think something Brent’s really good at too, that he’s helped me with. I find on a lot of those quiet moments or if we go out on a date, I tend to go to the list, Oh, we need to talk about this. We need to figure out this let’s work out this problem. And he’s very good at saying. Let’s do that on a time where we’re trying to get stuff done, let’s take this time and just be together and connect.
And I think that’s something that he’s helped me learn to do a little bit more easily, still harder for me. But I think you’re really good at that.
Brent: Both of us can get into that zone though. I mean, like it’s hard sometimes to separate the stress and to change gears and so helping each other and being understandable with each other, when the one person is like having a difficult time to switch gears, maybe it’s important to talk about some of that stuff on a date, just to kind of get it off that person’s chest.
I think kind of having understanding with that and being less quick to anger, which is hard to do when you’ve been up all night with kids or work. Yeah.
Kathy: I have heard some of the stories Brent, about the hours. Like you’ll just like a dog on a bone, you know, if you’re on a project that you just keep going and it’s, it’s admirable, but it has a point where yes, you just you’re human and we all have our limits, you know?
Do you work from home Brent currently?
Brent: Yep. Yep.
Kathy: So y’all are back in your house. We didn’t talk about that, but the, the adventure ended. I mean, it continues in a different way, but you’re back in your house. And, and so you, you work from home?
Brent: I do.
Kathy: And Julie’s schooling the kids at home. So how do you guys, do you have any kind of structure that helps you separate work?
Workday school day? We’re done, let’s shift to family time, any kind of rituals, that help you manage all of those pieces?
Brent: You know, so I think the way I see it, and I think Julie and I have kind of figured this out. Like I try to be as available to the family as possible. And like, I try and go out of my way to even when I’m tired, spend time with the kids.
And, and, you know, and I love spending time with my boys in, so like, but like even trying to like make sure that I’m present and available when I can be. With the business, both of us kind of understand that I heard this, heard someone say this before, but sometimes I think both of us realized that benefits of having a business, but we also realize the costs of having a business.
And Julie’s been great helping me with those costs where anytime a client could say, listen, I need you out next week and I need an, a. Or I need you to do this for me, and it’s going to take, you know, 40 hours over the next three days, you know? And so at any time I’m available to do that for my, any of my clients.
And then that’s a real strong strong, positive for my business because I’m able to produce deliverables per their wishes. But the cost of that is Julie is always ready and has been awesome about picking up where I can’t be there. And she’s been, she’s able to be flexible with my business. So just like I don’t work as well with an eight hour day.
The downside is that that gets imposed on my family where. Yeah, I’ll say, Hey, Julie, for the next two days, like last week for the next few days, I just am. I’m just going to have to work the whole day and I’ll go on walks and, you know, connect a little bit, but like I’ll be working from 7:00 AM to 11 or later at night.
So so I think that’s an understanding we both know. And the flip side is Julie’s able to go above and beyond with that. And I try to go above and beyond when I’m not as busy to not just like zone out, whatever else I try to be more present. So there’s like a, a kind of a balance there with being an entrepreneur, especially in the consulting world.
Julie: So I think for us another way of saying it maybe is we don’t live with a rigid schedule. We have routines that we usually flow to, but there has to be a level of flexibility. But I think even within that, it’s, it’s worked out relatively easily. We start the school day and the work day about the same time we tend to
take a break and everybody wants to get outside by about 10 or 10 30. So as long as Brent’s able, he’ll usually go with us and we’ll go for a walk or a rollerblade ride or bike ride or whatever it is. And then of course the kids in school before Brent does with his work, but that’s kind of the time where I can send them outside to decompress or they can do kind of their own kid thing.
And by evening, we’re all kind of ready to roll back together as a family. You know, they of course have had to learn some of the basics. Like if Brent’s office doors are closed, they have got to stop and listen first and make sure he’s not on a meeting or an important call and they’re successful.
Brent: What most of the
Julie: time they’re getting better, I think has gone great for learning.
That’s a hard one.
Yeah. You know, and to be respectful, but I see some pros too. Our oldest who does a lot of work independently. Every once in a while like pop in and he’s down sharing the desk with Brent and they’re both working quietly together. And I think that’s meant the world to our oldest son. So to just be able to work side-by-side and that dad’s right there working too.
I think it makes me feel grown up and responsible. And
one of the, one of the team, I don’t know. What do you think?
Brent: I think so too. And you know, that just, it’s great to show your child how you can work hard. You know, I, I saw my dad doing that when I grew up, he would wake up early, early, and we’ll be working really hard, but he always spent time with us.
And so he had that balance and showed that, agile, how you, how you actually work really hard to achieve more than just the eight hour work day. You know, just, you know, if you’re going to want to enjoy your career, there are times where you’re going to be putting in more hours and more effort. And so, you know, I, I’m excited to show my kids that it’s, it’s a blessing to work at home sometimes.
And yeah. So I think
Kathy: that’s, it is a great modeling opportunity. Isn’t it? I mean, this might be one of the few highlights or good things that have come out of this pandemic year, is traditionally mom or dad, or both go off to work. Kids go off to school. Everybody’s a part during the day, and it’s, it’s really hard.
I think for kids to have a concept of what mom or dad do. Back in my years of therapy, I remember Jeremy drew a picture one time for open house. You know, my mom helps people with their problems and I thought so interesting that he had that, he was able to verbalize that like third grade. So I have a question for you, Julie.
And I might be projecting here because having been married for a very long time to an entrepreneur and mostly it’s my personality where I’m trying to read the needs of my family and provide what they need. But it was a very long time before I learned how to ask for what I needed or to refill my tank.
So I’m curious if you if you feel that you can ask for time off, basically, because it’s 24 seven, you know, when you’re the mom and the homeschooling, and
Julie: I bet you hit the mark with a lot of the wives there, I bet that’s a very common theme. It can be very hard. Yeah, I do think that’s probably, you nailed the one thing that’s the hardest for me is to ask that. Brent has always been really gracious, but I think it’s so easy for me to see you’re working really hard, you need the break, you go climb or run or have fun.
But I think it’s. Also to be fair, I’m the master of my own schedule also. And so I have to be responsible for taking those breaks and even a few minutes, I’ve started to learn. All right. It’s okay to send the kids out and just let them do what they need to, and right that time.
And we’ve taught our kids a little bit about that. I am definitely an introvert. Brent is definitely an extrovert and one of our sons is right there with Brent very, very extroverted and doesn’t want to be alone. So I’ve had to have a lot of chats with him about, that I just need that time to recharge and I want to be my best for them.
And if I’m around people 24 seven, I’m just too tired to be a good version of myself. And so I’ve tried to make that a part of our routine where we make sure he gets the time he needs, but I also get the time alone. It’s not a perfect system now. It’s still something I have to keep working and being very intentional for
Brent: sure. Okay. And I think that that is a, that is an area where we’re constantly working to improve you know, just. Kind of the role of how, how do we take care of ourselves and how do we keep take care of each other in this? And I think sometimes my personality is very much like, if you want time off, just take it, like, just, just take it.
Like I would take it, like I’m going to go on a run see ya. You know, like it’s, it’s a very selfish base way I operate. But I think there’s a disconnect in sometimes when Julie’s taken care of me so much. And I’m not as just not as good at taking care of her, just with my fundamental personality, I think.
And so that’s something I’m learning more about, especially through owning a business,
Kathy: right. Yeah. And I know when I struggled with it, when I looked back when our kids were really young, Mark would have been more than willing to do whatever. It might not have been as natural for him to read me like I would read him, but it’s, it’s kind of the nature of our personalities.
Right. We love people in the way that comes most natural for us and in the way that, so then we want to be loved in the same way, but when we’re different personalities and, and so I struggled with, being able to ask for it because I was like, well, like you said, Julie, he’s so busy doing this and this and this and this.
And so I’ll just suck it up. But that never ended well, you know, he would, he would say to me, why don’t you just ask for, why don’t you ask to take this time away before you get to that breaking point? And I was like, I don’t know. It really was a journey for me. And so,
Brent: Kathy, I want to ask you, did you feel that Mark should have known this and like, it was that, and, and I think that in our, in our situation, I think that there’s an expectation that Julie maybe feels like, why don’t you see it?
And why didn’t you offer, why didn’t you offer it? Like, why did you not know? And. Some of that’s warranted. Some of that’s not, it’s just kind of like I, and I think Mark probably is similar to me. Just never. Yeah.
Kathy: And not, not an uncaring or feeling man by any means, but we’ve done a lot of work around the Enneagram the last couple of years.
And I identify as a two, which is a helper. So I do a lot of anticipating. I love my friends and family. And so I, I anticipate their needs. So yes, I at times was like, how can you not see that I am just fried? You know, this curly hair did not happen on its own.
And so it’s, it’s been a lot of years of. Again, me learning to take responsibility for me, because Mark’s not responsible for my mental health. Right. And so I had to learn to be better about asking, but gosh, the kids were probably grown by the time I learned that.
Brent: So 50 years. Yeah.
Kathy: Yeah. Wait till they grow up. But even without kids at home, there were times, you know, there have been times probably even in the last year. So it is more of our personality. I identify as a two Mark identifies as an eight, which is very much an action taker. On the disc profile.
He’s a very high D dominance act again, action. But he has found his softer side in recent years and he probably cries more than I do. In a good way. You know, it’s, it’s sort of like the pressure of always feeling like he would describe it when he was starting the business. I say starting it, but like for the first, probably 15 years, of trying to push this ball and get it to go one revolution.
And so the stress built and built and built and kind of came to a head for us. Like our, our marriage was in a precarious place at one point and he joined C 12, which is a peer board and there are. Several different versions. There’s C 12 is a Christian peer board that there’s Vistage. There’s EO, entrepreneur.
I don’t know what the, the O stands for. But there are several different boards where you come together with peers and can really talk about some of the challenges that for Mark at the time, he had a lot of people that worked under him, and that’s not who he was going to share some of these challenges with.
And we would certainly talk about it also, but there was a point where I had limited perspective and he needed other people to help him think about different aspects of the business. And that, that was so huge for us. But yeah, so our personalities are somewhat similar. We’re, we’re both very people oriented.
But I definitely had some unhealthy stuff to, to work through. And so like when I asked this Julie, I said, I may be projecting, but I do like to encourage couples because one of the things we have found about entrepreneur couples that are successful is the ability to, to tell appreciation to our partner.
And that goes both ways. You know, I appreciate Brent, how hard you work and that you make our family, I’ve seen you with your boys. And there is no question about your commitment to your wife and to your kids. And so just being able to verbalize that back and forth to each other is is really big. I think you guys are
Julie: great that I think you’re absolutely right.
That’s something Brent really excels at, verbalizing. that appreciation
Brent: Well I screw up so much, I have to, I have to be
Kathy: great. Well, so you’re about a year and a half into this journey. You’ve had some adventures, let’s talk about highs and lows. What, what is a high and what is a low, so far on this journey for each of you?
Julie: Is that your low?
Brent: I don’t know. Maybe the whole, I think there was there was a point on our road trip where Every possible area of my life was not good.
And so I was out on the East coast by myself, Julie had just hurt her knee and my parents drove her from Illinois to Colorado where she, she could get medical attention. And then I had I basically grabbed our camper van and headed out without the kids, just, just myself to, to Maine where I was going to meet her.
And I was out there for maybe a week or more. We can have maybe a and about that time, my original concept of my original business plan, wasn’t going to make it. And I was realizing that, that my original limited set of services that I was going to offer, wasn’t going to be. Successful. And so Julie was hurt and it was, you know, hard for someone with a locked knee to travel on a camper van especially driving a stick shift.
So our manual transmission car. And so then that was going on and then there was some complexities with our renters. I don’t think I’ll get into too much with that, but that area was not good. In some regards and then
Julie: family issues also that were weighing on us,
Brent: There was family, extended family issues.
And so basically every single area wasn’t good. And so you know, it, in that moment you know that was actually, it turned out to be a strong blessing because I, I feel like that was a really great point for me to really connect back with, with God and my faith. And so when you’re really don’t have anything and you know, you’re just in that, in that spot, you have two choices, you can go at it alone, or you can go at it with, with your faith in your creator.
And so I kind of went back to you know, I broke through some barriers I had built up with my faith, that that position broke through that and kind of realigned me a little bit with that, more with that. And it, that it didn’t get good for months. But it, it did, those areas were very slow to improve, but like that was a turning point where I was able to at least have kind of that connection back. And so that was, that was really, really bad, low process,
Julie: I think, too, that came on after. Couple of months of us really just crossing paths for a day or two. He had been flying all over the country, going to conferences and we would just see each other for a brief day or two, and then he’s out the door again.
And so even on our side, there was just very, very low connection. We had just not had the opportunity to connect
Brent: and we really weren’t well rested too. Like we were very stressed out about situation that was going on and all of our areas and not sleeping well. So, you know, I think we, you know, we’re just, we’re not in a good spot. There,
Kathy: how did you guys navigate that? How did you get through that time? Like you said, it was not an immediate change, but it was a turning point.
Brent: Basic pretty we’re both pretty stubborn Uh, and we both have we both have short memories with transgressions, I think. Yeah. I think that that’s a strong benefit to a marriage where I think both of us, well, you know, we can get really angry at each other on certain things and be super, super off for maybe several days.
But like we, at some point we just kind of like, you know, this stuff’s really not that we’re not worth it. And we talk it over, we solve it to the best of our abilities. And then we kind of just have a lot of grace. We have grace and we see the person is a larger picture than just a transgression. That’s an unforgivable transgression kind of thing.
And so it’s kind of in my mind, That optimism and that connection and that base of knowing that this is really the right person for me. And this is really my, my, my, my forever spouse, my, the, my partner in life. That, to me covers a lot of these really strong transitions. These, these feelings of slights that are just unprocessed processable at the time.
And so kind of working through that period, I think both of us knew to a degree that we were dealing with other forces, other issues, and that that was causing it. So trying to have a less, less of a strong memory with that,
Kathy: what a good reminder too, that when we are not our best, when we’re not sleeping well, eating well if we’re physically hurting, if we’re, you know, wrestling with work, like I heard you say that you realized this initial model, wasn’t going to be the one that was going to work going forward. So like you said, all areas of your life, that then when we get in a bad mood or we’re irritable or something that it’s, it takes some insight for the other person to say, you know what?
This. Isn’t about me. But just recognizing. Mark and I had a conversation last week he was real short fused about a plumbing issue. We cannot get a plumber up in grand County for like a month and he was like, I can do it, you know? And anyway, there, there was a tipping point and I could tell he was really frustrated and it led to a good conversation of just, I could observe and say, here’s what I’m seeing.
This isn’t like you, what’s going on? And we were able to kind of untangle that a little bit and get to what was really bothering him. And it was something he didn’t want to worry me with. And I was like 41 years, honey, that doesn’t work! Like I can tell when you’re worried about something, you know, so just. Just tell me what it is so we can catch those much quicker than you these days.
And so that was a low point. What about,
Brent: and one last one last thing when we decided to start this, I think both of us knew that like, it wasn’t going to be just peaches and cream the whole time. And so, like we knew, like we knew that there would be low times and difficulties. I think it surpassed our expectations to a degree of when a lot of things weren’t working well.
But like I think we both kinda knew that we were in for a fight from the beginning. And I think for me that helped a little bit.
Julie: I think we did have that expectation that was going to be a process and it was going to be a challenge.
Kathy: Right. Yeah. And that takes a lot of maturity to even recognize that from the beginning, a lot of people just set off and, you know, That they don’t anticipate that.
So that was, that was a low point for you, Brent, was there a different low point for you Julie or was that no. Yeah,
Julie: I think I would have had a different low point. I think at that moment for Brent, I knew that was kind of his mental and heart struggle, trying to just revise what, what we were going to do moving forward. For me a low point.
Gosh, you know, I think probably when I injured my knee, I think at that point, that was just when I thought we were committed and there was really no going back at this point and to be completely unable to move or walk and in the wrong place because insurance wouldn’t do anything for me out in Illinois, unless it was an emergency.
So I think maybe just that feeling of how do I continue to move forward with this choice that we’ve made and still support Brent. That was, that was hard. I think too some of the other times, just with the extraneous circumstances, not even as much surrounding the business, I think probably unreasonably so I had a deep faith that Brent would get a it worked out. I don’t think I, I had that fear, which he certainly didn’t. I think he felt the weight of that burden on him self to make sure, but I know what a creative problem solver he is, how unstoppable he is. So I was pretty confident at one point or another, he would push through and figure it out.
So I just chose to let go of that worry. And so I think for me, low points came from other things outside of the actual business development.
Brent: I would have been more stressed. if I’d known how much faith she had on me.
Kathy: Oh. But again, that is life isn’t it, that we take off on this adventure and we don’t have control over a lot of things. So what about high points? What has been a high point since deciding to take this step?
Brent: I think there’s been a few and I think the, one of the initial high points, you know, we, we kind of, were at our, one of our lowest lowest around the first of this year where difficulties with our home, difficulties with just the business.
Like there’s a lot of spots that, that all, a lot of things were coming to a head at that point. And What ended up happening in the early part of this year is we got a year ago. Oh yeah. A year. About a year ago a year already this time, last year we got a couple contracts in that basically meant that the business was going to be feasible for a period of time for a good period of time.
And so we got, and with the nature of my business, it’s a lot of effort to get contracts, you start a year in advance and then they percolate and then sometimes they come through. And so some of these contracts they they’re, they’re a really, really big win they’re really that they’re large amounts of money.
It’s not just like a small job. It’s, it’s a large maybe potentially multi-year job. And so we got those in place and the business was finally breathing. It started, finally got breath into the business. And we got our housing situation worked out and solved and, you know, we, when we moved into our house, the pandemic was just starting.
And, you know, there was just such a sigh of relief cause our trials had gone on before that. And when we actually got back into our house, And had contracts in place. We could just breathe and work hard. And just that to me was a really high point and could just kind of like, be like, ah, you know, we, we fought the battles and we, we, we are now off and running and we took risks and they’re paying off.
And so there’s just a lot of things that came together at at the start of the pandemic last year. And then things got better. We, we got more, more contracts in and and so it kind of took off from there. And so kind of that feeling, I think for us, for me was, was really nice thing. I remember going on walks with Julie and be like, ah, you know, everything’s good now.
Julie: exactly. I think for me, it’s the small moments where, the unusual times of day where Brent and I are out enjoying a beautiful day on a walk where we couldn’t have done that before I was at a job. He was at a job or with kids, but to be able to just get up and in that moment be together, no, and maybe be planning a trip like this upcoming one to Hawaii, where we know we have the flexibility and the financial freedom to go and make it happen.
And it’s not a vacation per se. We’re not going for one week to sit on a beach and relax, we’ll have time, but we’re going for three weeks, which in some ways I think is more exciting. We’ll do a little work. We’ll do a little school, we’ll do a lot of play. And I think in that moment of planning that deciding that we’re able to do that, that’s a, that’s such a great feeling to be able to have that kind of freedom and flexibility.
Kathy: Yeah. And it’s so good to celebrate those things together. Right? I’m, I’m big about celebrations. I’m like that happened and we’re getting a bottle of champagne and I wish it was, but I wish it was a trip to Hawaii. I have been wanting to go to Hawaii for, well, I’ve been craving beach time since last year, at this time.
And then the pandemic happened so I think maybe don’t, y’all need a nanny to go help take care of the boys.
I would love to go. All right. What, we’ve talked a good bit about some of the things that you do, but I want to, I love to ask this question of couples. What are some things you do to keep the fun, friendship, and intimacy in your marriage?
Julie: you’re talking to a seven on the Enneagram, the fun and the excitement come pretty.
Kathy: Julie, what do you identify as,
Julie: Ooh, that has been the question of the what, 2 years?
Brent: Years learning about it. It’s hard. Yeah. Her, her number is elusive.
Julie: I’ll have to have a separate conversation with you. Maybe you can help me figure it out.
Brent: Yeah. I think you know, we I think we invest in each other and we’re not afraid to talk about anything and we’re, we’re super honest with each other, you know, honesty is very, very, very high, you know, anything.
Anything we can talk about anything. So like having kind of that fundamental base and then we try and go on dates together, you know Julie’s mom takes care of the kids, maybe every other Friday and we get to go on a date. Go on a lot of adventures on a lot of adventures,
Julie: whether it’s skiing into yurts, as you know about or camping, vacations, hikes, rock climbing.
I think any of the above
Brent: know, I, if I, you know, I think that that’s an area we can always improve on like keep, I keep ideas out for spending better quality time together and, address each other’s it’s just like what you were saying, like with Julie sometimes needing something and me not anticipating it as well, you know, being a seven on the Enneagram, just being like, Oh, everything’s great.
You know, why aren’t you happy all the time? It would be like, I’m so sick of you being
happy for a few minutes, continuing to work on that, you know, continuing to make to, to find connection, by anticipating each other’s needs, I think is an area where, you know, we definitely don’t have all the answers. We’re definitely not model the model a couple in that regard.
Kathy: Well, none of us have arrived.
It’s always a process. So yeah, don’t, don’t have to beat yourself up, but we’re all still learning. Yeah. Well,
Julie: knowing there’s times, like I’ve got to get out of my head. Sometimes I get too stuck in my. Where are we at? What do we need to do for the kids? What do I need to, for Brent what do I need to take care of the house?
I need that time to just slow down and stop. And then, yeah, like you said, take that self care and then I can start thinking about things like intimacy or having fun, doing an adventure. But I definitely need that decompression time. That’s essential for me, at least less for, you
Brent: Yea, no I like switch in like a second from work or back to work.
No, but yeah, no understanding that is
Julie: knowing that we’re different in that way. Yeah. Has helped.
Kathy: Yeah. Awesome. What would you share with your younger selves? If anything, from the experience that you now have after 15 years of marriage and starting this work together?
Brent: Well, I think I would say, I guess to me don’t stress about it as much. And I, I wonder if that’s impossible in that, but like the amount of stress that I’ve had on myself to perform or whatever else like it, I think, you know, as long as you’re willing to put in the work and as long as you are willing to do that, it always works out and you’re always able to solve really any problem.
But like just the stress involved with unknowns can keep you up at night and it’s not worth it. I’m saying that, but like even now I still have that problem. Like, like I can’t consciously make that switch. So that’s advice if someone can help themselves not stress and be like, ah, go to sleep, wake up in the morning.
Yeah. No, I think that’s an area. I think I’m really making sure to spend time and spend adequate connection time with your spouse is just so it’s just more important than anything and spend more connection time with your kids. And the last thing I’d say is when you do stay up all night you know, don’t, don’t lash out at your spouse or your kids and just really try and control yourself in that regard.
There’s been a couple of times where I just really not like myself because I’ve said something to my kids that they didn’t deserve. Yeah.
Julie: I think looking back, Oh, go ahead, Kathy.
Kathy: No, I was just going to ask what your perspective was. Julie.
Julie: I think looking back that I think to be careful of expectations, I think expectations can get into a lot of trouble maybe instead, relying on, just really communicating those expectations. I think where we’ve gotten in trouble is, one of us just makes some assumption about an expectation and doesn’t necessarily share that, or we find our expectations are differently or in a different place to give even just a simple practical example.
I think Brent and I maybe a month ago realized that a lot of times after work trip, we call him the same habit. He’d come back and we get into a fight. And I think after talking about it, what we both realized is we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and on the other person, okay, you’ve been gone now. We have to make up that time by doing X, Y, and Z, or by being extra focused on the other person.
We finally just said, you know, I think we end up both feeling hurt when we have this really an expectation that we’re going to do it over the top to make up for that missed time. And we just said, you know, let’s just let go of those expectations and yeah. Not try and make up for it, but just move back into our rhythm.
And I think that that has helped just realize we don’t have to be better or be hard on ourselves for a lack of, just because of the expectation,
Brent: if that makes sense. That does. Yeah, no, it’s just unrealistic, built up expectations you know, from when we’re not connected for awhile.