Bryan & Shannon Miles
Kathy: Hi, Bryan and Shannon Miles. I want to welcome you to the podcast, Committed the entrepreneur marriage. How are you guys doing this afternoon?
Shannon: So good. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Kathy: I am thrilled to have you as my guests. So we’re going to jump right in with a couple of questions I’ve been using recently that I think have been kind of fun and a great way to get to know you a little bit.
Okay. If, your marriage was a team sport, what would it be?
Shannon: I love this question. I don’t know if it’s a sport so much. But I kind of got the image of like whitewater rafting.
Shannon: it’s something that we actually enjoy doing, but also if you don’t yeah paddle, like you don’t put your paddle in the water when you’re going over the Rapids, you’re gonna fall out of the the boat. and our marriage definitely takes both of us, like digging in and doing stuff.
That’s the first thing that came to my mind..
Bryan: For me what came to mind is doubles ping pong, cause you ha you have to alternate shots and you have to work together to beat your opponent. And it’s just, it’s a good tandem sport, I think. And I’m good at ping pong so
Shannon: You are good. You can carry both of us!
Kathy: I love that. Okay. What is a book or a person that has affirmed your perspective in life, marriage, or business?
Shannon: The book, I think that has impacted our marriage and, and I guess affirmed it after we implemented the principles of it Is Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Pat Lencioni. It’s basically, it distills down business principles so that you can apply them to your family. With the premise of, if you ran your family with such intention, as you do your business, your families might be in a better place.
So yeah, that’s been. Really tangible for the Miles family.
Bryan: I would add to that too. That’s been a really powerful book for our family.
Kathy: I have read a lot of his work, but I’m not familiar with that one. And I think it, did it come out like in the last 10 years?
Bryan: Yeah, I think so. He, it’s funny because it’s, it’s one of those books, you know, he’s such a prolific business writer that he did this book more or less for himself and his family too.
At least that’s what he said. So, it’s come out in the last 10 years, it’s got a yellow cover. It’s a really great,
Shannon: it’s definitely not one of his most popular books. but it is. It’s very similar to his popular books in the sense it’s a fable. So his books are easy to read, you know, the cookies on the low shelf for you.
But if you’re familiar with his business work, this, this book is going to feel very comfortable to you, but also a little challenging to, to apply this to your family.
Kathy: Oh, I love that so much. And what are three words that you would use to describe the other?
Bryan: For me, I would say Shannon is very intelligent, incredibly caring and very it’s like it’s it’s.
Direct, she likes that’s concise. That’s the word I was actually trying
of hit the essence of things and not beat around the bush. And I do the older I get the more, I appreciate that. Of course you got other adjectives that are like beautiful and things like that, but I’ll stop there.
Kathy: Beautiful is always good. Right? Shannon.
Shannon: Thank you. you are very, tenacious,
Shannon: adventurous and intense. In a good way. Like when Bryan puts his mind to something, it happens and it’s been a very good thing for our family.
Kathy: And business. Right. Awesome. Okay. Tell me a little bit about what the rhythm of your family looks like currently.
Rhythm of family and work.
Shannon: Yeah, I mean, Bryan and I have been married for 23 years.
Shannon: We have definitely gone through different rhythms throughout the course of decades together, but currently we have a, almost 15 year old daughter who’s in high school and a 12 year old son who just started middle school.
And so are, we just started a new rhythm, you know, with them going back to school, face to face. So you want to share with them like every day,
Bryan: just, I mean, in the mornings we get up, we have, time with them briefly before they head out the door for school. And then, you know, Shannon, I think does a really great job to be just kind of around and available.
And I try and do the same, just kind of hearing them. I even was commenting today. I take her daughter to school. Some days it’s like a coaching session in the car with her, which is really cool because I have her undivided attention for a few minutes. And then, you know, we go through our day, we work together.
Obviously we have many different things we do throughout the day, and then they come back in the afternoon after school and they’ve got various activities or homework. And then we like to, we do our very best to have family the table together. No tech. And just engage as a family as best we can that we don’t always get it right.
Or perfect. and then generally the evening wraps up with the show we’d like to watch together or they’re hanging out doing homework or something like that. It’s, you know, it’s, we’re pretty normal in that sense of just like every family. Yeah. Coronavirus and the pandemic made it a lot more goofy.
We’re certainly I think, and I think we have a good rhythm with our family
Shannon: of four. Yeah. we’re in a good place right now.
Kathy: Are you guys working from home currently or do you go into to Belay?
Shannon: You know, it’s funny. Belay doesn’t have an office at all. We never
Kathy: So virtual.
Shannon: So from that perspective, we were well prepared for our current environment. So yeah, this is our office, you know, we sit side by side. We have freedom to move around the house a little bit, but yeah, we’ve done zoom meetings since the day zoom came out and before that it was go to meeting, you know, like we’ve just always video chatting is very much a part of our rhythm. Our meetings with our teams are almost always remote.
We do own with a partner of ours, a brewery down the road. So sometimes we’ll go there and have meetings too, which is kind of a fun place to meet over beer. Of course.
Yeah. I like the work from home thing has just been a part of our professional lives for the last decades. It feels very natural for us.
Kathy: Okay. Very good. Well, let’s jump back to the beginning. I want to hear a little bit about how you guys met and how long, you said you’ve been married 23 years. Yeah. So how did you guys meet?
Bryan: two years before this 23, we met in college. Shannon was a freshmen and I was a junior in college and we went to a small school up in the middle of Ohio, North of Columbus. and it was actually move in day. for her freshman year that, I met her, and a friend had invited her to go bridge jumping, which was something that we did cause you know, in a small town in Ohio, that’s what you do.
Kathy: I see a pattern here, bridge jumping, whitewater rafting.
Bryan: Yeah. But, so, so we, we had an opportunity to meet, That day. And that was just a really cool experience. and I I’ve, of course I was struck by how pretty she was and I wanted to spend time around her. So that was what was a pretty cool, then, but that’s how we met was jumping off bridges and we’ve been jumping off bridges ever since.
Kathy: Literally and figuratively. And so how did that lead to marriage?
Shannon: Yeah, we hit it off right away. I don’t know that either of us were looking to get married that young, but we just felt like we’re going to be together forever so why wait and, We got engaged the spring after we met. And then we got married a little over a year after that.
So in 97, and it’s funny, we don’t always share that story on podcasts, but we actually think we first saw each other even two years prior to that first, like bridge jumping introduction because Bryan was a. He worked for a lawn mowing company. And I was a waitress at, the little town, like an hour from our college.
And he said, I went in there and took it. You know, I have a lunch break from trimming, you know, cemeterys actually
Shannon: And he was like, you’re so cute. I was like, I was the only young person that worked there. So I had to be me, so I think from, you know, early on we realized we were always meant to be together.
Bryan: Intersected paths earlier than what we ever thought. And then there was another time where she was set up on a blind date with a good friend of mine. And I went with him to meet her and I thought, well, she’s cute, you know, but of
Shannon: step in or anything.
Bryan: Then of course, we met again in college and kind of connected the dots that we had intersected the past a few times before that.
Kathy: Oh, that’s funny. I can remember in college there was this idea that there was one right person for you? And I used to kind of panic over that. Like what if, what if they were on the bus? I missed the bus that day. So yeah, I guess your story is a reminder that if, you know, if your paths are intended to cross. It will happen
Kathy: Alright. So you got married in college.
Bryan: He was still in college. Shannon. Yeah. What happened was about three or four months after I met Shannon in the fall of 95, my dad developed lung cancer. And so. Kind of through a series of events. I decided the best thing to do was to basically leave school full time, work full time, and then go to school full time at night.
And then Shannon remained as a traditional student and she worked a part time job during that time as well. But kind of in that season, I already felt like a grownup that was already responsible for who I was. So, you know, it just seemed like, okay, let’s, let’s go to the next level. Let’s get married. And it was way more romantic than that got one.
It was one of those things where I was ready to kind of grow up and do grow up things and get married.
Kathy: Yeah, it’s a refreshing reminder because I meet so many young couples that they’re trying to get all their ducks in a row. They want to finish college, have a first job for 10 years, have their house paid off.
I mean, I’m being a little extreme. Yeah. But it’s like, they want all of these things done before they marry. And your marriage is an example that you learn a lot about each other going through these difficult times.yAnd, I was listening to one of your interviews yesterday. And, heard you talking about both of your, well, your dad, Brian, and your stepdad, Shannon, both developed lung cancer and died within a year.
Bryan: Yeah, I mean, it was a crazy time,
Kathy: man. I mean, that is.
Shannon: Or we had just graduated from college
Kathy: just after college. So young.
Bryan: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, looking back on that, the. It forced me to, especially it’s just to kind of grow up and just realize that, you know, no, one’s going to hand you anything.
You got to work really hard for things. And, you know, and it was a, it was a really, it was terrible seeing our fathers struggle and our families as a whole struggle through that experience. But it was something that, you know, I look back on it. And as, as, as horrific as that was for our family, I’m actually, I’m, I’m, I’m thankful.
It kind of molded me into the person and the man that I am today.
Shannon: We say oftentimes that we raised each other. I mean, really, because we were still babies like you guys were, you know, and I think that, you know, our path is our path and I, you know, I don’t know that I would recommend it for anybody else.
Like would I want our kids getting married at 19? And
I don’t know if it’s any harder, any easier. You know, like, I don’t know if you enter into your relationship 10 years after that and get married. If that means it’s going to be an easier path. I think every marriage, regardless of when you start, it is going to have struggles that you have to work through together and hopefully you can grow and learn from those experiences.
In the same way and you know, not have those divide you, but it’s not guaranteed, you know?
Bryan: Yeah. You’re taking two people that are very single minded in their own lives. It’s always up until that point of marriage has been more or less about them. And then you’re basically saying I’m, I’m dying to myself and I’m, I’m really, it’s more about you than it is me.
And that that’s, that’s a clash, but that takes a while to kind of get through that. So whether that’s what you’re 30 or 20, it’s going to happen, you have to sort that
Kathy: through. Yeah, absolutely. I’m I would agree. How long had you guys been married then when you decided to take this launch and tell us a little bit about your decision and the timing of your first business.
Bryan: Yeah, we, it was 2010 in the spring of 2010. Our kids at the time were two and five and they were, I was traveling like crazy. I was on six to eight flights a week. It was just too much. I wasn’t home nearly as much as I should. And it was a great job, but it, it was just, it just demanded that I was away. And then at the same time, Shannon had a really great job and a great career. I kind of, we kind of got this place in the spring of 2010 where we hit a tipping point of like, something’s gotta change here career wise.
Shannon: Yeah. Our kids were. Two and five at the time. And I had been with my company for a decade and I, I loved it for a long time. I learned a lot. I had three different roles in the organization that were all very different and it was a great professional experience for me.
But for the first time at that job, there was no clear next step. Like that had never happened before in a decade. So I was feeling like, okay, it’s time to make a change, but there was no next step within that organization. And it, know, it was healthcare software. And so I could have made a leap to another company that was, you know, same company or different company, same problems kind of thing.
And I just, at the end of the day, felt like that was not the change that God was calling me to. So we both at the same time and for different reasons came to a place where we were. We’re needing to wind up where we were. And in the back of our minds, we had always known, we wanted to have a business together and even have some failed attempts earlier on in our marriage to do that.
But we’re like, you know, what, if, if we’re ever going to do we do it and give ourselves some runway to fail it’s now, while we’re in our. Early to mid thirties. So that was sort of like the mindset that allowed us to feel confident to take the leave. Later that year
Bryan: I took, we took a vacation together and I was exhausted because I’ve been traveling so much, but I took a book.
It’s a story of Sam Walton, it’s called, Made in America. It’s basically how he started Walmart. And I realized in reading that book, that he was 38 years old when he started Walmart. And at the time I was 35 and I thought, well, heck if he could start Walmart at 38, you know, and I’ve, I’ve come to realize, now it doesn’t matter how old you are.
You can start a business that’s successful. But back then that gave me just enough of a nudge to say, you could do this. And so we did, we cashed out our 401ks, not advice we tell people to do.
It was $150,000 and we used that as our startup capital to fund our business. And we started that in December. Of 2010 after doing a lot of due diligence over about six months saying, okay, let’s get our ducks in a row. Let’s talk to really smart revisers and business people let’s really make sure this is a wise move and a calculated decision.
And then we gave our notice October 1st of 2010.
Kathy: Okay. So you’re betting if you will talking to other business people I’m assuming, or were these family members or what type
Bryan: Family and friends thought we were nuts. Nice job with babies and do this and the height of the great recession.
Bryan: Yeah. So we did, we didn’t have a good answer for them, but when we told our ideas to people who are successful in business, and that had proven track records in business, they all thought it was a great idea.
especially one bought one person in particular basically said, you need to quit your job and go do this. And, and a lot of that too, we’ve come to realize. And it’s just one of those things that, you know, people who are business owners, the lens in which they operate is different than a person that receives a paycheck.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just the lens in which we’ll view they have is entirely different. So we’d lead into that and that, that season, and it was really helpful for us. ,
Kathy: there’s something, a little something to the wiring. I think of a person we’ll get into that, hopefully in a little bit.
So this first business, you said that you had tried a couple of businesses prior to that.
Bryan: We did, we tried one and it, it was way back. Let’s see, would’ve been in 2002, we tried to start a mortgage company and, it just did not work for a myriad of reasons. We had the wrong leader in place. We put it in the wrong location.
There was just. Yeah, it just was a blood bath in that sense. So we lost about $40,000 and we continued to work for other people.
Shannon: Fortunately, we didn’t quit our jobs to start that one so we could bounce back pretty quickly. But yeah, but we definitely, and it’s funny, Brian’s mom even told him few years ago.
You know, when he was a kid he wanted, he didn’t want to work for anybody else. He, he wanted to have his own business and I think. That speaks to the wiring. I don’t know that that would have been the case for me. Had I not met Brian and our lives become one. He was much more willing to take the risk and, and had the, the fortitude for it.
And we had been married long enough and, you know, had different professional careers. And I could see his strengths that you would be contributing to the business that I felt comfortable, but yeah, just wiring. He’s definitely more. Entrepreneurial minded for sure.
Kathy: Okay. I am really interested to hear about the fact that you’re both in the business, you helped start it. You were completely invested in it. I think you’re the first couple that I’ve interviewed so far that are co-founders. All of my other ones, one person is the entrepreneur and the other supports them, but they’re not in or part of the business.
So I would love to hear early on how did you guys sort out your roles and what each of you, were going to be responsible for.
Shannon: We hear that a lot. Like I can never work with my spouse. There’s no way, like, I’m glad they’re doing it, but not for me. I, you know, it’s just, he wanted to be a hundred percent in this thing together.
So. We had to figure out pretty early on what our lanes were. And fortunately, God’s wired us different, but different personalities, gifting, leadership styles that are complimentary to each other. And so. I think we’ve probably gone through about three different iterations of our roles within Belay, as the business grew and evolved as its own entity.
but yeah, early on defining those roles was really key.
Bryan: We’re incredibly different people, you know, and that’s, you know, Whereas they used to be annoying in the beginning. It’s actually celebrated now, but we are two different people and that’s great. And it also comes that way in terms of leadership or skillset.
So the default to her is really natural for me now, like, especially in areas of operation or legal things, you know, like she’s just got a mind that she’s wired for that. And, and I’m, I’m more a sales, marketing vision. Out ahead, you know, 18 months out looking at what’s next, that type of thing. And she does a good job, to default to me there.
So I think we just know each other’s lanes rather than try and have that be something that’s competitive. We just default to it naturally and say, Hey, this is your gifting. Whatever you say, that’s what we’ll do. And you know, it didn’t, it’s not like you just stay one, figure that out. It took us a while to realize our strengths and, you know, because she had a really great career and I had a really great career before we started this thing.
So the way I approached it in the early days was I knew cause she was sharing with me a complexity around what she did before we started our company. So I thought, wow, that’s the type of person I’m going to get the opportunity to work with on a day to day basis.
Kathy: If I don’t hire her, I’m going to have to hire someone else
Bryan: for sure.
Yeah. But I mean, the experience she brought to the table and like, this is, I’m fortunate to work with a person like that. And, you know, I carried my own set of skill sets to the business. . I think, you know, just, just appreciating and acknowledging that, you know, Your, your spouse in this case, as your partner in business is probably well more equipped to answer a question or to do that particular aspect of the business than you are. It frees you up to stay focused on the things you’re best at
Kathy: so early on, there were probably challenges.
There always are in a startup. How long was it before you knew that this business was viable?
Bryan: Well, we didn’t have any challenges at all. I mean, we were,
Kathy: your nose is growing Bryan!
Shannon: Everybody’s like, man, I’m not going to listen to this.
Bryan: No, I think that the reason why they refer to early startup or as early struggle is because that’s what it is. That’s meant to be early struggle. Every business has a season of early struggle and. It’s fraught with, you know, changes and okay, we were going this direction and we’re going this direction and the market doesn’t want this product.
The market wants this product, the pricing’s off. You’d have to there’s this myriad of things you have to kind of iron out. And if you lose your business, if you don’t pay attention and shift. And so with that just came a season of kind of turmoil. You know, I remember being in 2012, so, you know, a year and a half and having what I thought was a heart attack and I was stressed out and.
Yeah, there was a, our kids got sick during that time. And our health insurance was a hot mess because we were starting our company we were funding all that. And I just, no, ultimately I didn’t have a heart attack. I just was thoroughly stressed, but I had to get to a place for me personally, where I had to say, okay, I’m going to have to start really yielding up and delegating things that I’ve been holding on to.
And that was definitely a pivotal moment for me as a leader in our business.
Shannon: I think when we knew we really had something is when the business started making money, like we had invested our 401ks to fund it and we could see that. Balanced depleting over time. And so it wasn’t until we like started to turn a profit.
We were like, okay, we might actually, I something here, you know? Cause like a lot of entrepreneurs in the beginning, you try a lot of things. Cause you have ideas of what will work, but until you go to market with something you don’t know for sure if anybody’s going to buy your idea or if they, you know, or if you have to modify, as we tried several things early on, it just didn’t work.
They were not viable. but it didn’t mean that the business wasn’t viable. It meant those offerings weren’t viable. So we just doubled down on what was working and really started with to get some good momentum around 14 months
Kathy: in about 14 months. Okay. Okay. I hear from several entrepreneur couples that are in that early stage.
And they’re worried that either the business or their marriage, isn’t going to make it. And again, these are couples where they’re not both in it as you guys are and were. What are some things that you did in your marriage to buoy it up, to strengthen it, to keep communication open and not take out this frustration on each other.
Shannon: We have something that, I don’t rememberif you came up with this or you read it somewhere, but we’ve implemented it in our business yes. In our life. And it’s been really helpful. And it’s the concept of sitting on the same side at the table when you’re addressing an issue or a problem. So as opposed to, like you said, taking your frustration out on one another.
You might be facing a couple or a problem as a couple or in the business that you need to literally like have an illustration and take it and put it on one side of the table. And then the two of us sit on the other side of the table and say, how are we going to tackle this together? And that redirects the negative energy from coming out it against each other to let’s channel that, to solve a problem. And you’re not the problem. And I’m not the problem. That’s the problem over there on the other side of the table.
Bryan: . We never started a business. without being like the eventual outcome. Our eventual outcome is to have a great marriage.
And so the business just helps support that and our family too. Yeah. You know, we’re what we’re aiming at as far past successful business or companies, it’s, you know, we’re happy and we’re together and we’re healthy. And we’re in our seventies and eighties and our kids are grown adults and they like each other and they’re contributing to this world in a good way.
And we all have a good family relationship. We have the financial means to be able to do things like that. A business is a vehicle for that to happen. But we’ve just chosen that the things that we’re aiming at are way past what a company or a business can be.
Kathy: Yeah. I have sought out couples like you guys, because that is the drum that I beat all the time.
I am very convinced that you can have a successful business and marriage. And yet we hear so often. Or we see modeled, or we hear stories of say Steve Jobs, incredibly brilliant, creator, entrepreneur. I love all of my Apple products, but at what cost.
Kathy: And I think we believe sometimes, too often,that, that you have to sacrifice your ,family.
If you want to have a successful business. So that is part of why I chased you guys down and found you. And I want that story to be part of other couple’s, successful family.
Bryan: I for, yeah, definitely. I think that it’s just easy to accidentally prioritize something that feels so big, like a business. And make that the priority and make that the universe when the reality is that ultimately the things that you’re striving for in life are more relational and healthy in that sense.
And a business is just simply a vehicle to pull that off. And I think that when you rightsize that, or you reprioritize that as a, as a couple, and you’re both getting alignment over that, I think that you’re, you’ll iron out and you’ll make better decisions for your business. That becomes more of a lasting solution for your family.
Shannon: And we had to decide early on like what the worst case scenario would be. And that was really helpful for me to get over the hurdle of deciding to start this together because I thought, okay, let’s see what if we invest all this money and it fails and we lose all of our retirement. Okay. Can we rebuild?
As long as our marriage is intact and our kids are healthy, like. I’ve lived in a trailer before I could live in a trailer. Again, it’s not that, you know, like the worst case scenario, isn’t, isn’t, you know, financial, it would be like, would we be okay? And I, and we got to the point and we’re like, no, we can work through this.
You know, we, we can weather a failed business and still keep our marriage intact. If that’s the worst thing that happens, we’re going to be okay.
Kathy: Yeah. And that is a helpful exercise. Isn’t it? To, to process what is the worst case scenario? You don’t want to live there, but if you look at it and go through that exercise, like you said, Shannon, I’ve lived in a trailer. I can do it again. It’s not the end of the world, but I would live in a tent with you versus live in a mansion without you and not everyone is that intentional.
Bryan: Well, you know, I I’ll be honest. I, we meet a lot of business owners that they will start a business and with no end in mind, like, they’ll say.
You know, I don’t know what I would do with my business. I don’t know if I’d sell it. I don’t know if I would give it to my kids. I don’t, you know, and you just don’t operate like that. Shannon. I’ve always approached business to say, we start a company and here’s the outcome. And we all, every, we, we now own several businesses and every one of those has got an outcome connected to it that we’re aiming at all for the purpose of benefiting the family and for us, and they support what we’re doing.
As a, as a relationship, not just because we want to have a bunch of companies, like there’s, there’s an intent behind the ownership. And I, I would challenge any business owner, especially in business couple that’s in business ownership that they need to decide what they want to do with their businesses, because they’re gonna more than likely outlast that business itself.
Kathy: Yeah. Let us into the mind of Bryan and Shannon. And what does it look like when you’re processing your next business? You guys started about a year, year ago. Is that right? Your brewing company
Shannon: and opened yeah, a year ago. We started prior to that.
Kathy: Okay. And then you’ve launched. Own Not Run
Bryan: that’s right.
Yeah. And that’s a content company to help business owners enjoy the freedom of owning their companies versus becoming a slave to it. and then we, we are we’re we invest in some real estate. We have a holding company called miles ag where we, you know, we invest in other entities and Shannon and I sit on a handful of boards for companies and so forth.
We’re fairly active people, business wise,
Kathy: Oh, the mind of an entrepreneur never rests. I know that for sure fact. Yeah. So what, what are the conversations like or what are the questions that you ask when you’re pursuing something like the brewing company or, Own Not Run.
Shannon: That, the impetus for the new companies that we either create ourselves or get involved in, usually.
Primed to solve a problem. Like Belay is a virtual services company that solves problems for growing organizations. but it is vastly different than NoFo Brew co, which
Bryan: solves a problem.
Shannon: It solves a problem and post pandemic. People are thirsty, I guess we’re still in it mentally. I’m over it.
But anyway, that’s we would constantly go out to restaurants in our community and think man, why isn’t there a cool place to hang out? Like somebody should really create a place where you could go on a date and get dressed up and like, do something cool. Somebody should do that. Right. So nobody did it.
And we’re like, okay, we’re ready for our next thing. You know, we had been able to replace ourselves in a lot of different capacities at Belay, giving us a little bit more mental freedom to dream again. And for the brewery, we found a partner that was very passionate about craft beer and really spearheaded the effort so that we could own not run that business. And it was meeting a need in our community to provide something that we are, our family would enjoy. And so many other families have come to enjoy it too. Like we were just there today doing some, some work and a guy came in and he’s like the Norm of the bar, right?
So we met him the first time. I shouldn’t say the bar, thanks. This is my neighborhood hangout spot. And we’re like, that’s exactly why we did it.
Bryan: Yeah. You know, not all risk is qualified. You know, I think that, you know, encouraging people to really do the hard math, do the complex thinking if this is a risk, that’s really worth it.
And looking around the corners, oftentimes. You know, business owners, they want to play a game of checkers, not chess, meaning, you know, it’s not the decisions you make are not face value. Decisions are so much this wrapped around in complexity around it. And just looking past point a to point D or point F is very important.
I think when you’re looking at risk. And so that’s what we’re doing through our holding company is we just, we qualify. These are things that would really make sense to kind of meet the criteria for how we would invest.
Kathy: When we talked about defining your roles early on, I, my mind went to assessments, personality assessments, and profiles. You guys recently did a couple of posts about the Enneagram. And so I’d like to camp there for a few minutes. When did you start doing the Enneagram and were there other assessments that you did prior to that?
Shannon: Yeah. I was a double business and psych major in college. So I have always loved personality tests. and I think the prevailing one back in the day was Myers Briggs. so that was probably the first one we did as a couple. got a lot of value out of that. I think then the next wave of personality tests that we applied to our.
Ourselves and our businesses was DISC. It was a helpful tool as well. And then, you know, most recently the prevailing winds are behind the Enneagram. I think I first came across it three years ago or so. when a friend of mine recommended it, she was actually my college roommate and co psych major! She had come across it through Richard Rohr’s work and, I just thought it was the most accurate depiction personality that I have come across. It’s funny. I I’ve typed as different things though, which is kind of interesting, but yeah, yeah. In part, because I think we. I don’t know. I answer questions as I, as I think they should be sometimes instead of really like going back in and getting to like natural tendencies, I can adapt pretty quickly.
And so I think I, I skew results sometimes because in this like high achiever mode and I’m like, I’m a three for sure. I’m a three and then I’d take it. And I was like, wait, my motivation isn’t always to win. So, I don’t know, it’s gone through definitely some, some changes there, but it’s been a really helpful tool for Brian and I both.
Kathy: What, what do you identify with currently? Shannon
Shannon: seven, the enthusiast
Kathy: seven. Okay.
Shannon: Yeah. And I think mostly because my, my motivator is to be happy and that looks, that can change over time, what it takes to be happy. And I definitely find myself leaning more toward that number than any other one.
And you, Brian.
Are you a D on the DISC?
Bryan: Pardon me?
Kathy: On the DISC
Bryan: High D, High I. Yeah. And on Myers-Briggs I’m an INTJ.
Shannon: All right. And I’m opposite , ENFP ‘ a high S on the DISC. Like we’re always just, there
Bryan: we’re two very opposite people, which was great, you know? Yeah.
Bryan: likely my house would be very boring if we were both the same
Shannon: or no challenge each other,
these, you know, awareness of personalities and like being aware that we are very different personalities early in our marriage was a source of frustration. Why can’t he just see things the way I see them? Why don’t we approach situations the same way? Why is our communication style so different? But through, you know, a lot of years together and really working hard in different counseling sessions and things like that, we stopped trying to make each other, the other person, and that made all the differences sounds so obvious.
And so, you know, elemental right now, but that was transitional for us. And. Some of our biggest frustrations were around when the, we were trying to behave in a way that was incongruent with our personality, just to make the other person happy. So when we let that go, and gaveeach other freedom to be who we are that alleviated a lot of tension in our marriage.
Kathy: I see that a lot in marriage that we think if someone loves me, they’re going to be just like me or they’re somehow going to read my mind and just know what I need. And that’s where I see the benefit of assessment tools. And as you said, you’ve used at least three, we’ve done the same thing.
I’m trying to think if there’s others, we’ve probably done. what was the StrengthsFinder
Shannon: piece? Yeah, I
Kathy: find that more helpful with like a team. I can’t even remember my top five, so I, I can’t remember someone else’s, but we also, we dug pretty deep into the DISC. because I, I got certified in that several years ago to work.
we used it as part of our hiring process in our business. But then we discovered the Enneagram and what I liked so much about the Enneagram is looking at your shadow side. The part that we don’t always want to see or are even aware of. And it’s so important in leadership to know these parts of yourself that are not so shiny and bright. It’s where we become more whole and more wholehearted as Brene would Brown would say. Curious about, so you discovered it the Enneagram three years ago. If you had that tool, when you started the business, do you think there’s some benefit you would have gained from knowing all of those, like what you do under stress, which is different for each of you?
Shannon: I, you know, when we first started the business, we used DISC,and there’s a corollary, I think in DISC, That you could speak to, way, way better than I could, but the whole concept of your natural and adaptive, you know, how you, if you have to live in your adaptive number for too long in your role, then you’re, you’re going to burn out and it’s not sustainable.
and so the Enneagram. I think the correlation is, yeah. How you show up under stress. Like a seven goes to a one, because the house is finally clean and cause I’m stressed out and that’s like the one thing I can control. So I, I think that regardless of the tool that an organization uses, I think it is imperative that organizations use personality tests with their leadership team at a minimum.
And ideally as part of their hiring. And in the placing process, I think that you can head off a lot of bad matches or bad placements. at the past, if you are more aware of your team member’s personalities. One thing that we’ve started using recently too at Belay is, work by Kathleen Edelman. It’s The Temperaments, and there is a book that goes along with it.
That’s,” I said this, you heard that”. And it gets into it’s a, it has a little bit of a DISC feel in terms of four different quadrants and colors and all that, but it’s. It’s almost like a blend for lack of a better word of DISC and Enneagram. So that’s been a really interesting tool to use with our, our Belay team as well.
Cause it it’s a little bit more, descriptive, I think in a lot of different areas.
Kathy: That sounds like a great tool. I’ll add that into the show notes. Have you found people in the hiring process or, or people on your leadership team maybe that are like, I, I don’t believe in this personality stuff. It’s Woohoo.
And I don’t want to be put in a box. How do you address that?
Bryan: Yeah. I mean, they don’t get to work here. I mean, that’s, that’s how we address.
It’s an important filtering tool. I don’t think it’s the the end all be all. But if you want to work here, you have to kind of put up with our systems and processes for how we’ve established it for hiring. I would say that there is one caveat to all of them, is that the person, and that says, well, you know, I’m a high D so deal with it or I’m a high I, and that’s just the way, no, that means that you get the opportunity to grow just like everybody else.
So you can’t hide behind your number or your label. You have to be human. so we, you know, I think we do a good job to say like, Hey, this is an important part of our hiring process and you’re not to use it as an excuse. but it’s been very helpful for our business and we’ve learned insights in our teams and we’ve learned how to respect each other more, you know, through using tools like disc or any gram.
Kathy: And if you’ve done several, you do begin to see there’s an overlap, which to me is a validity measure when you see it over and over. Awesome. Okay. I want to shift, towards the end of our interview here and ask about mentors. Have you guys had a business mentor or a group that you’ve been part of, like EO or something?
Bryan: We’ve we’ve hung around people in EO. We’d never participated in EO, but we, we do, we have business mentors that have guided us over time. typically they are a season or two ahead of us. Hmm. you know, they’ve, I have a lot of gray hair, but they have more,
Kathy: they have no hair.
Bryan: but, yeah, we’ve, we’ve been very fortunate to get in the damage path of other successful business owners and ask them meaningful questions and they’ve cared about us and invested time in us and kind of coached and guided us throughout the way.
And. And we’ve also then done the same thing we paid it forward with, you know, business men and business women who have similar backgrounds or, or, you know, faith philosophies and all that. And we walk alongside them where it seems appropriate to. So we, we definitely want to pay it forward in
Yeah, early, probably a couple of years in the business, I joined C 12 and then it converted to a different type of group called, called for. and that definitely served a purpose during that season, for sure. But as of late, our key business advisors come from our family office. We run a lot of opportunities by them and, they help us.
Think through the longterm impact of starting new organizations or investing in ones that other people have started or, you know, big decisions around the organization. So that’s probably the group currently that we lean into the most heavy right now.
Kathy: Okay. And did those advisors mentors, do you talk to them about your marriage also?
Or do you have separate advisors that are relationship or,
Bryan: yeah, that’s a great question. I like to say that not all mentors are created equally, you know, like we, we approach a mentor it’s because they’re looking for a specific piece of advice, you know, like on, we’re not going to go ask, you know, a mentor that’s been married three times how to have a successful marriage.
They’re not the right person to ask that question to. We’re going to go there, but they will have a lot of great things to say about a successful business. Right. They’re just not all equal in that sense. So, you know, we’re typically going to go ask other ones that we think are qualified in those areas or arenas.
Kathy: Gotcha. You guys have been wonderful guests. Is there anything else that you would like to share before we wrap up today?
Bryan: I would just say it’s incredibly rewarding to walk alongside a, a person that you love and then create a business or businesses together. Like, I had no idea. I only guess what it could be before.
And now 10 years of doing this together. I’m so grateful for this experience. And I think that if you’re aiming at a great marriage and that’s your, that’s your focus, you’re headed then all the other stuff will line up because you’re, you got your priorities straight and where you’re headed. And it’s incredibly rewarding to see a business kind of fueled as a vehicle of that.
But having a lasting marriage I think is far more important. and I’m incredibly grateful to be in a position where, God’s been really kind to us, but also, we’ve done the hard work as a couple in order to do, achieve the things that have been put out there for us.
Shannon: That’s so sweet!
I just want to say thank you for the work that you’re doing.
It’s lonely as an entrepreneur and yes, you can seek out mentors and yes, you can be part of EO and have organizations that, they support you in different ways. But the work that you’re doing to really talk about the intersection of entrepreneurship and marriage is so important and I think more and more couples are gonna start companies.
And so the, the research that you’re doing now and the resources that you’re pulling together to support them is going to have a lasting impact. So thanks for letting us be a part of it.
Kathy: Wow. I’m, I’m deeply honored and grateful. Thank you guys. So
Bryan: thank you. Bye bye.