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Sleeping With The Boss?

A staggering number of U,S, businesses —96%— are estimated to be either family-owned or family-controlled! 


     It’s anyone’s guess how many are family operated, but the bottom line is that it takes a very special relationship or cluster of relationships to work together effectively all day, every day (even every few days!), and still maintain healthy personal lives and separate identities.  Teamwork.  Shared leadership.  Give and take.  Active listening.

     This post comes from firsthand experience. 

     My wife Kathy and I work together, eat together, sleep together and vacation together.  We’ve been doing that every day, pretty much seven days a week, for over twenty years. 

     We’ve nearly killed each other a hundred times, but neither of us would have it any other way, and we’d do it all over again if we could.    

     Noted management professor and author Harry Levinson says “The family is never free of the business; all conversation and relationships seem to be built around it.  Nor,” he adds, “is the business ever free of the family.”

     When you eat, sleep, and drink the business, it’s often difficult to separate personal issues and concerns, to live personal lives, to be preserving your relationships. 

     But keep in mind that because all behavior is a matter of choice, separating business from personal is only difficult when you choose for it to be difficult.  You can choose for it to be easy!

     In entrepreneurship development programs and family business counseling sesions I ran, I would often advise married business partners to paint or tape a brightly-colored line across the doorway to their bedrooms, and not allow any business discussions, or even business thoughts to creep in and cross the divider. 

     One couple reported they enforce a required laugh out loud –even half-hearted– as admission to cross their red lightbulb-lined (on a timer) door frame.

     I guess the thought of that is a laugh by itself, but frankly, this bedroom divider line idea is probably useful advice for any couple, regardless of career. 

     Keeping a pen and paper (and penlight!) next to the bed to record middle-of-the-night bursts of inspiration or jot down to-do lists that keep you awake should provide all the business outlet anyone should need once he or she steps into the bedroom. 

     Bedtime in the bedroom is simply not the right time or the right place to talk about sales, distribution, taxes, accounts payable, collections, irate customers, business investments, R&D projects, bank loans, marketing programs, or employee performance. 

     It’s just not, that’s all.  It’s, in fact, destructive, taxing, unhealthy, and highly stressful . . . like the negative wired-out edge you might expect to get from watching network tv news all night! 

     Besides allowing yourself to jet down, and sleep more soundly, it will help soothe your neurological system to get brainstorm ideas and troublesome thoughts down on paper, and out of your head!  And DO remember the penlight.  No one likes waking up in the middle of the night to glaring lights and her or his bed partner writing up a business storm.    halalpiar 

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One comment so far


  1. […] you and your spouse or partner are in business together, you gotta take time to read Hal Alpiar’s blog on how to make the relationship work. And how not to. Example: Bedtime in the bedroom is simply not […]

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