OMG, what a day! From the moment I opened my eyes, work descended from the heavens in biblical proportion.
No, not descended. Attacked. It rushed in like an epic swarm of monster locust.
But hey, it was Friday, a “work day.” So what’s the problem? For me, the problem was that I’d worked overtime all week. All week. Every day. Overtime. I’d planned to make Friday a day off. Understand, we live in a ski town. Mid-week ski days are built into the DNA here. And it was exactly the kind of day I wait for: fresh snow, blue skies, the ski slopes empty of the weekend crowds.
I stumbled into the kitchen for coffee. That’s when Mr. Parker hit me between the eyes. We had a situation. Things were blowing up in the UK. A promotional campaign had to be overhauled immediately. My heart sank.
It took a while to mourn the loss of my planned respite. Time to focus on the urgent task at hand.
The day was a Megillah. (That’s a technical word from ancient Hebrew scrolls.) Besides the death of my holiday, Mr. Parker had to table all of his other projects. We I spent the entire day volleying back and forth, round and round. How to revise the strategy. How to implement tactics. What executions. Writing it. Art directing it. Revising it. Fixing it. These things matter to us. They are worthy of debate. It’s why our marketing clients hire us: To. Get. It. Right.
The clock ticked. The hours passed. The adrenaline surged. At times we were at loggerheads. Our only purpose? Serving the client’s best interest.
Every day in ski season, I’m able to look out the window by my desk to see skiers riding the lift. Today, that view did not help. But, we had bigger fish to fry. This stuff had to go out the door. We had an obligation.
The day waned. The lift stopped running. The skiers went home. Hours after that, we delivered the project.
Afterwards, in the living room, we sat staring at each other. Whipped. We’d been into mental and emotional battle and survived….together. It was no longer important that the day’s plans for fun were dashed upon the rocks of professional responsibility. What was important was looking across the room and seeing My Person. This is the person for whom things matter—things like doing good work; fulfilling an obligation; and Crushing It on behalf of another guy’s bottom line. These things matter to My Person as much as they matter to me. It was once again a reminder: I am on the right team.
Hope that helps,
How does your partnership handle one of you dealing with non-business challenges?
Life’s big emotional bumps in the road challenge anyone’s business life. You can’t plan for everything that life throws your way. Lately, for us, it’s been my mother’s failing health. A slow decline over the last year and a half is becoming ever more consuming. From flying to my parents every month or so to help out, to the ever-present emotional strain of watching people you love in pain, it’s rough.
Of course, as resilient American superpeople, we’re programed to suck it up, put on a brave face, and move forward. It’s never easy. But when you’re a couple in business together, there are extra challenges—including the fact that 50% of the management team is not performing anywhere near peak ability. How does the other pick up the slack? How do you compartmentalize enough to accomplish the minimum? How do you support your partner and not get sucked into their grief?
Back when we were recording the interview that became episodes #33 & 34, we were sitting down with Murray and Felicity Gardner of the Gardner Group in Park City. Murray informed us that his mother’s health was in decline, and he could be getting a call at any moment to jump on a plane to Australia. At this point, my own mother had started going downhill. Yet, listening to the interview, you can’t tell that anyone was anything but fine. Humans are strong creatures. Entrepreneurs are stronger still.
The key for Team Parker in handling this challenging time has been communication and agreement. Communication about what’s happening, and agreement to who is now handling what. This lets us manage our expectations of each other, which is crucial, especially since it’s often just the two of us. We’ve discussed what we are and aren’t capable of taking on. Honestly confronting limitations, even temporary ones, is beyond important.
A national business training group recently asked us to deliver a series of marketing webinars. The folks in charge asked what, beyond our fee, we wanted to get from this. New clients for branding and marketing? Our answer was that our business presently lacks the bandwidth for new clients, but we’re happy to offer consulting. Why? Well, we didn’t tell them that. Let them think we’re too busy. But we’d agreed ahead of time that we can’t handle new clients right now. And that’s okay with both of us. It has to be.
At the end of the day, we know what’s most important: Us. That said, we never want to let a client down. That’s why we’re taking on only the projects we know we can deliver at a level that we feel good about and which keeps our clients thrilled. (For Slow Burn’s oldest and most demanding client, we just delivered a holiday ad that made them laugh and sign off with no changes. That’s a victory on any day, but especially now.) Even in the most challenging times, we continue to take satisfaction in ringing the bell. It’s a welcome break from the obstacles life has thrown in our way. And it reminds us who we are and why we do it.
BTW, my parents were a CoupleCo. We interviewed them in better days, and you can hear them in episode #38, "Sitcom Jewish Parents In Business."
Hope that helps.
Are Blaine & Honey Parker Relationship Experts?
Hardly. And does the world really need more of those? Instead, we are a couple who have worked together for over 20 years. We've learned a few things along the way. And now, we're traveling the nation interviewing other couples in business together. Join us for the ups, downs, ins, outs, laughs, tears (even though Honey believes Blaine has no tear ducts), and the inevitable, practical insights into being a better couple--in life, business and everything.