Happy Valentine’s Day to My Beautiful Wife! What 14 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me About Business FEBRUARY 2020 GIBSONLAWGROUP.COM (817) 769-4044 DIVING DOWN WITH GLG
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
About 15 years ago, I walked into a legendary Lakewood-area bar, that happened to be a client of mine, and met the woman who would change my life. At the time, a good friend of mine (who’s a judge now!) worked there, and she’d told me jokingly that one of her coworkers, an Australian here on visa, needed to get married to an American so she could keep living in the U.S. I shrugged it off until we strolled into the bar and I caught sight of this stunning, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aussie running around flirting with all the guys. Being me, I couldn’t help myself, so I walked right up to her and said, “Hey, are you the hot Aussie I need to marry to keep in the country?” To my utter amazement, that didn’t exactly sweep her off her feet. Instead, her reaction was basically, “Who is this arrogant #%&@*$ and why is he talking to me?” Still, I must have done something right because Michelle and I have now been married for over 14 years! Since both her birthday on the 13 and Valentine’s Day on the 14 are right around the corner, my lovely bride, Michelle, has been on my mind a lot lately (back-to-back gift-giving occasions!). Mulling over how great our life is together while sitting in my office recently opened my eyes to some important parallels between a successful marriage and a successful business partnership. If all of my clients put the lessons Michelle and I have learned into practice, I have a hunch I’d see far fewer lawsuits and many more peaceful resolutions. If you have a business partner, whether recent or longstanding, I’d advise taking the three lessons below to heart. You might just save yourself a messy “divorce” in court.
You wouldn’t believe how many business partnerships I’ve seen fall apart because of a lack of communication. Somehow, it has become a regular thing for two people who share an idea to meet once, chat about their concept over dinner, form a partnership, and then never talk again until one of them decides it’s time for a lawsuit. Recently, I had a case where the partners were so stubborn and dug in that they refused to even sit down in the same room. It wasn’t until they had a (very expensive) hearing in open court that they finally heard, truly heard, each other’s side of the story. After the hearing, my client, with genuine sincerity, acknowledged to me for the first time the opposition might have a point. In a marriage, couples sometimes scream and holler, but they kiss and make up, too. What gets them from fighting to forgiving is communication … and occasional gift giving. RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS In a partnership, each person brings strengths to the table. Identifying and leaning into those strengths will not only make each party happier, but it will also make the partnership more successful! This might seem obvious — if your business partner is good with numbers, for example, it might make more sense for them to handle the books than meet face-to-face with your clients — but the tricky thing is that those strengths can change over time. Keep an eye and ear out for shifts. RESPECT EACH OTHER’S OPINIONS In a business partnership or a marriage, never forget the person you’ve chosen is the one YOU’VE chosen. You picked each other, so you
need to listen to each other and respect each other’s opinions. You don’t have to jump every time your partner says jump, but the sooner you recognize you’re in this together, the sooner things will start working. Michelle isn’t my first wife, and to be honest, I think my first marriage failed in part because I didn’t take these three lessons to heart. I was young and pigheaded, and that spurred a divorce (if you’re in this same situation with your business partnership, call me now— it isn’t too late). Looking back, I can see my attitude toward marriage in my 20s versus my 50s is as different as night and day. Now, each day I feel incredibly lucky to have Michelle in my life. She has my back, looks out for me, and takes care of me even when I don’t take care of myself. More impressive still, she puts up with me! I can be a real pain, and I can’t imagine how hard I must be to live with and to love. Michelle, you are my partner in every sense of the word, and you’ve made me the luckiest man alive. Happy Valentine’s Day and happy birthday!
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