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Episode 250 — AMMA — Working With Your Spouse In the Business World

Ever wondered how those business power couples achieve success in their law firms and their households? Strap in for a deep dive into the intricacies of working alongside your spouse.

In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Michael and Jessica Mogill share their insights on:

  • How to provide uncomfortable yet critical feedback to your coworking spouse
  • How to address and resolve conflicting business beliefs 
  • Many more do’s and don’ts of working with your spouse
Episode 250 — AMMA — Working With Your Spouse In the Business World
Show Notes:

Effective feedback. “If you have to deliver some feedback to your spouse and you’re worried that they’re going to take it the wrong way and you work in the business together, that could put you in a very precarious position because you want things to improve or you want things to change in some way, but you’re kind of biting your tongue because you’ve got to go home with this person. I’ve found that sometimes it’s less about what you say and more about how you say it. If you know this person and you know that if you come on like gangbusters they’re gonna shut down completely and not listen to it, then maybe that’s not the right approach. The better approach would be to deliver the feedback but take the emotion out of it. Also, pay attention to the environment you’re in when delivering that feedback. If things are super high-stress and freaking out and you’re picking up the kids and the kids are screaming, it’s probably not the time to say, ‘Hey, let me tell you about something that I wish we would have done differently in the meeting.’ Instead, set aside time during business hours and address the concerns in a way that’s objective and data-driven, where you can align. If you’re working with your spouse, it’s your venture together. Make sure that you two are aligned on the actual growth of the law firm.”

Relationship balance. “I think it’s a great thing to have this type of dynamic, because if you have two people that are like ‘YOLO’, you’re going to go broke and run out of money because you’ll say yes to everything. It’s good to have the person who pumps the brakes a bit and will provide some checks and balances. Usually you see one is a bit more liberal and one’s a bit more conservative when it comes to investments in the firm, and each of them sees through a different type of lens and parameter.”

Invest wisely. “It’s important that you have clarity first on what the actual objectives are and then you can align the investments that you’re making with supporting those goals. Maybe you made bad financial decisions and lost a lot of money, so now your spouse is asking questions when they see you investing more money. Now that you finally climbed out from under that debt, who could blame them? So it’s important that you can establish a strong track record. If you don’t have a great track record, then they’re in the right to be asking these questions, and at the same time, you have to make sure that you two are in alignment at the end of the day. Both sides have to feel comfortable. You don’t want to be making decisions where one’s comfortable and one’s completely uncomfortable all the time. I don’t think that’s good for any relationship, let alone any marriage. At the same time, imagine you make a series of investments, and they continue to pay off. I can promise you that whoever’s asking all these damn questions will start to ask a lot less questions once they start to see the money piling up and they start to see those results.”

Stop trying to change them. “People see us and other entrepreneurial couples working together and everything’s going great. Then they look at their spouse and they think ‘How do I get them excited? I could really use their help.’ Here’s the thing: I don’t believe that you can get somebody excited about something they’re just not excited about. It just may not be their thing, and you’re trying to turn them into like this entrepreneur or this operator, but it doesn’t excite them. They don’t want to do it. Sometimes in law practice, you’ve got one person who loves to try cases and wants to have nothing to do with the business and then you have somebody else who loves the business side and wants to have nothing to do with trying cases. Then you have the type of person at home who wants nothing to do with the damn business, period. That doesn’t make them a bad person. They can have other strengths. There are other things that they do well. Maybe they raised your damn kids while you were out there burning the midnight oil, trying to build the business. Maybe they made sure that your kids grew up with certain brains and values. So your options are, you can either find a new spouse who is business-minded, or you can just accept the fact that it’s just not their thing, and that’s absolutely okay because chances are you married them not because they were interested in business, but because they had a lot of other great qualities.”

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