How to Pick Yourself Up by the Bootstraps Day After Day

Phew, this is a tough topic, in my opinion. Sometimes life as an entrepreneur is amazing. Everything is going your way. You are on top of the world. Everyone wants to snuggle up next to you and your neighbors want to be you.

And then . . .


I always say, if entrepreneurship was for everyone, then everyone would do it. Obviously, that’s not the case. You need a soul of steel somedays to withstand and endure the wild roller coaster of business ownership.  I will never forget several years ago sitting at an awards dinner with my husband (which we won btw). We had just come off of a crazy day with about 3 major highs and an equal number of major lows (business wise). We joked at the time about the crazy day we had just endured and how this lifestyle is definitely not for everyone. A friend recently said she and her husband use the phrases, “I’m killing it / it’s killing me” to describe business ownership and sometimes multiple times a day. I loved that!! So, with the constant volatility of entrepreneurship, what are some techniques to pick yourself up from your bootstraps to persist, persevere and continue to pursue your passion?

  1. According to research via Harp Family Institute, 3 ways entrepreneurs healthfully deal with stress is to, exercise, talk it through, and change your environment. I have taken this to heart and have adopted what I call the “walk and talk”. Just when you’re about to bang your head against your desk or punch your computer, find someone around you and take a walk. Long, short, fast or slow, it doesn’t matter. Choose a topic to discuss. It can be about work if you need to orally process, or it can be about the latest tv show or movie you have seen. By changing your environment, talking and walking, you are essentially accomplishing all 3 of the top stress releasers recommend in one activity.
  2. Choose an amazing life partner! This may seem obvious, but its really not. In order to regularly feel like you’re not entirely alone in the world, it’s best to have a spouse or life partner who is able to make lemonade out of lemons on a regular basis with you. Don’t leave him/her in the dark. Keep your partner appraised of your ups and downs. That said, find out how much they can actually handle and try to work within those parameters. HFI data shows that spouses can take a great deal more than entrepreneurs believe. Have the conversation and let your spouse know how you want them to respond when you’re sharing about the business. When you share an ‘it’s killing me’ moment, do you just want to vent or actually get their feedback?
  3. Sleep. I know as entrepreneurs you want to feel like you’re invincible super heroes all of the time, but even most super heroes need sleep. Study after study shows the importance of getting a good night of sleep. Give in and allow yourself 8, 9 maybe even 10 hours!
  4. Give yourself permission. This may seem odd, but sometimes giving yourself permission to take a few hours or even a day off will free your mind to solve the problem at hand. Day in and day out you give of yourself, your time, your energy, your everything. We are human and we do need to recharge. Allowing time to yourself will often heal the fissure you feel from the constant beat down of business ownership.
  5. Find a simple task to complete. During your day, you are likely bombarded with a million major fires and problems to solve. I often talk about how packing an overnight bag or deciding what to eat for dinner feels monumental after a long day of decision making. Find something brainless and simple to do, like doing the dishes, making your bed, or a certain repetitive action in a video game. The sense of completion you will feel from even doing a menial task can help heal your bruised psyche.
  6. Self talk. What we tell ourselves on a daily basis matters. Sometimes when we are surrounded by, what feels like dishonorable people, reminding ourselves that we would rather be an honorable soul can help. Sadly, in the business world, as in life, not everyone operates at the same level of loyalty and honor. And it is frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard to always DO THE RIGHT THING. But know, even if it means you get screwed over sometimes, you probably couldn’t live with yourself if you didn’t live as honorably as you do. For the duplicitous a** holes out there, well, just try to feel sorry for them. For they most likely live a challenged and miserable life behind closed doors. (I think this may end up being a whole blog post for another day)!
  7. Read. Fiction, non-fiction. Whatever works. It’s great to choose books (or movies) about people who were down and eventually “made it”. Stories like those about Walt Disney and other entrepreneurs who tried, and tried, and tried, and tried and only when they thought it a lost cause, finally made it. Those are my super heroes! Tenacity. Perseverance. Souls of steel!
  8. Recognize that stuff is just stuff. Houses, cars, jewelry, boats, planes and all of the great things that come with having money are only great if you have someone to share it all with. Sometimes it’s easy come, easy go with this lifestyle. Make sure you try to surround yourself with friends and family who won’t bail on you if times get tough. Ask yourselves, how far are we willing to go and how much are we willing to risk? Set limits and try your darnedest to keep them. What would happen if you had to sell the house and move to an apartment? Still together or not?
  9. Hug a child or a pet. Sometimes we just need a little unconditional lovin’ in our lives. Although our spouses and partners can offer love and support, its just feels different when its coming from someone who doesn’t really understand just how much pressure you are feeling not to let them down. No kids or pets in tow? Buy a large stuffed animal or a weighted blanket and put in on your chest. There’s a reason they use them for individuals with disabilities. They are amazingly comforting.
  10. Practice gratitude. When life gets you down, make a list of everything you are grateful for. Come up with as many things as you can think of and share it with your partner. Recognizing how much we have in our lives can  put the down moments into perspective and help propel us forward. Sometimes it also helps to make a reverse gratitude list. How much worse could it be? Then be grateful it’s not that bad!

    Recently we started watching Little House on the Prairie with our kids. Aside from the tremendous amount of “teachable moments” the show provides, I love watching how Pa literally has bootstraps on his boots. A great deal of the literature review for my Master’s Thesis was on farm families because in many ways, they were the original entrepreneurs. Every time I watch Pa and his bootstraps I am grateful for how far we’ve come!

How do you pull yourself up from your bootstraps?

Does Money Buy Happiness: The Entrepreneur’s Conundrum

As the Beatles song clearly states, “money can’t buy me love”. Ok we get that, but can it buy happiness? As an entrepreneur, a significant part of the end goal of any venture is money. Whether the goal is just to make enough to survive and provide for your family, or whether the goal is to exit your company and become independently wealthy, either way, money obviously plays a role in every business owner’s endeavor. But does it buy happiness?

Researchers have been looking at this question for decades and from several different angles. In 2010 researchers at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School published the results of a study that found when someone makes over 75K a year, their happiness index doesn’t change as their income increases.

In my own, Harp Family Institute research, I used a different financial measurement and discovered similar results, but with a 100K income.

So, the question is, how, as entrepreneurs can we reconcile all the hours of hard work, the stress that comes with being the boss, the potential loss of family and friends around you due to the blinders you put on in your quest for an extraordinary life?

One answer is that at an entrepreneur’s core, the quest for happiness (as other’s define it) is not your ultimate end goal in life. There is something deeper in your soul that drives you. Is it respect? Is it power? Is it knowledge? Is it the desire to leave a legacy? The answer is not a simple one and perhaps it’s a combination of a multitude of factors, but one thing is for sure, the quest for happiness is not the number one motivator within an entrepreneur.

When I first met my husband, I made a comment about how content I was was. His response to my comment shocked (and dismayed) me. He said, “That must be nice. I don’t know if I’ve ever been truly content.” We went on to discuss this in detail, but at the end of the day, he generally always feels more can be done, and thus, feels a sense of discontentment at all times.

About a decade later, I was interviewing a man with a net worth of roughly 300M. I asked him the question, “What does it feel like to have ‘made it’?” His response also shocked me. He told me that an entrepreneur has never really made it, regardless of how much money they have, because there is always something more to do. They are always thinking about what else they can do . . .

I add the ellipsis at the end of the sentence because this is how I now view the true entrepreneur, there isn’t an end. Going out and getting a job that pays $75K IS NOT AN OPTION. Not because it’s not enough money to survive, but because the job, as millions of people around the world view it, isn’t even going to begin to scratch the itch of a true entrepreneur.

They need more. They crave more. In their souls, the drive, or as my dad used to call it, the fire in their bellies, isn’t really motivated by money, but by something much deeper. Money is merely the icing on the cake. It’s what people see. What people attribute to business ownership. Don’t get me wrong, having money is great. It’s amazing to be able to do and implement what you conceive of.

But for entrepreneurs, it’s about so much more . . .

Me | You A 52 Week Guide Toward Making Appreciation Simple and Habitual at the Office

If you read my previous blog post, after I published the first book, I thought, why stop with marital relationships. . . let’s bring it to the office! After all, research shows that when a business incorporates a value-based recognition system—a program that specifies ways to show appreciation for its employees’ work and contributions—there is less turnover, higher employee engagement, and an increase in the bottom line. So I made one to try out at your office as well!

Coming soon: Sex and Intimacy
Parents and Children


Me | You A 52 Week Guide Toward Making Appreciation Simple and Habitual

I was talking with a friend a few months ago about someone who is married to a wonderful man who is on the autism spectrum. She mentioned that her friend has to give very clear directives to her husband. For example, the day before her birthday she may say, “Tomorrow is my birthday. I would like a piece of jewelry, a cake with a candle and a great kiss!” I looked at my friend and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we all asked for things that clearly?”

Sooooo, I wrote a book that encourages couples to

1. Do things for each other they wouldn’t necessarily do without prompting.

2. Teaches couples more about what really resonates with their partners and what doesn’t.


3. Hopefully eradicates the potential defensiveness that comes with nagging!

Check it out and tell me what you think!

The Importance of Viewing Your Marriage from a Team Perspective

When we get married, the idea (or hope, or goal) is that we no longer feel alone. Regardless of the ups and downs that time may present, you have a partner, a confidant, a teammate every step of the way. Perhaps you may not always agree on an issue or a decision you have to make, but the concept that you are a team, first and foremost will help guide you through the challenge of your disagreement.

For example, some friends of mine were struggling with a variety of issues, including some parenting decisions. They found themselves constantly fighting, so they decided to go for therapy. One afternoon (several session in) the therapist stopped them mid-fight and said, “STOP!! Just stop! You’re on the same team here. . . the same side.” Just hearing those words sent ‘aha’ shock waves through them. They were able to re-convene their discussion from the perspective of, ‘at the end of the day, we both want what’s best for our child,’ thus we ARE on the same team. It was amazing how well they worked together to come up with possible solutions vs. fighting each other and making the other feel a need for defiance.

As entrepreneurs, at the office, typically, what you say . . . goes. But you didn’t get married to be the boss of your spouse. . . you are equal partners. Sometimes it is difficult to step back from your role as the boss and accept that you are equal partners in your home life.

It can be equally as challenging for a spouse who has become accustomed to deferring to the entrepreneur to find/ hold on to his/her own voice. We will continue this thread throughout other blog entries, but the foundation to all of this is the consistency of acknowledgement that you are on the same team.

Finding “Alone” Time: How to uncover it, embrace it and hold on to it

This morning I was talking with a friend about the elusive luxury of time. Between work, business ownership, family, friends, volunteer endeavors and everything in between, sometimes just finding 5 minutes of time to oneself seems nearly impossible. Below are a few tips on how to find, embrace and hold on to a few minutes of time alone.

1. One way to get some more alone time is to simply ask for it. Maybe it seems simple or maybe it seems incredibly hard to be a little selfish, but we all need it, crave it and want it. When you’re in a partnership with someone else, whether at the office or at home, simply saying the words, “I think I/we would benefit from figuring out how to create some alone time for me. Lately I’ve been feeling _______, and I think I just need to take some more time for myself.” Then, work together to make that happen. (Below are some ideas you can implement.)

2.  If you have children, plan for some extra time to sleep in one weekend day each week. Trade off with your partner. For example, you get Saturday until 12 to yourself and your partner gets Sunday until 12 to his/herself. That way you can stay up a bit late the night before nine watching your favorite tv show. . . guilt free!

3. Take a bath/shower. . . alone! Growing up, my mom used to lock herself in the bathroom for what felt like forever (it was probably more like an hour) to take a bath. She would come out looking like a lobster, but she was always calmer and more relaxed afterwards. Be sure to lock the door and get support from your partner so you don’t get any surprise visitors!

4. During your day, find between 5 – 15 minutes to just close your eyes and breathe. If you can’t close an office door, go out to your car and put the seat back. If you’re afraid you are going to fall asleep, set an alarm on your phone. Just resting the mind for a few minutes each day helps decrease anxiety and increase productivity.

5. Before you walk in the door at the end of your work day, spend 5 minutes in the car thinking about something you love about what’s waiting inside for you. (Your spouse, your children, a hug, a beer, a glass of wine, your favorite tv show on the DVR etc.) Allow yourself to smile and loosen the muscles in your face. Regardless of the wonderful or miserable day you have just had, taking those 5 minutes to “pre” appreciate your home life will work wonders toward feeling a little more at peace.

6. Hire a “young” babysitter on the weekend to offer some relief. Put the feelers out that you’re looking for a “mommy’s helper”. This is generally someone age 9 – 14 who will come and play with your children while you are home. This is a great way to get some extra time on the weekends to do what you want . . . and bonus. . . they usually only charge $5 – $7 an hour. Sometimes one hour is all you need.

7. When you do find some time, don’t fill it with something you hate doing. . . like laundry. Give yourself permission to be carefree for a while. Do what you love. Paint, scrapbook, play a video game, read, watch tv, rest, whatever feeds your soul. The dishes and laundry can wait. They just can. Taking care of yourself CAN’T!