Day: February 13, 2019

Married and co-own a business? Some advice from veterans

NEW YORK — Business owners who are also romantic partners can find it takes a lot of adjusting to work together, and for some, being together 24/7.

Angie and Ryan Snow, who own a heating and air conditioning business in Orem, Utah, coach other couples who are business as well as romantic partners. Many of the issues they encounter with clients revolve around communication and boundaries between work and family, Angie Snow says. She and her husband also help couples struggling with the division of responsibilities, a common sticking point for romantically involved company owners.

“We talk to them about defining the roles of each partner,” Snow says.

Some advice from spouses who’ve worked through conflicts as co-owners:

— Decide early on which partner will handle which responsibilities. Mary Wendel and Mark DiStefano, physicians who own Medi Tresse, a small chain of women’s hair loss treatment centres, struggled at first without a structure; when they disagreed, their emotions affected the business and their marriage. “We learned to step back and look at each other’s strengths and set roles based on what those strengths were,” Wendel says.

— If you don’t want work to spill over to your home life, set boundaries. Melanie and Ray Ocana, who own Rustico Tile & Stone, a manufacturer of Mexican tiles, decided that unless it’s really necessary, shop talk shouldn’t take time away from their two children. “This took some adjusting, but it has saved our quality time at home,” Melanie Ocana says. The Ocanas, who have had their Austin, Texas, company for 14 years, also scheduled date nights to give themselves a break from work.

— Get some help with your relationship and/or how to run a business. Wendel and DiStefano went to a conference where they heard a talk by couples therapist and author Harville Hendrix about how to listen. It helped with their ability to communicate.

— Give each other positive feedback and validation. “It’s important to support each other and let each other know we are doing a great job, as with any employee,” Wendel says.

— If you’re an entrepreneur who works alone and your spouse or significant other joins your company, realize that you’ll need to give up some control. Ben Taylor, whose wife, Louise, joined his technology consulting business, didn’t know how to give her work or talk to her about it. “The relationship wasn’t going to work in that form,” says Taylor, who lives in Kent, England. She left the business, but rejoined it years later; it was structured differently and the couple still works together.


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Joyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law February 13, 2019 Off

Couples learn how to be romantic and business partners

NEW YORK — Debbie and Gary Douglas sometimes need to remind each other, this is your business partner talking.

In business together for 16 years, the Douglases have found that being co-owners of a public relations firm requires them to be more direct with each other than they once were as spouses. Like the time Debbie Douglas was on a ladder in their Newport Beach, California, home and her husband told her to come down because she might break an ankle.

“I said, ‘don’t worry about it.’ He said, “this is your partner speaking, you have a trade show to do next week and you can’t do it with a broken ankle!’” says Debbie Douglas, co-owner of Douglas Strategic Communications.

Romantic partners who are also business partners can find there’s a lot of tough talk, listening, learning and compromising needed as they run a company, a personal relationship and often a family. Couples may have unique struggles depending on their personalities and the type of business they own. But there are common hotspots: Roles and responsibilities that aren’t well defined, vastly different styles of communication or decision-making and sometimes a clash of egos.

While the Douglases know how to take a hard line with one another, they also know when to budge.

“You yield to the other person if they are more qualified to make a decision,” Gary Douglas says. “You can’t have your own way every day, every time.”

Ben Taylor and his wife Louise learned that lesson the hard way.

“At the end of the first work day, my wife burst into tears and said, ‘I want to tell my husband how horrible my new boss is!’” Ben Taylor recalls. The problem was that the husband, who owned a technology consultancy, needed his wife’s help but wasn’t spelling out her role; he’d never really thought it through. Like many entrepreneurs, he also found it hard to relinquish some tasks.

“I know I’m a bit of a control freak. It just didn’t jell — we just got irritated with each other,” says Ben Taylor, who also owns, an advice website for freelance workers based in Kent, England.

The business partnership started in 2006 and failed in just a year. But the couple tried it again in 2013, this time with each of them handling specific responsibilities. She is a writer. He does the consulting and administrative tasks.

“My wife would far rather be free to do work for her clients — essentially working in the business while I’m working on the business,” Ben Taylor says.

Spouses who co-own companies say friction, while unpleasant in the moment, ultimately helps them strengthen their relationships.

“We have learned to get through disagreements the old-fashioned way — through arguing and eventually coming to a compromise that one or both of us are happy with,” says Clinton Smith, who owns the retirement planning firm Government & Civil Employee Services with his husband, Galen Bargerstock.

The couple founded the business in 2010, five years into their relationship. At first, it was rocky. Smith remembers the fights they had over who should be doing what. But the company, based in Indiana, Pennsylvania, thrived, and “this was when we knew no matter what, we had to keep working hard,” Smith says.

They learned how to divide responsibilities according to each partner’s strengths; Bargerstock handles sales and Smith manages marketing.

“We have grown both as a business, but also as a couple,” Smith says.

Some couples go for help — not to a therapist, but a business coach. That’s how Wendy and Scott Schultz reconciled their differing styles that, as Wendy Schultz put it, turned decision-making into a battlefield.

“I would see an opportunity to expand our business in the form of a new investment and would want to act quickly. He would see all of the reasons the investment could go wrong and wanted to take time to assess all the pros and cons,” says Wendy Schultz, CEO of The Simple Life Hospitality. The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company invests in and manages vacation rental properties; Schultz founded it in 2013 and her husband joined her in 2016.

There was also tension between the couple over who was in charge, and the fact that running a business isn’t a 9-to-5 occupation, like the job Scott Schultz previously worked at. They began working with a coach to understand and change their dynamics.

“There wasn’t a defining moment where we resolved our differences, but over time, we’ve found ways to make our styles complementary for the success of our business,” Wendy Schultz says. “Through our own trial and error, we’ve developed a happy medium.”

Sometimes, working well together takes brutal honesty. Cynthia Smoot remembers struggling with her husband Randy for several years after she joined his advertising agency, Gangway Advertising, in 2008. They had an ongoing clash of egos and a hard time accepting each other’s point of view. She remembers one argument during which he was pretty blunt.

“You want to do your own thing? What do you think you’re bringing to the table?” Cynthia Smoot recalls her husband saying. “Some things that I thought were strengths, he saw as weakness. That was an eye-opening exercise.”

Part of the problem was too much closeness — being together 24/7 didn’t work. So, they transitioned from sharing a home office to two separate rooms in different parts of their house in Dallas.

“I was as far away as I could get from him,” Cynthia says. “I told him, ‘don’t even come walking in here. Google-chat me!’”

Now, she says, they share harmony and a successful company.


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Joyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law February 13, 2019 Off

Lottery win still a dream for Owen Sound man

A week and a half after his big lottery win and it’s still sinking in for Jason Goreski.

The Owen Sound man, who found out he was the winner of more than $33 million the day after the Feb. 2 Lotto 6/49 draw, says it still doesn’t feel real.

“I feel like I am going to wake up one morning and somebody is going to tell me I have just been in a very long dream,” said Goreski. “My thoughts are all over the place. What to do and where to go next.”

The OLG announced on Monday that Goreski, 48, was the lone winner of the $33,369,099 grand prize from that Feb. 2 draw.

On Wednesday, Goreski was at The Sun Times were he recapped what had been a whirlwind of a week-and-a-half after learning he was the area’s newest multi-millionaire.

Goreski said he has always bought his ticket at the Circle K on 9th Ave. E, across from Gas Plus, where he has worked for 20 years and has fully owned since August. On the day he bought the big one, he was downtown at another store when he thought about getting a ticket, but made the drive to his “lucky spot” later in the day to get one.

On Feb. 3, the day after the evening draw, Goreski was preparing for a trip up the Bruce Peninsula with his girlfriend Natasha to “daydream” and look at cottages. The plan was to get back in time for the Super Bowl later in the day.

Goreski said he normally doesn’t check his numbers right after the draw.

“I just do it randomly when I remember,” said Goreski. “I am sure there are probably some tickets I haven’t checked at home.”

While he was waiting for Natasha to get ready he pulled the numbers up on his phone as a way to “kill time.” When he realized that his numbers matched he yelled down the hallway to Natasha.

“Right away it is doubt. You just keep thinking is something wrong,” said Goreski. “You think you missed something or you got the wrong date on the ticket. A whole lot of things go through your mind.”

He asked Natasha to verify, but she was just as panicked as he was. So he called his son, who came over and looked at the ticket and had the same reaction.

“We all looked for ways that it wouldn’t be the ticket,” said Goreski. “We just kept talking that there had to be something wrong.”

He knew the jackpot for the draw was over $33-million, but it was 20 minutes later before he finally checked the prize payout to realize his ticket was the only winner.

He called OLG, who told them about their App which can be used to check his numbers, which he did. The App worked and verified that he had in fact won. But the doubt still lingered.

He said since it was Sunday there wasn’t much they could do about it that day. He knew he would need to talk to an accountant, a lawyer and others, but that would have to wait until Monday.

After all of the excitement, Goreski said they decided to still take the drive up the peninsula.

“You feel so strange that you want to get back to the normal right away,” said Goreski.

As they were driving up the peninsula, they talked about the reasons why it must not be real. Then Goreski’s son called and told them that he had heard on the news that the winning ticket was sold in Owen Sound. That was enough to convince Natasha.

For Goreski it took much longer for the win to be “legitimized” in his mind.

“For me it was seeing the money in my bank account,” Goreski said.

The win was kept quiet with only close family told at first. His accountant was out of town, so he wasn’t able to meet with him until Feb. 7. He finally went down to OLG headquarters in Toronto on Friday (Feb. 8), where he was vetted and declared the winner. He returned to Toronto on Monday to finalize everything, and it was announced that day to the world that he had won. The money appeared in his account that day.

And what does he plan to do with all that cash?

For one thing, retirement isn’t in the cards quite yet.

Goreski finalized his purchase of the Gas Plus business in August, and is in the midst of an expansion. They take possession of the former Burger King building on the Sunset Strip in April and are hoping to open in July after some renovations to the 5,000-square-foot space. He currently employs 12 to 15 people and hopes to get to the 15-20 range in the new location.

“I plan to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Goreski. “We were in the midst of this expansion and it is exciting for me, and I am really, really looking forward to that.

“I probably won’t start considering the future until that vision I have had for a long time is all settled in the next couple of years.”

Goreski said there will maybe be a few more vacations in his future, while the cottage he was dreaming about is looking like more of a reality.

“If anything I think the cottage will be our little escape up the peninsula,” said Goreski. “Hopefully we can find something. There isn’t very much out there.”

He has also started looking at boats, something he has always wanted. He admitted the boats he was looking at started to get bigger and bigger, but he quickly snapped back.

“You try to justify it and that is the hard thing. A luxury is a luxury,” Goreski said. “That is the thing I think I am going to have the hardest time with is justifying those kind of things.”

He said he has never been a “flashy guy” and a sportscar likely isn’t in the cards.

“I drive a pick-up truck at work and that is probably what I will continue to drive,” Goreski said.

But what he is most excited about is helping the others around him, including his children Kristen, Nick and Brady, all in their 20s.

His also wants to do something special for his sister Lisa, who he described as his hero.

“A single mom, she has worked hard her whole life and put herself back through school later in life, so that is what I am looking forward to most is helping her,” said Goreski. “I think that is going to be a bigger kick than anything I could ever buy for myself, for sure.”

He is also looking forward to helping others in the greater Owen Sound area.

He plans to start a foundation in the name of his late father James, who passed away a year-and-a-half ago from cancer.

Goreski said his father was a big lottery player and always talked about helping out the community had he won.

“That was always important to him was the local community,” said Goreski. “Every time he would hear about a winner, he said he wished it was somebody local or somebody around here because then they would keep the money here.”

Among the institutions at the top of his list to help out are the hospital and the hospice.

“We were fortunate enough that my sister is a nurse and we didn’t need to use the hospice, but it was comforting to know it was there,” said Goreski. “I can only imagine what it is like for people who are losing somebody to have that.”

As Goreski soaks it all in, he admits he has had some fears about the win. He said he has heard the horror stories about people who have won the lottery in the past, and naturally he worries that he does the right thing with the money.

But he said he thinks he has the right people helping him out, including his accountant, who let him enjoy the win, but kept him on an even keel.

“So far it has been very positive with the buzz about it and all the well-wishers,” said Goreski. “I worry about the future what I am going to do with it, but I think I have got a good team around me.”

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By The Wall of Law February 13, 2019 Off

After Wilson-Raybould resignation, Trudeau says ‘She never came to me’

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

A day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Jody Wilson-Raybould‘s continued presence in cabinet showed there was no political interference in the SNC-Lavalin case, Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet. A letter posted on her website announced her resignation from cabinet, though she plans to still serve as MP for the Vancouver-Granville riding. Wilson-Raybould’s letter didn’t give a reason for her resignation, but she revealed she’s hired former Supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to advise her on what she can say about “matters that have been in the media over the last week.” (Canadian Press)

Anne Kingston reads the vast spaces between the lines in Wilson-Raybould’s resignation letter for the subtle, and not-so-subtle, signals she was sending:

5. Omission destined to spark speculation: No reason is given for her resignation, not even the cliched: “To spend more time with my family.”

6. Covert slam of Real Change™: “When I sought federal elected office, it was with the goal of implementing a positive and progressive vision of change on behalf of all Canadians and a different way of doing politics,” Wilson-Raybould writes. Her commitment to “fundamental change” hasn’t changed: “This work must and will carry on.” (Left unsaid: But not in the Trudeau cabinet.) (Maclean’s)

Read Wilson-Raybould’s full letter here.

On Tuesday evening Trudeau spoke to reporters in Winnipeg, repeating over and over that Wilson-Raybould never came to him about any concerns she had, and that he was “surprised and disappointed” by her decision to resign from cabinet. Here are the highlights: (Maclean’s)

If you thought the Trudeau government was about family benefits and boil-water advisories, the SNC-Lavalin affair offers a glimpse of the real scene—maybe the real Canada, writes Paul Wells:

Eighty meetings, the SNC-Lavalin lobbyists had with tout ce qui bouge à Ottawa. The lobbyists included Bill Pristanski, who used to run the weekly senior-staff meetings when Brian Mulroney was prime minister. And Bruce Hartley, who used to get Jean Chrétien on the phone if you needed him, and still can. The company’s lawyers include Frank Iacobucci, 81 years on this earth and not a minute wasted, puisne justice (ret’d) of the Supreme Court of Canada, Interim President (ret’d) of the University of Toronto, the very Laurentian rock made flesh.

The chairman of SNC’s board used to be Lawrence Stevenson, founding CEO of Chapters, a paratrooper in his youth, a retailer in later life, strong and true. But by late 2017 Stevenson was not well-connected enough for the task at hand, and SNC made haste to replace him as board chair with—with—avert your gaze, ye mortals—with Kevin Lynch, Clerk (ret’d) of the Privy Council, the man who—before he became Clerk, operating at barely lower levels of exaltation—built Chrétien’s industrial policy, designed the fabled Canada Foundation for Innovation—and then finally bent the very bureaucracy itself to Stephen Harper’s whim. The man wields jargon the way a ninja tosses throwing stars.

A company replaces Lawrence Stevenson with Kevin Lynch when it is, at least temporarily, out of the business of building roads and dams because it finds itself, full-time, in the business of crafting Deferred Prosecution Agreements. (Maclean’s)

Here’s some other opinion and analysis on Wilson-Raybould’s resignation:

  • Wilson-Raybould exit opens door to Trudeau downfall (Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Time to break the silence that has defined the relationship between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould (Toronto Star)
  • Why China might be right to wonder if Canadian justice can be bought (National Post)
  • I bribed the Libyans. It’s how things work in hopelessly corrupt countries (CBC News)

One final bit of SNC-Lavalin news—prosecutors in Quebec are working with the RCMP on what could lead to bribery charges against the company over a contract to refurbish Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Bridge in the early 2000s. (Canadian Press)

Last week a fake article circulated on B.C. websites via an online ad network that claimed NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh owns a luxury mansion, which the NDP called defamatory. The episode raised questions about exactly who made the ad, or what impact it might have on voters, but as David Moscrop writes, it also raises another question:

Why should anyone care if Singh does own such a home? (Again, he doesn’t.) Or, for that matter, why is it inconsistent for him to be a social democrat (or even a socialist) and wear custom suits and a Rolex while driving a BMW or riding a designer bicycle?

Last fall, rookie congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was photographed wearing an expensive suit. The right, suddenly discovering class politics, attacked her as a hypocrite. “How can a ‘socialist’ own something nice?” they howled. “Moreover,” they asked, “How dare she wear it for all to see?” The whole kerfuffle was as disingenuous as it was motivated by schadenfreude and other considerations born of complicated feelings. The suit Ocasio-Cortez wore was provided to her—on loan—for a photo shoot. But, again, the affair raised a question that we in North America have yet to ask answer: Why should anyone care if a socialist or social democrat owns something nice? (Maclean’s)

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By The Wall of Law February 13, 2019 Off

UK government downplays suggestion it will seek Brexit delay

LONDON — The British government is downplaying a report that its chief Brexit negotiator said lawmakers will have to choose between backing Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular divorce deal and a delay to the U.K.’s exit from the European Union.

An ITV News correspondent says he overheard negotiator Olly Robbins in a Brussels bar saying the government would ask Parliament in late March to back her agreement, rejected by lawmakers last month, or seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said Wednesday the government is not planning a delay, saying “the prime minister has been very clear that we are committed to leaving on March 29.”

If no deal is approved by the British and European parliaments before March 29, the U.K. faces a messy sudden Brexit.

The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law February 13, 2019 Off