4 Career Lessons We've Learned From Marriage

4 Career Lessons We've Learned From Marriage
Image credit: Photo provided by Heather and Pete Christothoulou

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Guest Writer
Founder of Heathermade; CEO of Marchex
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

On our wedding day, ten years ago, the champagne flowed, and with it came the classic marriage advice. Don’t go to bed angry. Ride through life’s bumps together. And you know the rest.

What we’ve found - and what no one uttered a word about -- is that having a life partner can help you progress in your career in ways you've never expected.

We know. It’s not exactly the stuff that makes for a warm and fuzzy wedding toast. But the truth is that marriage affords you a rare vantage point into another person’s approach to work - a ringside seat that can yield discoveries about your spouse and bring you closer together.

After watching each other sweat and evolve and grow in our respective careers - as a tech CEO and a chef and cookbook author -- we’ve identified unique ways to keep pressing forward, even when the path twists with uncertainty.

In this post, you'll learn what we've taught each other along the way.

Related: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on Partnering With Your Partner

Enter Pete. Two things Heather taught me.

1. Open the door.

I used to think I could get more done by holing up inside my office. Ironically, I accomplished less.

I watched how Heather constantly engaged with her community, which made me realize that being physically disconnected kept me on the back end. So I turned my office into a conference room; instituted an open-office floor plan; and moved smack dab into the middle of it.

This open-door policy is baked into our customer service strategy today. I now call every client regularly and talk them through their pain points. Being more accessible super-charged my passion for the work we do and the employee culture we’re building.

2. Clear the clutter.

Clutter equals chaos.

When Heather found her business crammed with projects that wasted energy and distracted her from what truly mattered to her and her community, she decided it was time to let those things go.

I watched as she turned down lucrative deals because of the opportunity cost involved in diverging from her core mission. Relentless focus allows you unlimited freedom to solve the problem you are truly passionate about.

Related: Is Your Marriage to An Entrepreneur Doomed?

Enter Heather. Two values Pete showed me.

1. He showed me the value of grit.

Any time I started to doubt myself - when things felt too hard or when it seemed like everything was on the verge of falling apart -- Pete reminded me to marinate in the stress, and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

If I didn’t fully trust my ability to make a difference, then I couldn’t inspire or sell anyone else that bill of goods. I watched as he handled his company’s iterations, and I realized that growing a company is a marathon. You have to see the long game, and claw your way toward it. Sometimes things move quickly - sometimes slowly. Sometimes you have to move backward to move forward.

2. He showed me how to visualize.

Pete taught me to imagine, in vivid detail, the arc of my goal - the beginning, middle and end.

He is someone who believes he can affect change, and he believes it on a cellular level. So I started to practice visualizing. I forced myself to do it - telling myself that there is no option other than success, and guess what? Doors swung open. Don’t get me wrong, it took plenty of sweat to get those doors open, but once I visualized my plot points, the possibilities multiplied.

Related: How to Keep the Marriage Strong When You Work Together

Like every partnership, we juggle constantly. We’re raising young children, and we’re caught in the crunch of trying to do everything, be everywhere, and make time for ourselves.

Because we geek out on setting goals, we decided a few years ago to write our aspirations out on a vision board. (Thanks, Oprah). We placed it inside our closet, where we can see it every day, and we revise it every year. Last May, on our 10-year anniversary, we pulled it out and were amazed to see how many of our goals we actually met.

As far as our personal goals - more traveling, more date nights, etc. -- we’re getting there. For a vacation, we’re vision-boarding a beach house in Greece that comes equipped with an endless supply of Ouzo. It's probably best for us not to visualize our flight home from that trip. Some endings are better left a mystery.

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