How To Grow Your Startup Without Bankrupting Your Marriage

When I was 28 I came home to find my fiance crying in the kitchen holding her engagement ring letting me know it was over.

The truth is… I was a horrible partner.

I unapologetically worked 100 hours a week using the justification that I was doing it all for her and our life ahead of us.

It was complete *bullshit*.

No one had asked me to sacrifice those hours… and if I was being honest, I knew it was just my way of escaping the fact that I felt a lot of “lacking” in my life.

Even though that moment shook me to my core, I learned a long time ago that rock bottom is a beautiful place to start.

So I went on a journey…

The question I kept asking myself is “Why am I so good in business… but suck at relationships?”

What was I missing?

After doing the hard work for 10 years — reading the books, attending the seminars, seeking out role models to learn from, etc… I feel like I’m finally ready to share some of the things I’ve learned about creating an integrated life.

One where your work doesn’t leave you feeling guilty.

Your kids, health and relationship are priorities…

… and you build an incredible legacy through your business and children.

What I’m most proud of, despite having grown up around alcoholism and emotional abuse, is that I have created the complete opposite environment for my kids.

I needed to break the cycle.

To honour that journey, the people who’ve supported me, and to Renee the love of my life…

… I created this micro-documentary talking about the beliefs we share and how we go about our days to squeeze every drop of juice out of it.

If you asked me what are the big rocks and habits that we’ve implemented to integrate our lives, I could easily point them out…

… here are a few:

  1. Weekly Family Meetings: Every Friday at 11:30AM my wife and I have a “Martell Clan” meeting where we have a detailed agenda that’s evolved over the years that helps us ensure we have space to discuss our agenda, travel, businesses, goals and wins for the previous week. We also ask each other to rate our role out of 10 so that we can never go too long without knowing if we’re meeting the needs of the other. This is huge.
  2. Dinner Every Night: Every night between 5–6pm it’s a no cell phone zone + we always sit down and have dinner together and talk. Renee even created these cool conversation cards to help prompt our little boys to tell stories and share what they believe.
  3. F-Yeah Decisions: Because Renee and I are both entrepreneurs, we’ve got a lot of opportunities put in front of us on a weekly basis… and one of the easiest ways we cut through the noise is asking if this is a “F-yeah decision?” If it’s not, we’re quick to say no… if it is, we work together to make it happen even if it means the other person has to sacrifice. Our goal is to make our year packed with ONLY f-yeah events.
  4. Weekly Scoring: Every week we review the values (there are 5) we’ve outlined for our family and give ourselves a score out of 10. Then we take the 2 lowest scores and make an action plan to fix those in the next week. This allows us to keep the right things in front of us all the time.
  5. Quarterly & Yearly Couple Retreats: 3–4 times a year we get away with no kids and no devices to disconnect so we can reconnect. We usually take 3 days and go to a place we’ve never been and just rediscover ourselves and talk about life. It’s usually during this time that we look at the previous few months and ask ourselves what worked, what didn’t and what we want to add. At the end of the year, we sit down with ALL the existing commitments + our wish list of activities and design a Fully Loaded Year (I got this from Taki Moore) that merges it all together so we know that we’ve got all our big rocks covered and we can see how the rhythm of the year looks & feels.

If you’re reading this and saying “damn that’s a lot of structure and must cost a lot of money to be going away without the kids all the time… I could never afford it”…

What I would say is… pick one, start small and do it consistently.

The most powerful thing — the weekly meeting — is free and takes less than 30 minutes.

Also, if you’re not willing to invest in your relationship, then where are you spending your money? Expensive restaurants and wine so you can numb the frustrations of life? (yeah, I’m going there).

I’m not here to judge anyone else… all I’m trying to show is that I know first hand the pain of sacrificing for your business and it was like getting smashed by a transport truck.

What I choose instead is to create the focus, hunger and discipline so that I could have it all integrated.

To create The Integrated Life.

If you’re on that journey, or have questions please leave a comment below and let me know how I can help.

If you have other tips and strategies, please post them so everyone watching this video can learn from the community.

Super grateful for your readership and the feedback you provide… it’s the fuel to my passion for giving back.

Have an incredible day!

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. (Get the free 3 videos to grow your business here.) He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter@danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

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I coach ambitious software founders | Award-winning angel investor / 5x founder with 3x exits | Speaker | Proud Father.

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Dan Martell

Dan Martell

I coach ambitious software founders | Award-winning angel investor / 5x founder with 3x exits | Speaker | Proud Father.

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