Relationships and Business

Coworkers having fun riding bicycles

February is relationship month for us so we are starting off the month with a chat about relationships and business, particularly in terms of finding the right business partner and how to build a good partnership. We draw on some famous co-founders for inspiration as well as Lucille Ball!

Hope you get value from it!

Want to ask us a question on relationships and business?

Please send your questions or comments to [email protected]

Some interesting articles about famous cofounders:

https://www.businessinsider.com/10-successful-cofounders-and-why-their-partnerships-worked?r=AU&IR=T

We love Lucille Ball’s story:

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Please send your questions or comments to [email protected].

Higher Spaces: www.higherspaces.com.au

Listen to all episodes on Apple Podcast

Just a discretionary note that Jo has new headphones that echoed throughout the conversation in the background so apologies if you are annoyed by a bit of echo.

Christy Mori (00:09):

Welcome to Gears, Action, Growth, shifting business culture, one conversation at a time. My name is Christy Mori, I’m joining Dr. Josephine Palermo, whose superpower is to create business cultures that transform organizations team by team. Today, we’ll be kicking off February with the theme of relationships and business. Hope you get value from it.

Christy Mori: Hey everybody! And Hey Jo! Good morning. How are you?

Dr. Josephine Palermo: Good morning, Christy, how are you?

Christy Mori: Yeah, I’m good. I’m good. But my voice is quite tired. I think it’s because we had that event lunch event yesterday at Higher Spaces. And I think I was just like talking so much in a span of an hour and people are because people are asking questions and when you’re hosting something, you can’t really be silent. You got to introduce yourself and things like that. So I think my voice is tired effort, you know, if anyone’s listening and they think it’s Corona, I don’t think it is. Yeah.

Dr. Josephine Palermo: I hope not Christy, hope not.

Christy Mori: Yeah. I don’t have the symptoms. I think, I think I could just feel that it’s tired.

Dr Josephine Palermo (01:12):

Just a little bit of fatigue. You know what I think it’s true. And, you know, we had a wonderful event. I loved bringing the whole community and all the neighbors together around our coworking space, but it is, you know, when you do an event, it is really exhausting. And so it kind of makes me, it may reminds me that you have to spend, you have to kind of put time in your week to sort of have that downtime afterwards because it is it’s tiring.

Christy Mori (01:36):

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. But I guess this is our downtime a little bit now. We’re just talking one-on-one and not greeting so many people in a span of an hour. So yeah. So I enjoy one-on-one a lot more than big groups, but yeah, it was great. It was great. We, yeah. So we, yesterday we, for everyone, who’s wondering what we’re talking about. We had just a networking lunch at Higher Spaces, the coworking space that Jo is a co-founder of, and yeah, we had to move it outside really quickly because in Victoria there was a case of the pandemic, the Corona. So we had to quickly move everything outside for just everybody. And it was for the better, for sure, but it just required a lot more movement, physical movement and mental energy.

Dr Josephine Palermo (02:38):

It did. But you know what Christy, you, you did a fabulous job of creating an absolute Wonderland in our courtyard. So I think we will actually, maybe we’ll put some links to some photos.

Christy Mori (02:49):

Yeah. We’ll put some links.

Dr Josephine Palermo (02:54):

It’s so beautiful what you did. I mean it’s such a quick kind of, you know, you adapted so well, so yeah, we’ll put some…

Christy Mori (03:00):

It was good Jo, you pulled out a rug and I was like, ‘Where is that rug from?’ I’ve never seen that rug and we’ve set up a picnic rug outside as well. Yeah. So we’re suddenly event planners, but flexibility is key, but that is not what our topic is today. It is February and we are kicking it off as we said about relationships and business, because obviously the main holiday or celebration is Valentine’s day. So we started thinking about relationships, of course, and it’s going to be a fun month of discussions. So hopefully you guys stay tuned, but today we’ll be chatting specifically about finding the right partner for a business. And how do we build that kind of dynamic business friendship and relationship with our business partners to weather all sorts of storms. And then we’ll be looking at some famous partnerships in the business world and we’ll be finding some common factors of what makes their partnership work. So stay tuned. So let’s kick it off with why it’s important to have a good partnership and relationship. And what does it mean to find the right partner for a business and maybe Jo because of your experience with Higher Spaces and other businesses you’re doing, maybe you could chat a little bit from your own experience as well.

What It Means to Find the Right Partner for Business

Dr Josephine Palermo (04:22):

Yeah. Thanks Christy. I, and you know, I am a co-founder and I’m actually a co-founder in two businesses. So I, I’m a co-founder in Melbourne Belly Dance as well as Higher Spaces. And it is the most important relationship type, I guess, apart from my you know, significant partner relationship. And it, it is critical to the success of my business. And I know that it’s been critical to the success of so many businesses and we’ll, we’ll sort of talk about some of those really iconic brands that people know where really the success is based on co-founders and so, so I’ve kind of personally lived through the ups and downs of that relationship and how it’s formed and then how we we’ve kind of worked through things. But I also think that the importance of that is because you really need to feel supported when you’re in a partnership and that’s in general, whether it’s a loving love relationship or a business relationship and having the right person beside you in as a co-founder or co-creator as my business partner and I call ourselves is really critical.

Dr Josephine Palermo (05:39):

It’s, it’s, it’s really important. And many many times businesses go through some really significant problems when co-founders disagree or they have a very different vision for their business. So importantly, the thing that really needs to happen is that co-founders have a very significant alignment in the vision for what they want and that they support each other. And I was sort of thinking about this really when I heard a little bit more about Lucille Ball and, and, you know, kind of like, it feels like a bit left wing, but I didn’t realize the extent of Lucille Balls entrepreneurship. I mean, I knew she was an amazing pioneer in entertainment and she actually did a lot for I guess women’s roles in television. And I know that sounds a bit strange, kind of looking back, you know to her I guess content now, because it kind of feels very old fashioned and, you know, she was very much portraying a very stereotypical role on television, but if you go back to what was happening around the time in the sixties, when she particularly did the Lucille ball show with her husband Desi Arnaz, she actually pioneered a lot of first in television.

Dr Josephine Palermo (07:04):

And, and in particular, she was running the business empire behind that TV show with her husband, Desi Arnez on his, who supported her. She was, they both had the vision, but she was the one driving it to the point where, when they divorced after a 20 year marriage, she took on the reins and continued very successfully with that business. And and she has been, she was given so many awards after her, her death just because of just recognizing the fact that she did so much for, for television and women in television. And some of the things that, that, you know, you can go to as an examples of that. So she was the first woman on television to actually be pregnant and even, you know, portray a woman, giving birth on television and they didn’t show the birth obviously, but, but portraying a woman being pregnant and having a baby.

Dr Josephine Palermo (08:00):

And then you know, as we know, she used her children in the TV show, so it was kind of like almost, you know, life portraying it’s art lot portraying life.

Christy Mori:

Yeah. Like a sense of a reality show.

Dr. Josephine Palermo:

Exactly, exactly. But she, you know, back then they couldn’t talk, they couldn’t say the word pregnant on, on public media. So, so she was they termed her as ‘expecting’. So, you know, we talk about people who are expecting and that’s kind of coined from those days.

Christy Mori:

Oh, interesting.

Dr Josephine Palermo (08:57):

Yeah. Yeah. And she was also you know, prior to, to her husband Desi part prior to meeting and marrying her husband Desi, she had actually had quite a lot of failure in her career. So she had, she had tried to she was a trained actress. She had tried to break into you know movies, she had had some success but more in but more in sort of small part roles. She hadn’t really you know, had that leading kind of role in, in movies at all. And yeah. And so she was having and in fact she would, I was getting a lot of knock-backs in terms of her acting as well. So then she went to modeling because she was obviously, you know, stunning woman. And she had a little bit more luck in modeling and a bit more success. And that’s what got her some of the bit roles in movies was, you know, but purely because of her looks but not, you know, she was a trained actress. She wasn’t recognized for those skills. And then it wasn’t really, until she partnered with Desi who was younger than her, I don’t know if that makes a difference, but, you know, he, he had a lot of, of energy himself.

Dr Josephine Palermo (09:44):

He was a he was a entertainer, he was a musician and he was a successful musician himself. He was very supportive of her career at a time where men weren’t necessarily supportive of their wives careers, and and, and, you know, perhaps particularly expected women to stay at home and be the, you know, house housewives in particular. And so he was very supportive of her and they actually had a an opportunity to, to do the TV show for another network, but and Lucy insisted that her husband be part of the cast because they wanted to see each other more because he was doing, he was in Cuban bands. So he was kind of a musician and he was working on the, you know, on the road and traveling a lot. And she was working in TV at that point after, you know, not really making a breaking in movies.

Dr Josephine Palermo (10:42):

And so she insisted that if she was going to do this show that she would need to do do it with her husband and the network declined that, they didn’t give her that. So, so they took that show and they went on Vaudeville. So they, they, you know, I mean, in other words, they said, no, they said they, they knocked back a lucrative contract with the TV you know, production house or network. And they, they went on Vaudville and the show was so popular that they then set up their own production network, so their own TV network. And so they, they not only ran the Lucille ball show, which was one of the most you know, successful shows of all time. And actually, you know, we all know most of us we’ll be aware of Seinfeld as, as being coined, you know, the most successful, you know comedic TV series, but Lucille ball, if you look at the kind of statistics and Lucy Balll Show is very much on par and perhaps that supersedes the success that Seinfield had.

Dr Josephine Palermo (11:48):

And so, you know, it was such a pioneering show. And in some ways, perhaps Seinfield as a show, we wouldn’t have that without Lucy’s pioneering kind of vision for the Lucy Ball Show, because it was like you were saying, it’s kind of, you know, art reflecting reality. And yeah. And so she, she was, she was amazing. She had such a lot of drive and, you know, so she, so they, they ended up starting their own network. And again, so that, that partnership was really key to the success of that show of the TV empire that they, they both built. And you know, obviously people kind of say that she had a tragic life because her, her marriage to Desi Arnez ended, but I actually see it as a success. They had 20 years together, they had a family, she was able to, you know, kind of combine career and motherhood.

Dr Josephine Palermo (12:43):

And, you know, I’m not saying that she did that perfectly. I don’t know. I didn’t know her well enough at the time, and I’m not going to judge mothers. One thing you don’t do in life is judge mothers. You know, you don’t have children yourself. I, you know, I put my, I put my hands down all the time and I, you know, go to my knees, praising mothers, you know, they do the best they can, but I’ve kind of like, as an observer outside looking in, she kind of lived the life that she wanted to live and she’d had the supportive Desi Arnez. And I think that it was really that relationship in her life that catapulted her because what, what I see when I look at look at kind of her biographies, I see a very talented woman who was facing a lot of barriers in a very male dominated industry of movies and television. Then she met her husband who was supportive of her and together, they were able to kind of build this empire. And and so, you know, he, you know, and I see this, the characteristics of that great partnership is I see that reflected in a lot of iconic brands that we we all know about. And even, even, you know, when you think about it, even in life, everything is joyous. When you have people around you supporting you, you know, don’t you think so Christy?

Christy Mori (14:07):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. You want to be with people who are like for you, of course, that wouldn’t work if it was the other way.

Dr Josephine Palermo (14:17):

Exactly. Yeah. But people stay in environments where they’re really, they feel very unsupported though. And so…

Christy Mori (14:26):

That’s true. Cause we all have different motivations. I was listening to a story the other day about it. I won’t go too much into detail cause I know we’re a business podcast, but it was about this very toxic relationship and basically yeah, basically your ex smashed her car at night because he was so outraged and I was like, that’s what I’m saying is like that’s extreme and that’s very, very unhealthy after a breakup to smash your ex’s car, like very, very bad. Yes. Very bad. Yeah. But what it’s saying is like they, like, she had every indication of his personality and what he is about and yet staying in it for the wrong reasons is very clear. So

Dr Josephine Palermo (15:13):

Yeah. And you know, I think that that’s a whole different discussion on toxic relationships, but for sure,

Christy Mori (15:25):

Yeah. Maybe we could do a toxic relationship one in, at the end. I don’t know. Cause we’re doing relationships this month.

Dr Josephine Palermo (15:31):

I think that would be a great idea. And what I might even do Christy is invite a guest. One of my, one of my colleagues in more of a in clinical or counseling psychology had that discussion. I think that would be great. Yeah. Yeah. Cause I think that we often, it seems like a no-brainer to want to be around people who support us and to kind of bring those people into our lives and, and, and to not want to be around those people who don’t support us. And so why do we, why do we have people who don’t support us in our lives? That’s the question, isn’t it? Why do we continue to do that? And so yeah, let’s, let’s have that. Let’s have that discussion. I think that’ll be great. Going back, going back to, to Lucille ball’s life. I think that you know, in some ways, that that to me, I know it’s, it’s a kind of, it’s a a Golden Era story and I love the Golden Era by the way, that’s very attractive, but it is a Golden Era story, but it really does tell you, you know, because, you know, Lucille Ball’s success was actually in the fifties and sixties when women were just not seen as executives of organizations, you know, women were not running companies back then.

Dr Josephine Palermo (16:49):

Like we, we kind of forget that and she was running a major TV network. And so isn’t that fabulous? Like we have to really applaud that. So, so we will we will kind of go back to Lucy Ball from time to time. I think I I’d love to dig into her life a little bit more. Cause I think there’s so much more to kind of look at there, but we will provide a link in there.

Christy Mori (17:10):

You know, we can watch her episodes for research, of course, watch TV for research. That would be a fun and research. But so this is, yeah, obviously I find this really interesting as well, but in terms of her story, her partner was also her husband. So there is a bit more layers than just it being a business partner. So when, when, when we talk about establishing the right business partner and it doesn’t have to be, and most often times it’s friendships, isn’t it as well, like not just romantic relationships, turning into business partnerships.

A Dynamic Relationship that Weathers All Sorts of Storms

Dr Josephine Palermo (17:46):

That’s right. So yeah. So we look at, if we look at some of the, you know, really I guess, famous co-founders stories, what we see like, and you know, I’m thinking of Apple, I’m thinking of Microsoft, I’m thinking of some companies, you know, like Google, even like all of it when you feel those tech companies, but then we’ve also got Ben and Jerry’s and Hewlett Packard. So, you know, all of those kinds of companies, really what, all of those co-founders were friends first. And, you know, if I think of my experience, my, my, you know, with, with the lovely Shu Tan, we were friends first too. So there’s always some level of, you meet and you kind of see a spark in each other cause that’s kind of what friendship is, isn’t it, you see a spark in each other. And and I think that those partnerships work because you turn that friendship into a successful business relationship.

Dr Josephine Palermo (18:45):

And so, and they’re different in a way because you know, I feel like, I feel like I had lots of friends, but I have a very different relationship with my business partner. It is, it is different. It starts off the same and then it’s different and it’s different because the characteristics that I share as well, and I’m looking at all of those kinds of founder stories as well are a very deep respect for each other. A very deep vested interest in, in building each other’s strengths and, and also an incredible shared interest and passion. So when I think of my friendships, I may not have all three things in my, in all my friendships. I don’t need to have all three things. I might have friends where I share a passion, but you know, I’m not kind of absolutely invested in building their strengths on a daily basis, but with my business partner, it’s those three things.

Dr Josephine Palermo (19:54):

It’s deep respect. I want to build her strength so I can build my strengths and it’s that shared interest and passion. And then all of that kind of accumulates to having a kind of similar vision. So I think you, those three things for me, and there might be others, but it’s those three things that particularly sort of stand out for me. And I can see it in a way when I look at some of the kind of iconic partnerships, like even, you know, the lot’s been written about Apple and about, you know, Steve Jobs and and it was Wozniak, wasn’t it, Sorry, I know his name is [laughs],

Christy Mori: Yeah, I know. His name is hard to say. Wozniak?

Dr Josephine Palermo (20:36):

But you know, a, lot’s been written about those guys in terms of, you know, strengths and, but also in terms of, you know, where the relationship got disruptive and it wasn’t so so healthy. And I think that, that I, that’s a good example for me because I’m not saying that a business partner relationship will be like positive and like a cherry on top all the time. What you’ve got to do with your business partner is be able to weather the storms and disagree and really have it out with each other sometimes. And that’s, that’s because that’s because you, you really are wanting to work on building each other’s strengths for the business. And, but sometimes you will have very different ideas about things you’ll have very different even sometimes visions for how things should be done. And so one of the most important things is to know how to have really constructive disagreements and then come out of that.

Christy Mori(21:44):

Yeah, yeah. That’s right.

Dr Josephine Palermo (21:48):

So you’ve got to lean into conflict because if you don’t, then you’re not being true to your business. Your, you might be you know, for example, if I’m, if I have a point of view and I’m not standing up for that point of view because I’m, I don’t want to lean into the conflict with my business partner, then I’m doing a disservice to the business. So you almost have, it’s almost like a third party that you’re always, it’s always part of your relationship. So it’s almost like a, you know, there’s a trio in your relationship, there’s you and your business partner and the business, and they’re all different entities.

Dr Josephine Palermo (22:29):

So in some ways I, you know, when I look at different, you know, co-founders, they often have, they all should have a shared interest. They’re really supportive of each other from a strengths point of view, but they are willing to have disagreements and just, and kind of constructive arguments. And, and also they’re probably more likely to have some separate areas of strength. So so for example, you, you know, you, you see, you see people who might have more technical knowledge and then other people have more sales knowledge, and that was the Apple kind of relationship. You know, you had one founder who had more of that technical knowledge, and then you had Steve Jobs come in, who was really a marketer in a way, he had that marketing brain and and kind of had a more sort of you know, customer centric or marketing perspective. So together they built Apple. Right. Whereas whereas separately, they probably wouldn’t have had as much success. And you see that too, in some ways, in some of the other business partnerships we can talk about, it’s not just the two Steve’s it’s also in relation to perhaps I’m just thinking of maybe something like Ben and Jerry’s, you know, people kind of know about the iconic ice cream, although, you know what, Christy, I’ve never actually tried Ben and Jerry’s because I’m lactose free.

Christy Mori (24:05):

Oh right. I always forget that. It’s good. It’s good. Always I have one near my place now, too. Yeah. They always have very creative names as well. And yeah, we’re not sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s at all or any of the yeah, yeah. But yeah, they have a very, very cool model of yeah. And they have fun graphics, like very like cheery graphics. Like there’s lots of different elements that makes them stand out. But you were saying that the relationship between a business partnership is not just the two partnerships, the business itself is the third relationship. And I thought that was pretty critical to highlight because in a regular friendship, if somebody was behaving very toxic or in a yeah, just not in a good way, I don’t know if we would be as intense about trying to convince them or get them back or whatever, but in a business, like, it’s almost like we have to do it because the business will suffer. Is that the kind of what you’re saying?

How to Manage Conflicts: The Four L’s Structure

Dr Josephine Palermo (25:17):

Absolutely. And, and that’s why the stakes are higher in a way. And I guess it’s similar to, you know, you can kind of see parallels between, you know, couples who are, who are in a relationship and they have children, you know, there’s always, when there’s another party there that is relying on you to, to make it right, right. You know, to make the relationship work, the stakes are higher. So you want it, you want to really lean into conflict with each other in a way that, that takes you to, you know, to a better place. And, and I’ve had a lot of experience of that. I actually, you know, I often actually do talk to a lot of people about dealing with conflict, because it’s something that I don’t think we necessarily have as a good muscle. I don’t think we’re taught to deal with conflict necessarily.

Dr Josephine Palermo (26:17):

We’re not in a productive way in the, the kind of normal kind of family socialization or in society. So, but there are really constructive ways you can, you can deal with conflict. And so, for example, in my businesses, I’m always carving out time to review the partnership. So you carve out, like, it might be every quarter or every half year doesn’t have to be every week, but every quarter or every half year, you review the partnership and you say, well, you know, how are we going? Are there, is there anything I’m doing that’s really annoying you? Is there, you know, is there anything you’re doing that’s really annoying me. Is there anything we we’d like to bring into the relationship a little bit more? So it could be, you know, that, that opens the door to, well, you know, I’d like to communicate more, or I’d like to, I’d like to have my ideas heard more before you, you kind of shut them down. So I, or I’d like to I’d like to be able to, you know, run a part of a project on my own and maybe fail a little bit before, before you kind of have a view on it.

Christy Mori (27:36):

Yeah. Yeah. Like fail forwards. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr Josephine Palermo (27:41):

So you can discuss those things in a very constructive way. I mean, often co-founders had business coaches to help them do this. And I mean, I often somewhat rely on some of the tools of my trade. And so, so there are also some structural things you can do. There are some really kind of neat sort of structural ways to, to kind of carve out a conversation and I’ll give you one, this is one that I really like in terms of a retrospective, and you can use this with the team as well, but you can look at, so for example, you know, how did, how has our relationship, our business relationship going over the last three months or last six months? And you can, you can just talk about it in terms of four quadrants. What have you liked? What has been lagging? What have you learned about each other or about the relationship and what are you longing for?

Dr Josephine Palermo (28:34):

So it’s called four L’s, that structure. So it’s liked, lacked, learned, longing for, and when you sort of do that, it kind of opens up the room to have a discussion about things that maybe you haven’t wanted to raise, or maybe you haven’t had time to raise, because also when you run a business, it’s like, go, go, go. And sometimes you don’t have time. You let things slide because, you know, you, you, again, your, your you’re doing it for the benefit of the business, but if you keep letting things slide that then forms resentment. So you can’t keep letting things slide. So I keep having this sort of mantra in terms of, I cannot you know, I can not keep letting things go or I have to lean into the conflict, but if you don’t have to lean in at the time that something happens, because sometimes that’s not the appropriate time, but you have to lean into the conflict at some time. And it’s always…

Christy Mori (29:32):

Not just shut down, obviously. Yeah. Not just shut down or which is a common response. Yeah. And it’s unresolved basically.

Dr Josephine Palermo (29:43):

That’s right. That’s right. And I think that we’ve had, you know, a lot of people hear stories about founders breaking up or, or perhaps, you know where one of the business partners buys out the other business partner and it’s not in good terms. And I think that that’s probably that’s a breakdown in the relationship, but I, but I’m sure that there are, there has been a buildup along the way that actually could have been circumvented.

Christy Mori (30:13):

If it was addressed properly. And if it wasn’t so pushed back. Yeah. That’s a great, yeah. That’s a great thing to end up today and wrap up on, but relationships month guys. So everybody thank you for listening as always. And please email us your questions, but I feel like this is going to be a really fun one where we get to really delve into all aspects of relationships and business. So we hope that you do ask us your questions and yeah, we’ll chat with you next time. So next week, I think it might be interesting to do like romantic relationships in the workplace, but we’re not like a trashy magazine style podcast, but we’ll, we’ll approach it in a fun, but professional manner cause I had a conversation. Yeah. So Jo and I will go behind the scenes and we will talk about that. But yeah, someone asked me recently if we would be doing that. So maybe. So tune in next week and yeah. Have a great week everybody and yeah, we’ll catch you next time. Bye.

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