Startups and mergers: marriage as a business
As I scrolled through my Twitter feed last week, I noticed this tweet: “get married in your 20s, your marriage will be a startup: get married in your 30s, it is more like a merger” interesting perspective@WSJ
Days later when I recalled the thought-provoking 138 characters, I stopped what I was doing and went straight for the online version of the Wall Street Journal. The essay “Advice for a Happy Life” by Charles Murray covered a range of advice for 20-somethings, and the marriage bit was only one of five points he made.
Murray encourages readers to consider marrying young. As the age of marriage for college graduates continues to increase, Murray argues for the startup–getting married in your 20s when you are both struggling, when you are both finding your feet, so you can grow together and share the experience. The merger–30-somethings getting married and combining households and big careers–lacks a “certain kind of symbiosis,” according to Murray.
I got married at 23. I was the first of my friends to walk down the aisle. Weeks later when I moved to England, people could not believe I was already married at my age. Eight years later, we are no longer leading the pack. In fact, by some statistics, we are now behind. We have not invested in a forever home. We are the last of our friends to have children. It seems to have evened out somewhere along the way and that’s just fine with us.
I can vouch for the startup marriage, but I can also point out many successful merger marriages. It seems to me that both startups and mergers could have huge risks and even bigger payoffs. Both can be incredibly stressful and difficult to make succeed.
Marriage is like any business. Sometimes you’re deemed market leader, and other times you’re facing closing up shop. It’s a constant review of what is, and isn’t, working. It’s number crunching and target setting. The days–filled with repetitious tasks and taxing negotiations–are long. The years–punctuated with holiday parties and vacation time and surprise bonuses–are short.
It’s work, plain and simple. But it can be, and should be, meaningful, rewarding work.
If marriage is a business and married people are employees, the desired employment conditions are the same, whether it’s a startup or merger.
Healthy working environment
We want a healthy working environment. We want homes where we feel comfortable and safe. We want to surround ourselves with familiar smells and sounds, and wake up to the people, pets and belongings we love and cherish.
Opportunities to learn and grow
We need to feel like we’re becoming better versions of ourselves. We want to grow and learn together and a successful startup or merger has to give us room to do that. As the business needs change (home ownership, pet adoption, birth of children) we take on more responsibility and new mindsets and ideas. We want to feel like it’s ok to question, to disagree, to research, to explore, to voice, to change. This goes for personal hobbies and activities too.
Responsibility and trust
We like to be counted on. We want our coworkers to trust us and for us to trust them. We need to be able to manage and delegate. At the same time, we must be willing to pick up the slack and run with a project. We should be encouraged to step up (and sometimes, to take a step back.) We want to say, “I’ve got this” and hear, “I know you do.”
Goals and purpose
We want to know what we’re working for. We want transparency and direction. We need to form a strategic plan and we need to keep our mission at the forefront of everything we do. We are a team. We get to decide what the future looks like. The key is setting obtainable goals and creating an environment where we can achieve them (refer to Healthy working environment). Regular check-ins are necessary.
We need to feel like we matter as much as the other person, that we are worth just the same. We want to be treated as true partners. We must feel that we have equity in the business.
We like positive feedback and praise. We want to feel valued. At times, we will need extra attention. We need to hear what we’re doing right just as much as what we’re not. We deserve to be noticed and appreciated on a daily basis. We shouldn’t have to wait until an annual review (refer to Goals and purpose.)
They say a business’ most important asset is its employees. People matter–how they work together and for each other. People drive success.
Whether we’re part of a startup or merger, we all want the same thing–to get along with our coworkers, to feel proud of where we work, to see the fruits of our labor, to get a return on investment. The risks are scary but the rewards are sweet. There will always be ups and downs, boosts and setbacks, highs and lows, pros and cons, good days and bad days. But that’s
business marriage for you.
Be the best employee you can be.