Today’s guest, Annette d. Giacomazzi has built a business called Cast Coverz against the odds. Her husband tells her that he’s supportive and at the same time his actions are saying the opposite. This is a particularly tough issue that women entrepreneurs have to deal with as they build their business. Too often the significant other in their life has a problem with what it takes for their partner to build a successful business.
Men in our society have been taught to believe that it’s their job to provide for their family. That belief is changing. Today more businesses are being started by women than men. With this change has come a change that’s not always positive in relations between life partners.
In today’s podcast you’re going to learn some of the following:
- What passive aggressive looks like in a relationship where one is trying to build a business.
- Why having respectful conversations are so important.
- What the 3 type of women who have un-supportive spouses are.
- Learn what a healthy relationship between spouses looks like.
- Does not talking about your business at home help build a better relationship.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In the Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You are at The Sustainable Business podcast.
I am really excited today. We’re going to be covering a topic that I’ve not heard anybody talking about. It’s one which I think is an incredibly important topic.
We’re going to speaking with Annette Giacomazzi. Annette is the owner of Cast Coverz. We’ll get a little bit more information about what the business actually is. But what we’re going to talk about today is something that is a big deal. Here’s the big deal, you may not know this but most of the business formations today, the majority are women-owned businesses. There’s a problem that comes with that which is spouses may not be very supportive – meaning, they’ll give you lip service about, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Go for it. Yeah, I’m really behind you.” But when push comes to shove, your spouse may not be — especially if the spouse happens to be a male, may not be wild about doing laundry, or cooking, or picking up kids, or all the stuff that traditionally women have done in families.
But, let’s face it, the world is changing. The world has changed. Women entrepreneurs are becoming the majority. Women-sustainable businesses are not there yet. We’re not seeing many of these businesses become sustainable. Here’s my suspicion, and Annette will talk with us about this. It is that it’s because their spouses are not as supportive as they might be.
Let’s bring Annette in and we’ll start the conversation because I can talk about this some other time when she’s not here.
So, Annette, thanks so much for joining us and welcome to our show.
Annette: Hello! Thank you very much for having me. I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Josh: So, Annette, tell us a little bit about your business, how you got started and what were some of the challenges that you’ve been having from a supportive spouse or not supportive spouse?
Annette: Sure. Well, Cast Coverz, we’re the world’s largest orthopedic soft-goods manufacture. We cover orthopedic devices, braces, splints, casts, and boots. What I mean by that is that’s jargon for we make cast covers. So, if you have a cast, a brace, a boot, a splint, you’ve crutches, or you have a sling, we cover it. It’s fun as well as functional. It stops the scratches and sagging. It stops the ruining of furniture. But more importantly, it also makes our customers feel better so they heal better – and there’s a lot of data that represents that as well.
We got started—unfortunately, my daughter has broken 12 bones. She’s 18 now, but on her sixth broken bone, she broke her humerus which is the big bone in your upper arm. She was just 10 years old and she felt so betrayed by her body once again. My cooking is not really a comfort so I pulled out my sewing machine and made her a cover and a sling, and another set, and another set. Of course, the family went “ooh and aah.” But it was when strangers stopped us on the street and said, “Oh my gosh, that is so cool.”
My background is marketing and sales and research. And so, I realized that this was an opportunity. So we went ahead and started Cast Coverz and here we are. We have 24 branded products. We’re the leading distributor of four additional products. And we have a depth of products that nobody else has. We have a competition which keeps me on my toes. And we’ve had a lot of the different adversities – everything from my business partner at the very beginning and I split within three months – a lot of manufactured goods were not sellable for a variety of reasons. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And that’s all in the first year.
But probably the biggest hurdle that I’ve had to overcome is an unsupportive husband. Rick is functionally helpful. However, he has been emotionally detracting. And what I have found is there are many women in this situation to varying degrees. I have been coaching women because I have learned how to integrate what works and doesn’t work. Coaching other women with similar situation, the problem is huge.
And so, I am in the process of writing a book called ‘Till Business Do us Part. Part of it is because in the last five years, women have started businesses at a faster clip than men. But also, more women business owners employ economically-disadvantaged women. And we contribute at a higher level to our local economy than our male counterparts. But what happens is, when you have an unsupportive spouse – an unsupportive husband, we are detracted from focusing on the business and making it the best it can be. Women have a tendency to not create businesses at larger scales – that’s from half a million to and $1 million revenue or more. They typically only have one or two employees, maybe a couple of part-timers. And they don’t scale their business because there is a fear factor from their husband. So, the book has taken on a life of its own and it’ll be published sometime in 2016.
Josh: Okay. So I have a question for you. What is the difference between emotionally unsupportive and functionally supportive?
Annette: Well, in my case, if I asked for help, Rick is very helpful. He’ll take down racks in the warehouse. He’ll get things for me. He’ll fix things for me, that kind of thing. But he does it very begrudgingly. And the phrase that always comes to mind is “I pay for it.” And the attitude of, you know, “Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Why aren’t you doing something for me? Why am I doing for you?” is very prevalent and some of the other experiences – so my experience, this book is not a memoir. It’s really an opportunity for women to say, “Wow! I didn’t realize this is an issue.” And on the other side of the scale, there’s a woman that I know that her husband actually literally has to have-her—put her business in the closet before he gets home. It’s that bad. He will not allow her to speak about it, talk about it and think about it in his presence. Luckily, that’s not my situation. But that is a very severe case of an unsupportive husband.
And then you have the range that I’ve experienced with other women. I have a client that I’ve coached. She’s a CPA. She met her husband in college. She was getting her accounting degree, so they knew that she was going to be a CPA.
He’s extremely passive aggressive January through April – her busiest time of the year. This, to me, is just shocking because he knew what he was getting into. They’ve been married for over 20 years. So there’s a varying degree of unsupportive, emotionally detracting where you have to continually use your brain power, your brain space which should be used to scale your business, to grow your business, to create the culture of your company, to nurture your employees, to focus on your customers on placating your husband’s emotional state.
Josh: So, what have you done personally that’s allowed you to manage this in some way or other?
Annette: One thing that’s very important is to identify what the fear is because typically when a husband’s coming at you with barbs or passive-aggressive tendencies – that type of thing, there’s some kind of fear. There’s something they’re fearful of. So, if you can have the conversation in a respectful manner, that’s really important – the respectful manner, and ask “What are you fearful of?”
In some cases, it could be “I think you’re spending our retirement money” because some women have their IRAs for the business. You know, “I don’t want to be stuck doing the dishes or taking care of the kids.” So you need to find out what the issue is. You can’t tackle it unless you know.
But, I’d like to back up a little bit because the survey is identifying primarily three different groups of women. There’s the group of women that are in really abusive relationships and that mean anything from emotional abuse, like the woman that has to put her business in the closet. That is emotional abuse. I mean, that is non-supportive. It’s an unhealthy environment. That is a tragedy. That is something that she needs to get out of. And she’s trying to with her business so she can take care of herself and her son. So, that’s one group. And that’s, luckily, a smaller segment of the group.
Then there’s the group where, I say I fit in, where a husband has a different range of support and unsupport. You can typically deal with those if you have good communication skills. What I’m learning is a lot of people don’t have good communication skills, so this book is going to be a call to communication. And I try to honor my marriage and always honor my marriage. It’s not easy because it’s counter culture to stay in a marriage. Our culture definitely suggests and encourages, “Oh, it’s not working out? Throw him to the curb and move on.” And that’s not necessarily the right answer especially if you have young children.
And then the other group is women who are highly sensitive to their husband’s suggestions. Men and women have different communication styles. And, of course, I think of Richard Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. For instance, I have a client who, she was talking to her husband about going to a trade show and he was kind of lamenting, “Now, how are you going to do that? You can’t pick that up. It’s hard for you to move that. How are you going to put the lights up on top of the booth? And how are you going to do that?” Though his approach may have been negative, if she heard his message, he was worried about her and concerned how is she going to physically handle the big booth as she had just had back surgery? So, that was the issue. Well, she came to me, she said, “See? That’s it. He’s unsupportive. He doesn’t—“ No, no, that is not accurate. That was truly her sensitivity to his concern. His approach could be better. And then again, that’s a part of the communication style.
So, to summarize, there’s three types of women. There’s the smaller group but it’s the tragic group who are in really abusive relationships. And then you have the larger group where the husband is emotionally unsupportive and can be passive-aggressive, can say things like, “Well, don’t you think you’re special?” Things like that, that are extremely negative and detracting and unhealthy. But it’s a communication style. You need to find out what the issue is. And then there’s the group of women who are just highly sensitive to any kind of suggestion or even constructive criticism, they’re highly sensitive. So, those are the three different groups.
Josh: So how many of the men in these relationships do you believe are threatened by their spouses having success—especially more success than they might have?
Annette: I think it’s a very large number. The old roles of the husband providing and the women taking care of the home are still there. And women can provide and do a very good job at it. But for a lot of men, this is extremely threatening because then, what value do they have?
I have two children. They’re in college. I was always very verbal about explaining to my kids that men and women bring something different to the table. And if it’s done well, it’s done right.
Their dad, my husband, is funny and can fix anything. He’s very, very street smart – very fast, very smart. What I was concerned about is the media has shown men as being and that’s been the last 10 years, and that women are super. I kept saying, you know, “Men and women both have gifts and strengths. It’s not one or the other, it’s and.” That’s just something that I found that in a lot of these – the women that are business owners from a bakery, to a housecleaning, the CPA, when these roles are mixed up, it’s when we start getting some issues and if you can’t communicate about it—
Because we found out that actually, my husband is a far superior cook than I am – far superior and that happened when I had cancer. Towards the end of my treatment, I was getting pretty tired and he started making dinners for the family and they were like these five-course, incredibly creative meals. I just wasn’t like, even for 15 years. I mean, it was just fabulous.
So, it’s very important that we recognize that this is a new paradigm about women starting businesses and that men haven’t quite caught up to the potential that it could mean and the freedom it could mean in the relationship, and in the marriage, and in the family. It can mean sending the kids to college when you didn’t know how to do it. It can mean a lot of different things so we have to be able to address what the fears are and the traditional roles because women still are responsible for taking care of the home.
That being said, there’s a couple of women that I’m profiling in the book that are “in healthy relationships.” One is a salon owner whose husband works with her in the salon. He quit his job to support her in the salon. So, I’m using them as an example of healthy communication styles and the different beliefs and attitudes that occur. So, there’s a huge shift that needs to happen in terms of our traditional roles, beliefs and attitudes for it to work out.
Josh: So, if you give some women business owners advice, what should they be doing to make sure their business does not get degraded by a non-supportive spouse?
Annette: The first thing you have to find out is “What’s your why?” Why are you in this business? Are you doing this because you love it, because you have the passion? Are you doing it out of economic necessity?
First, you have to find out what the reason is. There’s no right or wrong answer. You just have to find out why you’re doing it. And you can have two or three reasons, but there’s usually one big “why”. And to keep that in front of you because you have to be able to convey where you’re coming from when your husband is unsupportive.
So, as an example, I have a woman who said that she wants to be able to have economic freedom – independence, but yet stay married. But he is very, very threatened by her business. So she has started communicating with him, “This will allow us to travel. This will allow us to get the kids to college. This will allow us—so, including him in the conversation, including him in the big picture as the us versus me.
The other thing is to have a meeting once a week, where you sit down and you air your concerns for one hour and that’s it. And the other part of the week, the negative comments have to stop. And then there would have to be consequences. And every relationship is different.
And then, for those that are in very serious situations, that’s a whole different story. I’m not a therapist. I’m not licensed that way but I will say this, “There is a plan that has to be made because that’s not healthy and their soul is eaten away by somebody who is degrading them and denigrating who they are.
Some more tips that I give are – have your husband come into the business and work. Even if you’re a cleaning company, you clean offices, have him do it one day a week with you if you can tolerate each other’s personalities. Have him see what you’re doing. What it’s all about. Even if it’s once a month, that’s fine.
The other thing that you do is you don’t talk about your business a lot at home. You ask the questions. You say, “This is what happened. Here’s what’s going on.” But eventually, everybody kind of gets sick of talking about the business.
The other thing that I suggest is asking your husband for advice because men do look at things very differently than women. Women have a tendency to manage a business on an emotional basis. And men look at things very practically.
If they can convey the information in a thoughtful, respectful manner—so, for instance, if you have an issue with an employee and you just need to vent or run it by somebody; your husband could possibly be a great resource. And my husband is a phenomenal resource. He’s very, very street smart. Quick and to the point. I often go to him to discuss things.
I have to manage it though because, you know, if he’s not in the right mood, I’m going to pay for it later so I want to make sure that I assess his mood which is too bad that a woman has to do that. Anybody in any relationship has to assess somebody’s moods to approach them, that’s too bad.
And then if the delivery is poor, then what you do is you say, “I can’t hear the message with this type of delivery, can you re-frame that without the emotion?” So, for instance, one of my clients, she came home and said, “Oh, we had a $1500-day.” And that was the first time she did have a $1500. She was very excited and he turned and snapped, “Well, how special for you.” And that was extremely deflating for her because she was so excited to share it and he was, of course, obviously in some kind of ego defensiveness frame of mind. So, she said, “You know what? You do not respond to me in a way that denigrates what has happened. If you are having an issue, you need to deal with it yourself. But this is a great thing that’s happening to us.” And again, she talked about us.
Josh: We’re just about of time. But before we end today’s session, there’s something that you mentioned which is understanding your why to be in business. I’m going to recommend to the listeners that you find out what your spouse’s why is also. And if they’re not the same, you’ve got to get on the same page.
Annette: Absolutely correct.
Josh: By the way, that’s the exact same thing you need to be doing in your business as well as in your relationships.
So there’s a lot of parallel. So, what goes to make a great company will also be used to make a great relationship at home. At least, that’s my theory and I’ll stick with it.
Annette: And I agree with you very much, Josh.
Josh: So, Annette, I really appreciate your time today. I’m sorry we’re out of time because we could probably go on for quite a while longer. But if somebody wants to get a hold of you or find out more about Cast Coverz, how would they go about doing that?
Annette: Our website is www.castcoverz.com. And you can also call our toll-free number 1800-CASTCOVER, that’s 1800-227-8268. That’s how you can reach me as well.
Josh: Okay, cool. Thanks so much for your time today. I really appreciate it and we’ll be looking for your book when it comes out.
Annette: Thank you very much, Josh.
Josh: My pleasure.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.