Real You: Passages

My father-in-law, Harley E. Rouda Sr., died last Thursday. He lived a great life, accomplished so much, raised four kids, started a business that still survives today and, he loved to laugh. What's more, he was a trailblazer who welcomed women into management positions in the real estate industry long before most others. My husband and his dad were incredibly close - a type of bond you hope for between a father and son, a kid and a parent. But you know what else? He also was incredibly close to my children. He was a great grandfather to our four kids. Present, loving, giving, teasing, laughing. He was there and they knew it.

Unfortunately, my children were too young to remember their great grandparents before they died. So this, their beloved grandpa was the first person they loved who passed away. First funeral. First memorial service. First burial. And while each kid has handled it differently, they were all deeply saddened by his loss. And will be.

Passages are hard, but inevitable. Before my father-in-law's death, I had been overly focused on the next passages in our nuclear family - another child entering his senior year in high school and my first, entering his senior year in college. One more year until the real world for him; one more year with two kids at home for me. That hollow sound of the nest emptying gets louder by the minute, but that's for another post.

These passages, while difficult, are surmountable and they're important steps in life. Death, the final passage, puts all of the daily hurdles and blessings disguised as life changes into perspective. I'm going to try to remember that for the coming years.

Just as I'll always remember my father-in-law's twinkling blue eyes and his wonderful smile. As he said the last time I saw him over Memorial Day weekend: "This is it. If you keep laughing, keep having fun, you keep going. You could live forever." And he will, in our hearts and in the comfort of God's embrace.

Real You: Another type of labor day

The other family membersDylan and the Director, Jeff Daniels My youngest son, Dylan, is an actor and he just booked his first professional job out in LA. The reason it's relevant to Labor Day? The show is a Discovery Health series, in its fourth season, called "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant". Really.

Each episode features two real-life stories of women who didn't know they were having a baby until they went into labor. After having four kids myself, I am astonished by their stories, and apparently, so are all of the viewers who tune in! Dylan's character is the stepson of the woman who didn't know she was pregnant. He had an amazing time shooting both on location in Los Angeles and in the studio. The cast and crew of the production are great.

And what did I learn, aside from the fact that there are a lot of women who are pregnant and don't know it? I learned that the set of a reality television series is a mini-community - a family of sorts that guest actors drop into by day. The crew has a culture and a tempo, just like any other office environment. And I also learned, as a first-time set mom, that there are a lot of rules about my role and responsibilities. It's another setting where I'll need to tap into the Real You process and find my way.

I do know, though, when the director - Jeff Daniels shown in the photo with Dylan - wrapped and told Dylan he did a great job, Dylan's smile made the days worthwhile. He's following his passion for acting, and I am behind him every step of the way. Learning a new job, as "momager", isn't easy, but as with every thing you do for your kids, it's a labor of love whether they were expected or not!

Family Business: How to succeed!

Going into business with your family can be daunting, but not if you do it right! First, because this is your real brand, make it clear that you are the ultimate decision-maker in the group. Then, make sure each family member is qualified for the job, and define clear roles and responsibilities. If they’re not yet qualified, they can get some valuable work experience elsewhere before they join your team. Both my husband and I worked at other companies before starting work at Real Living. This is so important because family members are always being judged based on their relationship with the business owner—you! They’ll need that built-in credibility before they become a member of your team.

Once you’ve determined that they’re qualified, don’t allow them any special favors that would cause bad feelings among other team members. At the same time, don’t fall into the trap of holding them to a higher standard. That’s not fair either. But by far one of the hardest things you’ll have to master is to keep your personal lives out of the business. Equally hard is the challenge of keeping the business out of your personal lives. But you can do it, so, have fun!

To learn more about working with family members, listen to this podcast with Harley and I.