329 Matt & Amy Stefanik: All In The Family
What’s it like to lose everything, and I mean everything, and then pick up and start all over again? How does a marriage withstand financial collapse and the up and down uncertainties of entrepreneurship?
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business Couplepreneurs Edition, we talk about overcoming adversity, creating an intentional life in business and in love, and how the entrepreneurial roller coaster brought a married couple closer together because it forced them to truly learn how to understand each other.
Amy and Matt Stefanik were riding high in real estate when everything came crashing down and they lost three houses, their cars, everything. They had to start all over again and in the process they reinvented their relationship and how they handle business as a family.
Today we explore how to apply the best business and leadership practices to your marriage and your family – so everyone is united around the overarching mission.
And before I share this conversation with Amy and Matt, I have a special invitation for you…
And of course Amy Stefanik will be there because she and I are partnering on this unique mastermind experience – and Amy will be sharing her wisdom about how to create a strong and loving marriage by applying the mindful and evolved business strategies for a unified family mission.
Amy, as you’ll learn as you listen to this inspiring interview, was riding the entrepreneurial roller coaster along with her husband Matt, when their world came crashing down in the 2008 real estate collapse. Her experiences led her to create The Entrepreneurs Wife – a program to strengthen and encourage the entrepreneurial family. You may have heard her on Wings of Inspired Business already – and if not, make sure you go back and catch episode 136. And also pick up her bestselling book about her journey. It’s called the Untold Story of the Entrepreneurs’ Wife and it’s a must-read.
Matt, known as the Lifestyle Architect, is a marketing expert, consultant, speaker and a lifelong serial entrepreneur. He dropped out of to start his own real estate investing business, and many years later, is the founder and CEO of Funnel Buildr – an ecommerce software start-up, and Founder of Futimmo – a soon-to-be-released disruptive ecommerce platform startup. He’s also a father of three, lover of comedy, craft beer, The Ohio State Buckeyes” and with his beautiful wife Amy also a devoted practitioner of meditation, mindfulness and other conscious practices.
So are you ready for Amy and Matt Stefanik? I am. Let’s fly!
Melinda Wittstock: Amy and Matt, so good to have you on, Wings of Inspired Business.
Amy Stefanik: So happy to be here. Thank you.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah, thank you, Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, you guys are the ultimate couplepreneur. You’ve been on this journey together for many years and I want to go back in time a little bit to what it was like at the beginning of your marriage where Matt, you’ve always been an entrepreneur and on this roller coaster, and Amy, you at the very beginning were along for this ride before hopping on, talk to me a little bit about how the relationship began around that entrepreneurial piece for both of you.
Matt Stefanik: Why don’t you share with Melinda, how we actually met because it was around business. I was trying to convince a mutual friend of ours to buy a course from me. This was a long, long time ago.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah. So I lived in an apartment complex and across the hallway was a couple, they were friends of mine and they were actually also mutual friends with Matt. They grew up together in Ohio, I didn’t know Matt at the time, but Doug, was his name, wanted to introduce me to Matt and I was like, “No, I don’t really want to. [inaudible] anybody.” And he was like, “No, you’re going to really like him.”
Amy Stefanik: And so when I met Matt, when I agreed reluctantly, and met Matt, he was talking about starting his entrepreneur journey. He was dropping out of college, he wanted to get into real estate and he was trying to convince our mutual friend, Doug, to invest in him and buy a real estate course. And so that was my first really encounter with Matt and him talking about his big vision because he knew where he wanted to be. He knew the end goal and he felt like real estate was the starting place for that.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah. So, that was 2001. We had just met in September. And of course, this guy that she’s never met before and nothing like what she thought, because she knew Doug. Doug was from Kent, she was like, “I don’t want to meet any guy that you know, that you grew up with, that’s anything like you. No offense.” So when she met me and I was talking to Doug, like trying to convince him to invest in this real estate course, she was intrigued to say the least, it didn’t hurt that she thought I was attractive of course, but that was like, she was like, “Wait a second, tell me more. Cause I’ve never heard anybody talk like that. You kind of, you seem like you know what the hell you want in life.”
Matt Stefanik: And I did, and I was getting ready to drop out of college and … that was the start of how we met. So I’ve been talking about dreaming this dream, and talking about entrepreneurial lifestyle ever since we met.
Amy Stefanik: Like the first day. And it’s interesting because, growing up in the town that I grew up in, I always knew that I wasn’t going to stay there. I didn’t know like … I wasn’t going to be like everybody else. I wasn’t going to grow up in the same town, get married and live there and grow my family, I didn’t want that. I felt there was something bigger out there for me. And so talking to Matt that day, it sparked something inside of me that made me want to lean in. And so that was the first kind of interaction that I had with Matt.
Melinda Wittstock: So Amy, this whole idea of entrepreneurship was maybe a little bit like, “I don’t know, who is this alien who is talking about doing this thing?” But, it was appealing somehow, right? It was exciting. Did you see yourself at that time thinking, “Yeah, I really want to go. I want to be an entrepreneur too.”?
Amy Stefanik: No, it wasn’t really like an epiphany in that way, it was more of, tell me more. I was interested in someone that was thinking big because it made me feel like I was connected to something bigger than myself, which I always knew that I was connected to, I just didn’t really know how to put that into words at the time. And so talking to him, he was so different than everybody that I grew up with, everybody I met. My mom and dad were super conventional. My Dad worked, my mom stayed home and raised her kids and … I didn’t really hear the word entrepreneurship really at all, growing up and throughout school.
Amy Stefanik: And so when I met Matt and he was telling me he was going to create his own way, I thought, “How is this guy going to create money on a thin air, how is he not [inaudible 00:05:09]?” I had to know more. I wanted to know how he was going to do it.
Melinda Wittstock: And then of course you went and did that, right? Money out of thin air. So, your real focus, your initial focus, was in real estate and we all know how that was going in the 2000s, you know, really good until it wasn’t.
Matt Stefanik: Right. Exactly. And that was the first big challenge.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. So talk to me about that because when a relationship has a challenge, like a money challenge or anything to do with business that just suddenly has this unexpected impact, it can cause divorces, it can cause all kinds of things, if you’re not aligned or whatever. How did you two make it through that time? Take me back there. So it was 2008 and suddenly, or nine, or whatever, and it’s kind of, “Oh my God.”
Matt Stefanik: Yeah. 2007 for us … yeah, I think it’s just kind of a continuation of a commitment that was made previously because when we left, like when we met, we moved to Sarasota and Amy got a job. And I was like, “What am I going to do? I don’t want to go get a job.” And that was the point, that really critical point in my life that I decided, now is the time I’m going to do this full force. I’m going to go for it. And Amy was like, “Yeah, do it.” She made that commitment then, that we were going to do this.
Matt Stefanik: And it took me like three months to get my first deal. It was pretty scary three months cause we were broke and we couldn’t make enough to pay the bills alone, support our family. So after I did, it’s like it was a proof. I had already proved. So five years into that, five years later, it was when this crash happened for us. So it wasn’t like she was fearful, we were both fearful obviously, but it wasn’t like she didn’t believe we couldn’t do it again.
Matt Stefanik: So losing everything, It was basically a mindset thing of when we were losing everything and my attitude at that time, because I was still young and naive enough to believe this wasn’t a big deal.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah, we built a good success in real estate. We were flipping at first and that was flipping houses, and then we started buying and holding and fixing them up ourselves, and getting deeper into real estate. And then the market crashed and everything just started falling apart. We lost three houses, two cars, and we were looking desperately to find a place that the real estate market was kind of stable.
Amy Stefanik: And so, that’s why we started looking at North Carolina and we figured, “Let’s move to North Carolina. Let’s just get out of Florida.” And so we had to sell pretty much everything. And to say that it wasn’t challenging for me emotionally, it was really, really challenging. Because this was the first time that I had put my faith into something and I was so invested, and I got hurt. Through your entrepreneur’s journey, you get hurt, you get stung by the journey sometimes, but this was my first experience with that.
Amy Stefanik: And so I was really hurt that this thing that we had believed in, that was going to take us to this level that we’ve never been, let us down. And not only did it let us down, it crashed us. And so moving to North Carolina, it was like, okay, there was hope. We were going to get to North Carolina, and it was going to be better. We’re going to move forward, we are going to climb out of this hole. And, when we drove up we had sold everything, we had a rental truck, and … it was in October, I believe, that we were moving up. And it was raining, and it was cold, and we got to [inaudible] North Carolina, which is in the middle of nowhere. It’s like a speck on the map.
Amy Stefanik: And it was raining, it was disgusting. And so we get to this house that we rented sight unseen, and it was so disgusting, Melinda, it was [inaudible 00:09:08]. You wouldn’t want anybody to stay the night in that house, much less your children, because so far up to that point we had my daughter Julia, our daughter Julia, and we also had a baby then. And so I was like, “My kids are not sleeping in this house.” And that was a breaking point I think for me because I stood in this dirty house in the rain, in Rams, North Carolina. And I looked up at Matt and I was like, “What are we going to do?” I felt completely broken.
Amy Stefanik: And he looked down at me and said, “This is great babe, we have a story now.” And I didn’t understand [inaudible 00:09:47]. In the moment I was like, I’m literally, I’m going to murder him and no one’s going to find him because we’re in Rams, North Carolina. No one knows where this is. But he was like, “We have a story,” and anybody that knows anything about entrepreneurship, the rags to riches stories is what makes it so interesting, which makes it a story. And so I didn’t know then the power of those words, but I definitely know it now.
Melinda Wittstock: How did you guys handle the stress and the communication around, “Gosh,” the not knowing, the uncertainty, all the change going on in your lives. Did you have to work out a new way of speaking to each other? Or did this just all come naturally?
Matt Stefanik: I don’t know if it necessarily comes naturally. It’s like, Amy said, it was pretty devastating, but it was the attitude that, this is not a big deal. Not even this will break us. We’ll get it back. And I had to make that promise again. Every entrepreneur, every married entrepreneur, has to make the promise, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Matt Stefanik: It’s part of the hero’s journey and that promise is, “Trust me, I got this. Trust me, things are going to be different. Wait til this happens.” Or, “Some day it’s going to be like this. Someday we’re not going to have to struggle. Someday we’re going to get to travel the world and buy whatever we want, and live in a big house and none of this is going to be even a distant memory,” right?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Matt Stefanik: [inaudible 00:11:30], and I had already made that to her the first time. And so I just had to make it again, a new promise, and say, “Trust me, we will get this back and have total belief in that.” And from there, you just kind of correct course along the way. You figure it out, and you never stop trying. And so I wouldn’t say it came naturally as far as the communication goes, but we just never stopped believing in this dream.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. I think, Amy, you could have reacted in so many different ways than that –
Matt Stefanik: I think her response was pretty appropriate. She was devastated to think that and my response was pretty shocking. And so I went up to the store. I was like, “Oh, it’s fine. We’re going to be fine. I got this. I’m putting this on my shoulders, it’s my fault we’re in this position, I’ll get us out.” It wasn’t until I went up to the gas station to get some beer after we unloaded the truck. And I’m looking around, I’m like, I look at the teller, I’m like, “Where’s the beer?” He goes, “This is a dry county.” And I was like, “Nooo,” [inaudible 00:12:32].
Melinda Wittstock: And did you make any pledges or deals about how it was going to be different the next ride, up the entrepreneurial roller coaster?
Matt Stefanik: Yeah, absolutely. I have this theory that you loop up right where you leverage up, and it’s not like a rollercoaster where it’s a smooth kind of up and down, it’s more like a circular looping that happens because you learn, you continually learn, and then you get to a new level of expectation. So that’s a big thing. When we were flipping houses and we were … a $10,000 check back then was huge. And now if we made less than $10,000 in a week, I’d be like pissed.
Matt Stefanik: So, you have this certain level of expectation and you learn from your mistakes and you become more and more seasoned, and more and more experienced. And as time goes by, you learn from those mistakes and you … me, I had to learn to not be so aggressive and so optimistic, and kind of think ahead and plan for the worst even though I was really optimistic about things, to make sure that we didn’t get ourselves in this position again.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. So you’ve got that visionary, “God, it’s all going to be all right. We’ll be fine,” with the vision thing. And then Amy, what’s your role in that? Because are you the person who is saying, “Okay, well yeah that’s cool, but like what’s it going to take or what’s going to cost or like how’s all that going to happen?”
Amy Stefanik: Yeah. So I’m a process girl. So I love the big dream but I need to know how this dream is going to fit into all the boxes. And so when Matt has a big dream, that big focus, I can totally get on board but I want to know who we’re going to have to hire, how it’s going to work, how much money we’re going to have to pay out, how much money are we getting at? I want to know the details to everything so that I can start putting myself in a place where I can do actionable things.
Amy Stefanik: And so I think for me on this journey, the biggest thing for me, and I think the biggest thing that Matt and I’ve had to learn is, when you say communicate, is really knowing how to communicate with each other. Because then when you’re going through it, it wasn’t like this time’s going to different and this is what I want to see and do differently, you’re just living day by day. You’re just trying to get through and move on. And so when you’re young and you’re doing that, you don’t know that you should be healing those places that have hurt, learning how to communicate better. You’re just trying to get to the next place.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah. Amy Likes to say that, she holds the string to my kite. I am at visionary leader type when it comes to being an entrepreneur. I think high level and I think big, and Amy balances me out in that way, by being the one that holds my strength, cause otherwise I’d just be floating in the wind. But she balances me out. And what’s funny is, we later learned this was only within the past three to five years that, I’m an ENTP-A and she’s the exact opposite.
Matt Stefanik: Previously before, all these years, we didn’t realize, “Why are you questioning me? Why do you always have to know every single detail? Just trust that it’s going to work.” And then I realized after understanding what type of personality type she was, that’s just who she is. She’s just wired that way and I’m wired this way. And so that really led to a lot better and deeper understanding, and conversations, and communication.
Melinda Wittstock: It strikes me in business that the best founding teams, one person is the visionary and the other person is the integrator or the operational person. And how interesting to see this repeatedly now on this podcast with entrepreneurial couples, that there seems to be a really interesting balance around who’s the visionary and who’s the integrator in the relationship. And of course figuring out how to play to each other’s strengths, and let each other be more of who you naturally are. Is this kind of a conscious conversation that you have with each other?
Matt Stefanik: Now.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah, absolutely.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah.
Amy Stefanik: Over the past five years we definitely have embraced learning each other’s personalities and it’s helped a lot for us to be able to understand each other. Because before we were just like, “Why are you this way? Why can’t you … ?” And I think it’s like that with a lot of married couples. It’s like, “Why don’t you just be different? Just be easy going, or just be this way,” and it’s, they’re not wired that way. They can’t just be anything but what they are. If you don’t learn your partner’s personality and how they think and how they work, then you’re going to feel frustrated all the time because you’re always going to feel like they are on an opposite page.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah, I think it’s super critical, not just in business, but in any relationship. Is to understand who you’re dealing with. Because it was maybe four years ago, that I realized and discovered that I was an actual rebel as far as a tendency type goes according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendency Types. It was kind of a relief because I always thought I was maybe just screwed up from my town. Nobody could tell me anything. I didn’t take directions. Nobody could tell me what to do, and that meant Amy too.
Matt Stefanik: And so we butted heads on these things a lot because she’s not a rebel, she’s a people pleaser. That’s her tendency type. And so the way that she responds to expectations externally and internally are completely different than the way that I do. And then we also discovered the five love languages and realize that we expressed and received love differently. So all these different facets of who we are and how we’re wired, really helped to lead to better communication. And then everything else is just easy if you can really understand each other and communicate in a way that you’re not just so frustrated because you don’t know why they’re like this, or why can’t they just be like this, you let go of that all together and it just leads to a lot better in more harmonious relationship, in the home and then also in business.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. Well, so much of entrepreneurship is about succeeding and inspiring a team. And to really lead a great team requires you to actually have a lot of these skills. And it’s so interesting that entrepreneurial couples are kind of, to succeed in marriage and in life and in business together and all of this, you need to learn this, but you also really need to be able to apply it and leverage it out just even the way you run a team.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah, absolutely.
Matt Stefanik: Yup, definitely. These skills and these concepts are definitely relatable to your entire team, not just your spouse.
Amy Stefanik: I think that if entrepreneurs realize that if they implemented some of the strategies that they use in their business, into their marriage, what a success that would be. They are so familiar with these strategies and these tools in their business, and you can just flip it and switch it and put it into your marriage, and it kind of fits that way too.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I love that cause what a perfect segue because Amy, I was going to ask you all about The Entrepreneur’s Wife. Your brand that really does … it’s all about strengthening, encouraging the entrepreneurial family. So like taking lessons from entrepreneurship and making sure that everybody’s aligned, and of course this business, I mean your leap into entrepreneurship happened along the way in this journey.
Melinda Wittstock: What was it that made you really want to go out and find this whole course and all the events and all the speaking and the book that you’ve written on? What was the Aha moment, and what was the timing of that?
Amy Stefanik: Well, I have to back up. To share that I have to back up a little. After Matt and I lost everything, in North Carolina we started building it back of course. And that went into a different direction, into internet marketing. And I actually got a job in Corporate America. And over the next five or six years we rebuilt everything. We climbed out of the hole, we became financially successful.
Amy Stefanik: I was successful in Corporate America, Matt was successful in what he was doing, he started traveling and speaking all over the country and the world really. And we started drifting apart because the problem with just pushing forward, forging forward, and not dealing with things when you fall on this entrepreneur’s journey is, it always comes back and never leaves. And so you start reacting to things in ways that don’t match the current situation. You are being triggered by things from five years ago and you don’t understand it.
Amy Stefanik: And so we started to divide and we actually separated. On the outside it seemed like we had it all. We had climbed back out, we were successful, we were doing our thing, but our marriage was falling apart. We were not communicating, we we’re not doing well. And so our marriage and relationship was unhealthy. And so after we came back together after three months we decided, “You know what? This isn’t us. We’re a team. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We got in this for family and we want to stick it out. We want to do this.” We had a divine intervention, I call it.
Amy Stefanik: And so we came back together. And when we came back together, I made a commitment that I was going to go all in because … and not all in the relationship, but all in the business. Because for years people would ask me what Matt did for a living and I couldn’t tell them.
Matt Stefanik: She said drug dealer.
Amy Stefanik: I was like, I don’t know. He sits in front of his computer. I have no idea. And I kind of blew it off but what I didn’t realize is, that was painful. That hurt Matt for me not to know. And so I said, “I’m going to go all in and not only am I going to go all in, I want to know it like it’s my business.” And so I jumped in with both feet. And what happened was by me letting go of the thought of that’s his business and that’s his thing, and adopting the concept of, it’s our thing, it’s the family business, things changed for me mentally. My mindset started shifting and I started searching for people that got me, because the crowd that I was hanging out with, and I call them, my he should crew, because they were always telling me what he should be doing, I let those people go and I started looking for a group of people that understood me.
Amy Stefanik: And so I thought for years that I was on an island. No one understood what I was going through, everybody just thought we should be conventional and get a job. And so when I started going to these events with Matt and meeting other entrepreneurs, and when I would talk to them and I would tell them my story, they would say, “You have to talk to my wife. Please, if you would only talk to her and let her know that there’s someone else out there that gets it. She will not feel so alone. She will understand me better.” And I was like, “Wow, there’s a whole sea of people, they completely get me.”
Amy Stefanik: And so I started my search for something for, The Entrepreneur’s Spouse. And I found an article here or there, or maybe like a blog post, but there was really nothing out there. And that’s why I started, The Entrepreneur’s Wife, is because I wanted to create something that I needed for so many years.
Melinda Wittstock: I think so many of the best businesses come from some sort of lack, or some sort of problem, or challenge we have in our own lives. And Amy as you see this now, even entrepreneurial women who are married, still have some of the same kind of issues around how you balance business, and being in your business brain, but then switching into your romantic brain or your romantic body. The boundaries around all of these things on a day to day basis.
Amy Stefanik: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: How do you guys manage that? Because it’s so easy for entrepreneurs … we have this constant macro running in our head about like what’s going on with the business and what’s happening? How do you shut that off? Or, do you shut it off? Or, how does that work with everything else?
Matt Stefanik: For me, it’s about intentions and priority. So for me, early on in my life before we really got to our kids who were grown, they were babies obviously, their entire life I’ve been an entrepreneur. But one of my goals with everything was that I wasn’t going to be a workaholic, working 80 hours a week, I was going to have life balance. And I was going to be a father first. And that was the super important over arching theme of my life. Not defined by being an entrepreneur, but a father first. And so when you prioritize your life in that way, it’s very easy to structure your work day, and your work week, in that way to be available for your kids.
Matt Stefanik: So instead of revolving my personal life around business, I’ve evolved my business around my personal life. We were at everything. The kids stayed home, I raised them, or during the day, when they had to go to daycare. I would feed them, put them down for naps, give them bottles, change diapers, do all that stuff, because that was what was important for me to be there for them to always know that I was always there, not always working.
Matt Stefanik: So, there’s certainly points in your business that you have to get unbalanced. And if you’re a new entrepreneur, don’t get me wrong, you absolutely have to get unbalanced if you want to create something that you can leverage into this type of lifestyle. So we definitely had that. But it was also with the idea of knowing that someday we’re going to have to back it down and get balanced. And so now I don’t work after dinner. When I break for dinner, that’s it. I’m not at my desk all night. I’m home, I’m available, I’m around. On the weekends I don’t work, and it’s still that way unless I have a serious deadline or some things that are coming up.
Matt Stefanik: I schedule everything around the times that I know I’m going to work. But the great thing about that is when it’s work time, I get shit done. It’s, you allocate time for that, you make sure you get it done. Because I’m not working at night, and everything I don’t get done today, it’s going to have to wait til tomorrow.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. I love that because you can just bleed into everything if you don’t set those boundaries. And do you find Matt, that in working less, you do in fact get more done?
Matt Stefanik: Oh, absolutely. And that’s a concept that most people don’t understand. It’s like it’s some badge of honor to just be killing yourself working 80 hours a week.
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Matt Stefanik: It’s not okay to sacrifice your body because in the long run that leads to burnout, 100% of the time. You can’t just work til 2 o’clock in the morning, get four hours of sleep and think you’re just going to keep crushing it like that all the time, you’re going to burn yourself out, you’re going to exhaust your body, you’re going to get sick and fat and tired and it’s going to lead to bleed into every aspect of your life. It’s super critical to a really think about your priorities and what you want, first and foremost in your life.
Melinda Wittstock: And so, as a married couple with two different businesses, what do you do when … I guess the time or the demand you need to put in or the calendar doesn’t work? Or, you both have something at the same time, which is really important? or there’s some sort of conflict? How do you work that out?
Matt Stefanik: Well, thankfully our kids are old enough. Our daughter’s 18, our youngest is now 10, and so they’re pretty self sufficient. So if I’m on a call, Amy’s on a call, they don’t need constant supervision anymore. Julia has been critical, ever since she was about 12 years old, she’s been able to babysit them. And so that means, when Kenny was about four, she’s been babysitting. So, that has absolutely helped. But it does come up for sure.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah, it does. And there’s times when there’s a commitment, or an investment that needs to be made and we’re like, “Well, we invest here, then we can invest there,” and it’s just, that’s where the communication comes into play and that’s when taking off your married hats and putting on your business hat comes into play. Because when you’re talking to someone in business, there’s no emotion to it, or there’s not supposed to be. And so it’s really easy to get emotional when you want something really bad, and you feel like there’s someone standing in your way.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, especially when you’re allocating, you’re trying to figure out what to allocate into your business in terms of investment. Both businesses need investment. Which one, which mastermind, which thing, which … like how do you work that out?
Matt Stefanik: Well, thankfully for what both of us do, even though we have two completely different businesses, there’s a ton of overlap. Because all of the associates and people that I associate with in business, are entrepreneurs. She talks to the entrepreneurs spouses and also to do the entrepreneur. There’s 100% overlap there. And so a lot of the masterminds that we join, we’re both in. So it’s like if we can’t boat twine it, then neither of us join it.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah.
Matt Stefanik: And then a lot of the events that we go to, anything that’s a fit for me is typically a fit for her and vice versa. So it’s only really becoming an issue now, I wouldn’t say an issue, but there’s a thing where she’s going to have more events that are specifically towards women or you know that [crosstalk 00:30:19]-
Melinda Wittstock: Well, yes she is because she’s partnering with me. Amy and I are doing a really cool thing called, Wings Of The Empowered Woman, and these really high end retreats and masterminds for entrepreneurial women. And, Amy, this is a really good moment to talk about some of the things that you’re going to be talking about at that event, because every single high performing entrepreneurial woman with a six figure seven figure eight figure nine figure business, also usually has a partner as well.
Melinda Wittstock: And so we’re all really good at business, but how do we bring the business, the things that make us good at business, into our love relationships and into our partner. And I’m so excited about your talk. At this, we get a lot of great ladies sharing all their wisdom, everyone with a lot to give as well as receive. And I want to talk a little bit more about that specifically on this podcast too, about what are some of the things that we can learn from business that we take into our relationships?
Amy Stefanik: Yeah. I look at it like a brand strategy. We talk about, in business you want to have a brand strategy, you want to have a strategy for your company, you want to have a strategy for growth. And so it’s the same concept for your relationship. Create a brand strategy, create a growth platform for your marriage, for your relationship, for your family and get everybody on board even the kids. Because when you do that, then you have the one shared vision. And when you have one shared vision, everybody’s participating in, everybody can be on board.
Amy Stefanik: And so when there are sacrifices and when there are late nights, it’s easy to be more patient with that, because you know the vision down the road, you know where you’re going. Everybody has a plan, everybody has their part. And so the great thing about business and taking that business into your relationship is that you want the same things. You want growth, you want to have a successful marriage, you want it to be profitably, you want it to feel good, you want it to be fun. And a lot of people take that for granted. They’re like, the marriage is just going to be there, I don’t have to focus on my marriage, I need to focus on building my empire.
Amy Stefanik: And so when I’m talking about, at our mastermind retreat, is how to create a empire in your relationships. How to build something, how to structure your marriage so that you can bring the business into the relationship.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. I love the kind of branding strategy. In a way, it reminds me to hear you talk about this is that any great company has this kind of a mission, a why, a vision, strategic priorities, a brand, all these different things, where the team can get aligned. Everybody knows what are the metrics? What are the KPIs? What does it look like? Right?
Amy Stefanik: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: With this idea of aligning on mission and having that buy in, is so interesting. And so how specifically did that work in terms of getting your kids bought in to the business mission and the entrepreneurial lifestyle?
Amy Stefanik: Well, I think for our kids, that’s all they’ve ever known. It wasn’t like they had to buy in, they live it every single day. And what’s happened, what’s interesting with our kids is that they believe they can do anything. There are no glass ceilings, there are no things holding them down, they know that they can do whatever they want to do and they’ve seen us fail, they’ve seen us trip, they’ve seen us fall, and they’ve also seen how we reacted to those things, and to get back up and to keep going, and how we react to those things.
Amy Stefanik: And so, you think your kids aren’t watching your entrepreneurial journey, but they absolutely are. They live it every single day with you.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely they do. I think they learn more from what we do than what we say. And in this world, there’s a statistic that something like 50% of the American population is going to be a gig worker by 2020. So it’s like next year. A gig worker, meaning like a freelancer or whatever, going gig to gig or whatever, and even if they’re not building full blown businesses as an entrepreneur, they do have to be entrepreneurial. Kind of create their own brand and create their own luck in that sense. Do all of that.
Melinda Wittstock: And so to teach our kids entrepreneurial skills is so vital and it’s certainly not taught in school. So, how do you recommend doing that? I mean, just really, it’s just literally having your kids just observe you day to day de-stigmatizing failure, doing all of these sorts of things. Or are there any other specific things that you did?
Matt Stefanik: Yeah, absolutely. We have really good conversations every day. Dinnertime, when we travel. And that’s one of our favorite things to do, is travel. Take road trips because we get to spend three, four or five hours in the car and we talk about a lot of stuff. And they’ve also realize and know that this life is not normal, but it is achievable and it’s totally worth it.
Matt Stefanik: Because they all have friends obviously, and they’ve had sleepovers, and they get to see how other people live and how their parents are. But they also know that we get to take a spring break trip, we take two summer trips, we’ve got to go to Estonia. We’ve taken them skiing, and we’ve taken them on a cruise, and all these things that they’ve got to do in their life, they know this is not normal, but it’s a result of years and years of work. And that’s something that, we stress here. We don’t try to impart too many of our habits that we developed over the years but one thing that we do is make sure that we hold them accountable and they hold themselves accountable, and that’s first and foremost, they take responsibility for their lives and they know that they’re not victims.
Matt Stefanik: So it’s a great opportunity because of how much time we get to spend with them to constantly have conversations about everything. Whether they’re having a bad day or why somebody is talking to them that way or being mean to them, and … there’s life lessons and teachable moment moments every single day. When somebody bullies them, we get to share with them that every act, if you think about it, every act is either an expression of love or a cry for love.
Matt Stefanik: So somebody who’s hurt is hurting them. And so regard that person with compassion and understanding and don’t take it personally. They obviously don’t have the home life that you have. Just small things like that but it’s like every day it’s been indoctrinated into them that this lifestyle is not normal. They know that, but it’s also achievable and it’s also something that they can do.
Melinda Wittstock: And it’s also achievable. And I think you’re hinting at with the right mindset, and I know both of you are very spiritual entrepreneurs living in intention. And I find that the best entrepreneurs are … Sorry, I’m just going to pick up there. I’m seeing now that the best business conversations I’m having with anybody are basically woo conversations. That the most successful entrepreneurs are increasingly conscious or have involved consciousness, meditate, they practice mindfulness, they are in gratitude, they live by intention rather than by task.
Melinda Wittstock: Did this just slowly develop during the journey or was there a point in your lives where it was just a wake up call?
Matt Stefanik: I think a little bit by little bit, you start to get exposed to these things because I have this theory about our hierarchy of needs that you can’t really think about these high level, higher states of consciousness and meditation, when you’re trying to pay the bills. But if you’re struggling and you’re worried about paying the water bill because they’re going to turn it off on Friday, you don’t have time or mental resources to think about this kind of stuff. It isn’t until you get to a place financially, where all those needs are met, and now you’ve freed up your mind, and your energy and your focus, to think about these types of concepts.
Matt Stefanik: And so, yeah. What’s great is you develop these things over time, the kids get exposed to them, the kids now meditate, they understand intention setting, they’ve read the secret. We do gratitude statements at dinner, we talk about, “Tell me three things that you are grateful for today,” and so, as we learn, they learn. We’ve developed these things over years and I can tell you probably for the first nine, 10 years of our relationship, none of this shit came into view. We didn’t talk about meditation, or Yoga.
Matt Stefanik: Our habits back then were, I really don’t even know, cause I can’t tell you but, now, we’re very intentional about our habits, about our weekly routines of Yoga, meditation, and listening to audiobooks, and these spiritual concepts. And it’s funny the conversations you were mentioning, it seems like more and more these days, if people don’t know about these things, they’re more of the fringe part of our culture because it’s becoming more and more mainstream, which I love.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I love the concept that if you really want therapy, the best thing to do is become an entrepreneur because this is going to throw up every single mindset issue or unconscious driver, that is standing in the way of you, and the success that you want and you get confronted with it. And increasingly you start to, for some people, it just has to get louder and louder and louder or the circumstances more adverse until they finally kind of learn the lesson and kind of step into it.
Melinda Wittstock: And I find that really elegant moment is where you start to get out of your ego and kind of more into just being an instrument of inspiration. Like where literally in my meditation now in the morning it goes something like, “You know that I know that I don’t really know.” So I think I know, but you know, I just want to be opened up to inspiration right now, and help me to act on it, you know, spot and act on inspiration that’s in alignment with what I’m here to do in my earth suit. It goes kind of something like that.
Melinda Wittstock: And then being open or present enough to even hear those things is challenging especially when in different moments in your business, you get really stuck in the busy work cause you just stick, you’re on deadline or you just have a lot of stuff to do. Do you find that you’re very consistent, both of you, on these practices, or are there moments where you get off track and you have to kind of get back in it?
Amy Stefanik: Yeah. Even though you’re in an enlightened state and you are focusing on higher states of consciousness, you’re still human, you still … like in everything, you have to make a conscious effort to stay in that flow every single day. And so it’s easy to get out of those habits. And so yeah, there are times where we’re like, “Gosh, we didn’t meditate today.” Or, we really have … especially when we’re traveling, you have to be conscious and present enough to say, “You know what? This is important. We need to go take care of this. We need to step away and we need to do our meditation. We need to listen to our books. We need to stick to our routines,” because when we do that we feel different than when we don’t.
Amy Stefanik: And so we can be open to giving and receiving love when we stay in any states, and I can always tell for me, I get frustrated. I feel frustrated when I step out of that space and so I’m quick to pull myself back in.
Matt Stefanik: For me, it’s my habits are pretty routine. We’ve been in the same house for six years and so it’s very easy when we’re home to beat, to continue those. I don’t ever say, “Well, I got work to do so I’m not going to do them.” There’s no question, it’s non-negotiable for me. I have A routine and a B routine. And so on those A days I do this, and on B days I do that. It isn’t until we actually travel and all that goes up the window.
Melinda Wittstock: The traveling is hard isn’t it?
Matt Stefanik: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: I just got back from yet another trip and it’s hard to stick to your routine.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah. It’s because you have other demands. You’re there for a reason. You’re not there to just kind of live like in other place. You have to get up, and sometimes the event starts earlier, you’ve got meetings to do, but we do definitely always make time to meditate, especially in a new place. We’ll go find some water or some type of a beautiful spot outdoors that we can meditate in. And a lot of times we’ll pack gym clothes so that we can work out too. But as far as doing Yoga, and some of the other things we do, it’s really hard to stick to all those things. We try to get in what we can.
Melinda Wittstock: Matt, I have a specific question for you and for Amy too, because I know that you’re building another company now that’s very disruptive, it’s a very kind of challenging kind of technology, it has taken on some pretty big players. And so when you’re going for like a moonshot like that, does that change the game at all? Is there sort of a different sort of assumption around the risk, and how you kind of handle that? I want you to have a chance to talk about like what you’re doing and the big vision and how, if any way, going big like that or disruptive, changes anything in the relationship?
Matt Stefanik: Yeah, absolutely and it has. Over the last year we were building one company and at the same time allocating a lot of our resources to build what I believe is going to be something I’ll be working on for the next 10 years hopefully. And I’ve never worked on anything that long in my life. It’s not where it’s constantly changing, constantly evolving, the market changes, what we’re working on now is something that I hope we’ll be able to do for a really long time.
Matt Stefanik: And it definitely does change things because it’s like we’re looping up again, we’re leveraging past wins and we’re going to take those wins, and we’re not going to just rest on our laurels and say we’re fine. Because again, there’s that correlation between the hierarchy of needs … you always dream about getting a car or house or stuff or traveling, and that’s fine, but once you do that, there isn’t much more to life when it comes to things, like things don’t matter.
Matt Stefanik: And so you kind of naturally progressed into making a difference and impact. How am I going to use these skills to impact the world in a positive way and leave a legacy? And so those conversations are kind of what we’ve been having lately and it’s going to, we’ve said a long time ago, this is going to take everything we have. We’re going to have to go all in and we need to understand this is a make or break type of thing. We are going to go for it and we’re going to give it our all and we’re going to get rid of everything else. So it absolutely changes things. And that could be a little bit scary when we’re like, “Well, I kind of like our comfortable position that we’re in, in life now. Things are great. Why screw that up?” And it’s worth it.
Matt Stefanik: It’s worth it because ultimately, if we just lived a selfish life, we could continue to make the kind of money we’ve been making for years and travel the world and take care of our needs and buy cars and houses but what break would that do at the end of our lives? Like, what would we have accomplished? Really not much. So now it’s that point where you have to look at what, is my purpose here? What am I really supposed to do? How am I going to use this to impact the most amount of people for the greater good? Yeah. It’s like we’re going all in on this new project.
Melinda Wittstock: Cool. Tell me about it a little bit. What’s it called? What’s it doing?
Matt Stefanik: Well, it’s called Futimmo, F. U. T. I. M. M. O, it’s not something that we’re actively building because I do have another company that we’re working on called, Funnel Buildr. And until we can build that up and exit, Futimmo is kind of like our next project that we started to develop, things went sideways and this is what happens sometimes when you go for a moonshot. Shit doesn’t work out [crosstalk 00:46:39]-
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, I know that one cause I’ve been there in technology, yeah.
Matt Stefanik: Adjust and correct course along the way. But Futimmo is something I’m super excited about because it’s something that doesn’t exist yet. So I’ve been selling online since 2001 and everybody I meet and pretty much everyone that we know collectively, is selling something, right? A service, or selling physical products, whether is a software, there’s something. And so you’re having to use something online, right? We all have different setups. You’re using, whether it’s Shopify, or WordPress, or ClickFunnels, or Zacks, or JVC, [inaudible] all these things that are great for one specific thing, but it’s a trade-off because you can’t do this with it.
Matt Stefanik: Or if I’m over here at Shopify, we built Funnel Buildr, cause they don’t have any funnel building capability. So you have the best E-Commerce platform out there, and yet you don’t have any way to build sales funnels. And so we built Funnel Buildr for that. And so there’s this trade-off like with ClickFunnels is great standalone platform for building sales funnels, but they have no back end in E-Commerce like a catalog system and inventory system like Shopify does. So if you go over there, there’s a trade-off. And so you find that that’s the case with pretty much everything out there.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, you end up with this spaghetti of all these different like tools and, “Oh my God.” And you got to hire people to just make it all well, man. Yeah, it’s a nightmare.
Matt Stefanik: Wait, it’s just not simplified and it’s 2019 for crying out loud. We should have something that makes our business and life simple. And couple that with the fact that Amazon is destroying entrepreneurship, destroying the mom and pap’s of the world. And the practices that they’re engaging in are predatory at the least. They’re antitrust laws that are being broken, and nothing’s being done about it. Their employees are suffering. I have personal stories from hundreds of my friends that have sold on Amazon, had been victims of Amazon’s predatory practices.
Matt Stefanik: And so we want to create a platform that will ultimately compete with Amazon and give a sellers that’s selling anything online, a place where they can know they can lay their heads at night knowing that they’re going to wake up and their business is still going to be there, and it’s going to be running and working smoothly.
Melinda Wittstock: Ah, that’s wonderful. So, Amy, how does it feel because this is such a big, bold, awesome thing to go do, but it’s certainly not without risk, it’s hard. There’s a great book by Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz, the VC firms of The Hard Thing About Hard Things, because there’s so much beyond your control.
Melinda Wittstock: So, everything is kind of uncertain even more so. So when you look at this business, how does it make you feel and how do you kind of perceive and react to that?
Amy Stefanik: For so long we’ve been really comfortable. We’ve been able to travel and really just live an amazing life. And when Matt, first started talking about this, I was like, “Wait a minute, what are we doing? Everything’s good. Why are we going to mix it up? This is scary.” Because I never thought that I would have to be in a place again, where I was going to have to go all in, in such a big way. And really it made me have to use the tools that I teach. Cause when you come to a place where you’re like, “Okay, here we go again. Let’s go all in,” and it’s not like going all in 17 years ago, it’s going all in and such a big way. Leveling up in a way where it’s like Matt said, it’s make or break. If this doesn’t work then it’s a big deal. And so it was scary.
Amy Stefanik: But you know what? I have been doing this long enough to know that if anybody can do it, Matt can do it. And I believe in the cause, I believe in the mission, and I believe in Matt, I believe that he can do what he said, he can do what he says he’s going to do, because he’s done it for 17 years. And so, why not? Why not go all in? Because being comfortable is fine, but being comfortable is mediocre, and that’s not what we’re here for. And so, although it’s uncomfortable and it’s scary, it feels good to be moving again and going in a direction that’s bigger than we are.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. Such inspiring words. I have no doubt that you’ll get there. And Amy, I just want to say it’s such a delight to work with you on this amazing retreat and mastermind that we’re having, like so much fun.
Amy Stefanik: Yeah, absolutely. I love working with you too on that.
Melinda Wittstock: We’re building something really, really cool. So if you know, just a little shout out for our thing, if you know a woman or you are a woman who really wants a transformational outcome in business and life and wants to really level up in all these different areas and create a business that supports the life you want, rather than you just working for your business, if that speaks to you in a beautiful spa surrounding, please just take a moment and go to, wingsexperiences.com/apply.
Melinda Wittstock: We got two events, right, Amy?
Amy Stefanik: Yup. Two events. In September and November.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, absolutely. So spaces are going to go fast. So I’ll make sure that all the details are in the show notes for that. And Matt, how can people find you and work with you?
Amy Stefanik: Facebook’s the best way cause all my stuff is linked on there. So follow me on Facebook. Send me a friend request or a message, yeah. My name is fairly unique so it should be fairly easy to find me.
Melinda Wittstock: And we’ll put all of that in the show notes for the episode as well. And of course everybody needs to get Amy’s book. Amy, where do they get your book? Just on Amazon? The Entrepreneur’s Wife?
Amy Stefanik: Yeah. You can go to Amazon, you can go to the, entrepreneur’slife.com, and click on book. And it is the untold story of the entrepreneur’s wife. It’s my story and that story over the past 17 years, lessons I’ve learned, I don’t hide anything, I share all the dirt. So if you want to know about mine and Matt’s, dusty corners it’s up there.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely, and a must read for sure. Oh my goodness. It was so good to talk to both of you and like so many important lessons and just the way you both are so present in his entrepreneurial journey and using it as leverage to really be great people. I love that and you guys are awesome.
Melinda Wittstock: Amy and Matt, thank you so much for putting on your wings and inspiring us so much on, Wings Of Inspired Business.
Amy Stefanik: Thank you, Melinda. We appreciate you.
Matt Stefanik: Yeah, Melinda, thank you so much for having us.