Manage your relationships like a successful business with Aaron Shelley – Love Vitamins for Relationships
Aaron has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. He has worked with small businesses and startups where he developed a unique systems perspective on business and family. His work in the academic and business worlds led him to understand how related our families and business dynamics are.
He and his wife have run the largest Irish Dance school in Utah for over 20 years. He has built multiple companies, consulted across multiple industries and helped raise $54 million as the COO of a technology company. He lives in Utah with his wife and four children.
His book “The Family Flywheel” presents a proven process for building an unshakable foundation in your life. By combining three elements—strategy, structure and culture—you can learn how to create wealth, build better relationships, improve your health, learn more abilities and enjoy more freedom than ever before!
Make your relationship like a super effective business
Aaron says, “if people understand how families work, what are their different levers and how to make them effective, just like a business, they can be super effective. They can be super effective and they don’t have to fall apart and we don’t have to have divorces like we have. That’s really the big push that I have now is I just feel like families are the pillars of our society and if we keep knocking ’em out, it, it’s hard to get back your society cause it’s gonna collapse on itself.“
At LoVita, we believe the workings of a successful relationship are similar to the workings of a successful corporation. Or at least they should be. Successful companies have a mission and vision. They have goals and targets. So should relationships. Have you ever considered what are your values in your relationship? We covered a framework on our blog about Value Stones earlier to cover this in more detail. Companies are always trying to do the best and accountable to the shareholders and customers. The shareholders and customers, in your relationships are you and your partner. Similar to companies, most relationships need a strategy, which should be discussed periodically. Relationships need frameworks to provide it structure. Each couple is unique and you have to innovate and be creative to personalize what works for your relationship.
Aaron asks, for anyone in relationships, what is your strategy? The reason he created the Family Flywheel is to help partners align on their strategy, structure and culture because those are the big things that matter. He explains the concept of the flywheel, which stemmed from his experience as a Mechanical Engineer, where there is a flywheel of things which keep getting faster and faster and it’s this momentum that you can’t stop which keeps building further momentum.
Often what we lack in our home systems is the fact that we don’t have the same vocabulary. We’re not often using the same language and understanding of concepts like what do we want as a family? What are our values? What is our culture? What is our strategy? What are we trying to accomplish? These implicit or mostly implicit buy-ins that everyone has – like, oh, okay, we’re going to be a Christian House household perhaps – but there’s no explicit buy-in on what does that actually mean. Every family has its own flavor and the concept of the flywheel helps in creating another language that people can use to kind of set up that healthy household and foundation.
Aaron and his wife had at some point decided to setup their life around running an Irish Dance business from a studio behind they home. They made strategic decisions to get there. And even when doing so, their priorities were set. Aaron told us that, “my wife has always said like, if my family needed me, I would give up the business tomorrow. It’s very clear what her prioritization is.” What they wanted was a family and they figured out the best way for them to do just that.
Challenges why couples are not in alignment
What are the biggest challenge on why couples or partners are not in alignment often or do not have these priorities set straight. Aaron shares the below challenges with us. Listen to the full episode to learn more why these can be challenging
- People are getting into relationships to marry people who are like them
- People are waiting till they are much older to get married
We talk about an analogy of how relationships just like companies go through mergers and acquisitions. The fact that thinking about it from the business perspective – with business acumen – gives us concrete analogies to anchor down on so that we can get a little bit more practical with our wishlist of what are we looking for in our partner, or where are we in our life? Just like we do career planning, we can start doing, life planning. We can try to figure out what kind of a partner, what kind of a family am I looking for and thinking about it in terms of asset, strengths and weaknesses, opportunity costs rather than just being like, I just want someone tall, dark, and handsome – which might not be good enough.
Aarons adds, “the worst mistake you make in a business is hiring the wrong person. And the worst mistake you make in a marriage or in your relation in your life is gonna be hiring the wrong person, marrying the wrong person.” When people are in the job market (seeking or hiring), a lot of them know the answers to questions like – What am I looking for? What criteria should I be thinking of? etc – but not often we ask these questions when getting into relationships. Most people are getting into relationships with thoughts like “She’s hot” or “He’s handsome” which can be a start but there should be more.
If you’ve never taken the time to actually sit down and talk – about what are you both working towards – and put it on a page, then you are not working towards the same thing as you just think you are.
Check In after alignment
Once you’ve got alignment in your relationship – got buy-in from your partner and have your priorities set – how do you evaluate whether you are on the right track? How do you know if your relationship is successful or whether there is scope for improvements? What processes and what mechanisms do you have in your life to make sure you’re on track and you’re constantly getting feedback and updating – like a check-in?
Aaron goes back to the business point and draws an analogy with meetings in companies to family meetings. In Aaron’s case, his family has weekly, quarterly and annual meetings too. In these meetings they discuss what did we do in the last period, what did we learn, what are the highlights, what are the conflicts and then what are they trying to do in the next period. It keeps all their individual and family goals communicated with each other and help each other align to meet those. He adds, “if you look at most companies, I think meetings are usually hated. But if we get rid of all the meetings, then everyone doesn’t feel aligned. And I think it’s the same in a family. I also have a basic coordination meeting with the kids, but it’s like you need to coordinate the logistics. You need to coordinate and make sure there’s no like long enduring issues in the relationships that just aren’t dealt with.” Aaron for their family annual planning had put together a movie about things like where we had been for the past year with our values. This was so inspiring for the kids and they mentioned that they were proud to be a part of this great thing. As parents, Aaron and his wife are creating an identity for their children that they want to be involved in, that they think is aspirational and that is gonna help them in their life.
Growth in Relationships
Growth for companies is a very important thing. They have to be accountable to their shareholders showing that they’re profitable, getting more customers, building a stronger brand and so on. But if we think about growth in terms of your relationship, how do we measure and quantify that? Aaron says, “I break it into the financial resources, the social resources, and then the human resources.” He gives up many personal examples on what his take are on each of those and how we should invest in ourselves and our relationships. Listen to the full episode to learn more.
In the last few minutes of our recording with Aaron, he shares, “One of the big things that I wasn’t understanding was the value in social connections and relating that social resources and how much like my mom invested in that.” Our relationships in our community can actually have much greater magnitudes in our life than just having a monetary value. The payoffs from maintaining our relationships are massive and unknown. He adds “If you’re not investing in social connections, it would be the same as if a company said, we’re not gonna have sales and marketing. Which every company would say that’s suicide.”
- The workings of a successful relationship can be very similar to the workings of a successful corporation. Relationships can benefit from having a strategy, vision, goals and more. Keeping track of logistics, identifying root causes of conflicts, and keeping track of growth with regular check-ins can help you build a healthier relationship.
- Invest in your relationships with your partner and your community. The value of your network that you build with trust and time, has a much greater positive impact on our life than just having a monetary value.