(EP15) How to End Your Business… And Keep Your Partner | Kirill Zubovsky

Full episode transcript -


Hey there. Welcome to co founders. I'm Alex Montrose. I'm Lisa Montrose, and we're here to peel back the curtain on what it's really like to run a company with someone who's more than just a business partner to you. We've been co founders for three years and married for six. But this show isn't just about co founder couples. It's also about friends or family who have taken the lead to start something together. We'll be sharing what we've learned from our own experiences and bringing on incredible guests who know what it's really like to combine love, family and business. And we're so glad you're here with us. Now, enough of the intro. Let's get into it. I think. Thank you for joining us. Another episode of co founders.

And today we have amazing gas career. I need you to tell us who you are, what you're about and running into a lot of good things today. So talk to me. What? Who


are you? Well, I'm


I'm a human start of that, but I'm also a dad


and an entrepreneur. I've had a company a couple years ago and then did a bunch of different stuff and now want to another company? Um, our first company. It was the one that I did with my wife. Okay, thus, you know, show right. But outside of that, you know, I'm just a very curious person that I love working on stuff that's interesting to me. And that's why I really have a hard time working for somebody else. Because there's just so much to work on your own that whenever I see something, I want to do that. Very cool. Awesome.

So what What is the current venture today? What are you doing? Ah, current venture is called smash Notes, which is a place where you can summarize podcasts. Uh, very relevant to what we're doing now. It's because I had a podcast of my own, like I just mentioned was called right, Dad. I mean, I still have it, and I really wanted to share that knowledge. You know, you and I go to record an hour right now, and then a bunch of people gonna listen to it.

But there's gonna be so much covered in that segment that is just really hard to deliver it to all the different audiences. And now in smash knows we can segment that it's and bids to everybody who's interested in specific subjects that we cover. Awesome. That's very cool. So what does I know you mentioned Rad Dad, right? Yeah. So tell me a little bit about what is ran down, right? That is a podcast. I started sometime between our first and second child. I was spending a lot of time with my kids. At some point, my wife and I decided that we're gonna invest heavily in her, like time with kids early on. Well,

their young in, primarily because I talked to a lot of my friend's dads who are interpreting Emerson Deal said, Oh, you know, by the time they're five, you like not going to see them because there's gonna be school after, like, after school activities. Friends like you basically do it now while they're little. And it's so true, right? Right now. Well, they're a little My kids are two and four right now, so they still won daddy time. You know,

they want my attention. I can teach them stuff. So anyway, says I was spending a lot of time with my kids. I just needed something to exercise my creativity, I guess. And if you look into mom podcast about parenting, it's always like people teach somebody something. I'll let me teach you how to change diapers and let me teach you how to educate your kids. Mike,


don't teach me stuff.


Just tell me stories. I love stories. You know, if something's relevant, I learned that. So I figured I'll start a podcast where I can talk to other dads and, ah, share their stories. And it's probably not gonna be relevant to 80% of people because we're so different. But if you find something that is actually relevant to your life, that is gonna be so important to useful, and you know that that was the point. And it's pretty, Yeah. I usually invite friends people I meet who have interesting stories, you know, uh,

who are in different places in life. So this is a bunch of stuff you can find. Their and your kids are older now. So you've already gotten through a bunch, you know, somewhere. I mean, you know, I'm like, uh what was that show? The Highlander. Remember the guy? They're, like, 300 years old, Like me,

right? Like a Highlander. Yeah. So, um, because I don't I don't look like I should have five kids, but, um, the youngest is three five. Ah, the middle is 13 15 and 18. So I got the whole spectrum. Right? So the one that's in college, you can now prepare the three year old. You know,

with all the experiences you know I have a question about Yeah, Um, sorry. Three. Jake. I don't know. We're here in Seattle, and so many people all want to get into lake site. You know, in Seattle, where Bill Gates went to school because I think Bill Gates is smart fight. Follow this trajectory and my kids are gonna get smart getting super exciting in life. Like, how did that work out between between three year old An 18 year old? You know, doing it to jump through all these hopes.

You know what? We're really So when we moved here, uh, that was with my previous wife, so I'm gonna give you some background. So, uh, I was raised in Vegas, moved out here in 2008 after the crash, and moved up with the two older ones. Right, cause I was for my previous marriage. The middle one is my my stepdaughter. She's from my current marriage and then we have two little ones. So when we moved, interestingly enough,

we can't move to Bellevue. And we've been in Bellevue sent ever since. Um, the our kids were like, two a year and 1/2 behind in curriculum from Vegas to hear. That's how bad the Vegas school system waas. Um, so they had to a lot of catching up. So we've been we've seen what, like kind of bad is already So we're very like we're not chasing any kind of other school system or get into this school or that school. Fortunately, you know, we live in the Belleview High School kind of zone and belly high schools. You know, now that the older kids were going there, I think it's pretty good school.

Um, so we've we've, ah, you know, based off word live. I think we've done okay, but we're not chasing some prestigious school because we think that that's gonna make a difference, because, in my opinion, I think it's more about network than it is about the actual education you get when you commit your kid to go into a certain school because they're gonna be networked with potentially high, you know, high earning, you know, individuals, parents you can. And then that's that's also a network for the parents as much it is for the kids.

Right? So, um, that's my take on it. What do you think? No, I like this. I mean, this just reinforces something. I've been talking to your friend just a few hours ago About how, uh, you know, if you want to get in, Yale is, ah, college student.

There's certain steps you need to take to get there. And if you want to have a 2.0, g b a they're probably not gonna take it right. So if if this is your goal, we have to work toward said But you have to know why. And there's so many other pass, huh? That's what I mean. Like having a three year old on an 18 year old. You get this entire spectrum So so now. Interesting. Instantly enough. So the 18 year old is now prepping Sze she made. She's deciding between organ are to become a duck. She might become a husky. We don't know yet,

right? So there's this conflict and trunk conflict there with her. She definitely won't go to UNLV. That's right. What s so, um, but anyhow, here's what's interesting. In the kind of shifting and how I view education at the college level, you know, the younger kids and even my older kids. I'm not to. I'm not gonna come down on them about their grades as long as they're putting in the effort. I could I could really care less if they got a deer in A, To be honest, um,

as long as they're not lazy and they and they're not, you know, committing themselves to giving that 100%. That's really the gauge for me. So if one of my kids today decides to say, Look, dad, I'm not going, I'm not going to go to college. Okay? So the question is gonna be well, what you gonna d'oh? And if they're, if they're just gonna hang out, then that's not gonna work. But to If they're going to decide to,

Maybe they're like, Hey, I'm gonna go into this field. I'm going to do this and we can have a conversation around what that looks like and it makes sense. I could be okay with that. You know, I'd rather see my kids not go through one. In another thing, we've committed to his debt. We don't want our kids to go into some massive debt for the sake of getting out of a four year college and then decided they don't know what to do and then be 100 grand to underground. You know, into debt. That's stupid, in my opinion. Um, so it's a little bit of kind of understanding what their motives are.

And I also understand, at 18 or 19 they probably don't know what they don't know what they don't know. So committing them to something that especially they don't have a passion four, um, is something that will have to take time to understand. But we all have college funds for the kids. That's the goal, you know. I mean, we're not removing that, but I did make a deal with one with the two older ones. I said, Look, if you graduate high school and both, you don't want to go to college. You could take those funds that invest in real estate.

You could start buying duplexes. The middle apartment building. I would support that 100% so you can start to build your wealth now and then start getting acclimated to understanding how to invest, especially into real estate and so on. And my 50 year old, in which he plays basketball is a great student, and all my kids are great. They're all a B students, so they do really well. But he was really kind of like So you're saying Dad, like, if so, if I take that and he starts doing the math around how much he could make and then over time, I'm like, I'm totally cool that if you are, his goal is to get a basketball scholarship.

So you just have to pay and then potentially float some of that money into, um into investing. Yeah, but if you borrow money from you now buys a duplex that he doesn't need this scholarship taking just regardless, go play basketball. That's yeah, that's the goal. Exactly. So, um, sorrow. So we're having It's interesting. We're having these conversations now. I didn't you know, it's weird to be hands. I didn't think I would come to this,

and there's a lot of things on like dude idol newme and go figure it out like my daughter. Come to me. The questions I don't know. You research it. Google, don't you know your wife? You have a business together. And, um, why even send your kids to college? So were, you know, would you hire your kids for your business if they just wanted Skip college? Well, here's a funny story where you like stories, right about here's here's a funny story.

So my son comes home 15 years old, comes home with a, um he likes to go thrift ing him and his buddies will go to, like, a goodwill or value village. Right? And that's their little thing that they do. Comes home with a construction company, Hoody and has Look, it's white hoody. And it has, like, the name of the construction company here. Cool logo. Right, I said,

Huh? I go. That's interesting. I like that. Ah, that honey you got on I said So, um, he's like, yeah, I got it for you know, I was like, you know, here's what's interesting. So here we have a company that we own and where it's supporting you, and it's actually feeding you right now. Um,

and we have hoodies. And yet you've never worn a hoody for the set. The company that's literally supporting you and I'm really curious est away. Why? You're not willing to put on Mon corps gear and you know it all, Dad. Well, you know, I go and and jokingly, it's It's fine. Look, the two little ones, we're going to go ahead and exit you out of the will, and it's fine. And until and then they wouldn't have a decision to make one day, too.

And then, if they don't want to decide to kind of, you know, support the business, then you know they can get ext out, too. And we will give away everything else. Oh, no, Dad, you know, I'm just all where don't worry. So became a joke between me and and the older kids, because till this day they've never worn any of our merge ever. And we're but yet the wearing all these random companies and not even, like, literally like a company that they have no association with. So it's it's kind of funny. Maybe there's a good hack in there. You can drop off


a box of military goodwill. I love that. That


is good. That's good. That's actually


good. Hack or just go around. You know, I think Redman, Seattle, Bellevue. Just next thing you know, all the cool kids are wearing your kids. Like I I should get a hoody like that. You like. Sorry.


Limited edition. Yeah. Yeah, that's all. I love that. So, um, I know we covered the leader pretty interesting. And cool topics. Um, tell me a little bit about kind of what's the dynamic between you and your wife? I know you guys. You said you you ran a business earlier on, and then what happened? Like, how did you not decided to keep be in business together? Well,

that was a venture funded business, and that's very different from, like, a traditional business, because the idea behind venture business that you want to grow it 10,000 x and, um, and over three years, we can figure out a way to achieve that. Ah. I mean, it was great to do it with your partner that on the other hand, and I think we started, you know, we were just engaged at the time, and, uh um,

here's funny thing you tell a venture capitalist that you're doing something with your significant other. They just, like, walk away basically really wise. Ah, because they know it's difficult. But, you know, it's if it introduces a different dynamic. And for me, personally, I think when you're making decisions, you're gonna prioritize your wife over the business. You know, 99% of the time because you're family, and so that's probably the hardest part.

If you're doing you know, in your case, a real estate business, it's a little bit easier because you're in it together for the sake of you and your family, right? So it's a lot easier to negotiate and figure out, even if you're doing something that's not necessarily in the best interest of the business today, it's in the best interest of your family. Today in the business will catch up over a time when your goal is to girl the business. You kind of have to maximize the business, so that creates an interesting dynamic. That's probably not good for business, and that's all. And so you know, eventually, we son said that company and worked in different things right now,

I work on my thing. She works on her own. And, ah, we kind of alternate the kids. What we have going on is basically, she takes kids for one day, two kids for one day, and we do that for six days a week. And then, you know where there's a family day? Um, it's a little hectic. Um, kids kind of caught up to it, though.

They like it. They know that you know, Tamara's Mommy's Day. Although the last months has been basically Daddy's Day because she was on international traveling and ah, that was fun. I would recommend that, uh um, yeah, but it works out. I think. Like, if your goal is to make the family work, then you could make the work work? Yeah. What? Um,

when you guys were Now that you're not in business together, do you have the same challenges you like? Did you carry any of those same clemency challenges? Let's just say the that those dynamics of when you work together did some of those other remnants of the way you know the way that you guys operated as a couple when you were in business together. Are you Did you take any of those Same kind of the same dynamics And did they care over to now that you're not visit together the way you interact with her, the way you what does that look like? When? Because it changes right there is that dynamic. When you're in business with your spouse that you you know, you separate your laying, you work. You know, this is what we do together. This is these are the thing. This is why I do this, what you do.

Let's not talk about business on this day. Let's you know all these little rules and hard lines you set. Do you do that? Carry over after your not in business together a last little bit differently because I think what's important for me. If you are in business together, you have to have clear separation off authority over or ownership over, you know, areas of business. Uh, so, you know, coating marketing. What have you sales. You have to own a channel and kind of be responsible for that and not have a significant other. Tried to interfere with that. This way you'll be able to give better feedback on her side.

and vice versa. So kind of transitioning to now where she works on her own business and I'm on my own. I think it's a lot easier for us both to look at each other. It's business and look at it independently and just give feedback that made this not necessarily be the most friendly feedback. I mean, you should. You should give feedback and empathize with the person working in a company. But you can also be very honest about it and direct. And both of us realized that we're not trying to hurt each other, which is being very honest and pushing each other forward helps both the family and the companies. Uh, so I think that's the learning that I carried for. You should own what you're working on, and then basically, you'll be able to focus and take feedback. But you shouldn't overlap with your partner on your responsibilities.

Do you guys everything about? Is there any ideas floating out there that you're like, Hey, this is something we could do together again. Uh, yeah. Sometimes it's hard, though, because for me, for me, at least personally, it would be hard to work on something together. outside of kids because I think you can do one thing well. And if we're already doing kids well together, if we makes business into it, it would.

It would complicate things now would rather not. We say with kids would expand on that a little bit wasn't like, I think you have to consciously work at making a family work, got S o. And that's a full time job, even if you're not approaching it as a job. Every time you make decisions, you do something together. You know, even daily things like cooking and cleaning and silly. But you like, you have to share those and you have to focus on those. So that becomes, in a sense of a job that you're doing together. And that's almost enough. Yeah,

that's that's interesting. It's like, Why add another thing into the mix wing when that itself is, I mean, when it's high priority into takes a lot of time. Yeah. I mean, you know, it seems like it's working out for you. Yeah, but it's hard. And we especially here in Bellevue, um, very often, uh, still in our society.

And, you know, this is something that come out from conversations and read that as well. It's still very male, dominant society and very often a lot of responsibilities that pushed on Mom's. And that's, um that's unfair because being uninvolved at, I can see just how hard some things are not necessarily even hard like they might not be mentally hard. But try chasing your kids around for a day. You know you've got five. Does those things have unlimited energy? And you're only getting older eso anyways families a job. So you should. I think you should treat it that way. And but how it like for you? Guess how is that working out for you in business together?

And five kids and different marriages, too? Right? So there's a lot of oh yeah, it's definitely we cover all the basis. It's It's everything. I guess we both went through Collective are both went through divorces. So our kids coming out of that had also understand how to be not understand but prove to themselves one and two that, um, improved. Ooh, I wouldn't say prove, but show I mean that what we got to experience is their resiliency. Being able to adapt right into new situations. So when we got married, our ability to you know,

she had never had, you know, here I come with what was two kids. She had one. Then we have our own, Um, but even that integration between the blended family took time to adjust and too kind of, you know, figure out. Then we include our two little ones. So then the older kids have to now figure out how to they adapt. But because they've been through a harder situation, the resiliency kind of its strength and right, they show that there's further resiliency and understanding how to adapt into a new family situation structure. We carry that into the business because we've been through these scenarios that building a business together create it has its own challenges, but at the same time,

we've been through a lot of harder things, and we've had to adapt to a lot of harder things than building a business together. Believe that or not, right, because building visit together is not easy. But the family home front and development of that far outweighs anything you could actually develop because a business you can just shut it down, and that's it. it's over, right? This doesn't go away. It continues. So I think going through those, um um, you know, those those things in life that we had to go through? Um,

you know, we were able to learn those. We learned a lot of valuable things that assisted us in understanding how to develop a successful business at the same time. Work on ourselves to be better each and every day, because we don't want to make any past mistakes that cause potentially a breakage in a family toe that be also what breaks the business. And that's communication a lot times, right? I mean, we just talked about that on a previous episode with, ah couple and the topic was communication and how important effective communication is to actually strengthening the marriage, strengthening the business and so on. Um, so that's definitely something that we're, um, you know, prioritizing is how do we become better communicators?

And so yeah, so that's a long winded answer. But the answer that question is probably I could probably go on for a couple hours on breaking it down that much further, but I'm curious. Do you get to the point where your fight. Oh, are you know surprisingly enough, um, it's weird because we don't fight as Muchas I don't know. I came out of another relationship not to say I'm not gonna, but it was a little bit more. There was, like, hot oil and water, right? So at times,

more often, that and I think, you know, surprise. You know, she, I think, came from those, you know, those temporal ations. So when we came together, I'll be honest. In six years we've been married. I could probably count, Not even on two hands. The times we've actually even raise your voice,

Which is weird to think about because coming out of other relationships, it was different. Um, so I just, you know, don't you just get me? You know, I got married at 21 you know? So what? I'm just a kid at the time, right? So I think it comes with age and maturity and all those other things. You deal with situations and conflict differently. Right? So So we know in the business in on the business front, um,

we take a similar approach. We don't We don't really argue about the business. If there's a disagreement. We'll talk about it. Um, we're good at, kind of like stepping away, getting time to think and then and then regrouping and then talking about what needs to you know, what we need to address with regards that conflict or disagreement. No, I love this. This is exactly what we d'oh. And frankly, I don't know how people can survive relationships where they do actually fight. Yeah, I just wouldn't know how to function that way.

But I've seen people who really need to fight in order to get a point across. And I'm just like, Whoa, that's like it's already complicated. That is, You know, you don't need to introduce any extra energy like so I love the supposed to just kind of come down, figure things out. Yeah, Um, so, you know, you've had a few businesses. You've had some, you know, situation where you you and you had that when our venture backed kind of deal or business with wife can you share a kn optimizing


kind of tip something that you've learned over the course of the years with running a few businesses that have really accelerated your success challenges he had overcome and something that the audience are that are in business together today, or thinking about going to business or I'll even say better yet, thinking and potentially about even dismantling the business so that they can focus on the family. What would be some advice and guidance you could provide for the audience? Well, he couldn't ask him. Easy question. Could you? Um I mean, I think the important part is to respect your partner and to realize that you're in it together, and so you have to work on it together. There's no point at hurting each other. I think very often, especially if you're type papers and always wants to win, even if you don't want to admit it. And I was, you know,

I was in my kid's preschool, which was three of the older ones at some point and doing some kind of exercise, and I basically encouraged her. But the T shirt goes, Whoa, whoa. You know, we don't encourage competition here was like, What do you mean? Then I thought about it for a second, like Oh, yeah, What I just said did encourage competition like you should totally with whatever you're making. It was Uh, but in a relationship there isn't. It is a relationship is because you're not trying to win.

Your winning part is to do something together, to advance your family, your business together, right? If you're not doing it together, it's really you're just get to prove that you're the smart one in the room that at that point in time and there's barely any value, you have to constantly keep learning and think very often, please. For me, if we're talking about something, I have a tendency to be a roll My eyes. How can she say that's clearly wrong? But at the same time, you have to tell yourself cold inside. If you're sharing this, you have to have to pause and actually value it.

This, like, should she learn from it? My wife is selling me something. She probably wants me to hear it. Therefore, it's my job to just listen. It's not to react to say what I think about it. That's that's not the point. So you brought up communication, and I think that's so much the key. You can figure everything else out. If you can learn how to figure things that s o for us. The reason our marriage is working is because it started based on my ability to communicate and not fight and kind of works everything. I knew that from the start, and we got married.

Basically what? We got engaged three months after meeting each other, all right, because I knew that we could figure things out, and that was really important in the fall. The folks, we're gonna be in business together. I think that's also important. You have to realize why you're doing business together, probably right. And to make sure it's for all the right reasons because, you know, you really don't have to. Yeah, it's fun. I think if it sounds like fun,

you probably shouldn't do because there's regardless of the business. They're going to be times when it's not gonna be all right. If you can help each other grow business, it should be in business together. But otherwise you just go work in your separate businesses. That's fine, too, Um, or find a way. Maybe if you can do it 100% together, maybe find a way to help each other without being in it together. I think that's also there's a lot of options, and you should really know what you want out of it. Yeah,


that's really good. Well, I know, uh, we're about to wrap up our time. I definitely want to get on to your podcast. Is it still rad, Dad? That's right. That Yes, it's right. That podcast doctor open to hearing good stories. I got a lot of war stories. Yeah, and, you know, we can do,

like, three hours in the worst thing. Yeah, I love it. Um, so thank you for joining us today. Really appreciate it. And with that said, thank you for joining us today on.


We will be seeing you later. Well, that's it for this episode of co founders. Thanks so much for tuning in. We have just a couple things for you before you go. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you could get the news episode right away. And please give us an honest rating in review. Wherever you listen, it helps others find the show. Speaking of which, this show is meant to be shared. We invite you to send this episode to someone in your life who could benefit from it by the way. You can check out the show notes for this episode for links to anything we reference in this episode. Plus, we're to connect with us online. We love continuing these conversations with you on social media and, of course, right here every week on co founder Fridays.


That was great, by the way.


Thank you. This is fantastic. I really enjoy this experience. Yeah.

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