It Sucks to Be Sisters AND Business Partners

That’s exactly what my sister (and business partner) Jackie said to me yesterday. Let me give you a bit of the backstory.

Jackie and I have been business partners since we bought Frieda’s from our parents in 1990. Of course we have been sisters much longer than that.

And when Jackie became chief operating officer of the company in 2012, our business relationship was taken to a new level.

At that time, we implemented a weekly partner meeting on Wednesday mornings at 5:45 a.m. Yes, 5:45 in the morning (we both grew up used to the early morning hours of the produce industry). We meet at a local bagel shop. We sip our hot coffee and meet for an hour offsite to go over any company issues or strategic planning opportunities, and to update each other on our two sides of the business. Jackie is responsible for operations, quality, food safety, IT, and purchasing. I handle sales, marketing, HR, finance, and strategy.

Frieda's Specialty Produce_JackieFriedaKaren

Jackie, our mom Frieda, and I taping a commercial together

In January of this year, I convinced Jackie to have our meetings an hour later (starting at 6:45 a.m.).

But we still only talk about our business issues.

So, this week, because of the excessive outdoor temperatures of SoCal, we ended up meeting in our company offices in one of the conference rooms. The air conditioning made the room comfortable and for some reason, our meeting went long, without the distraction of the hustle and bustle of the bagel shop.

And our conversation evolved into a more personal, family discussion. We started to talk about our relationships, our kids…and then us. And that’s when Jackie said,

“It sucks to be sisters AND business partners.”

She was referring to the fact that we both feel an incredible responsibility in our roles as CEO and COO of Frieda’s. We feel responsible for the many dozens of families who depend on us as company employees and for our growers whom we represent. And we feel so responsible that, more often than not, we forget to make time and honor our own relationship as family members and sisters—and great friends.

I’m guessing this might be the case for you. How often do you put your work responsibilities and obligations before time with your family and friends? Do you miss a family dinner or brunch because you have a work event? Do you work late multiple nights a week, instead of prioritizing quality time with your cherished family and good friends?

Her comment was a wake-up call for me. And I think for Jackie too.

Years ago, we made a commitment to each other that our personal, family relationship would always be more important than the rat race called “work.” I think we got caught up in the rat race.

At the end of our three-hour meeting on Wednesday, we both felt reconnected to each other. To each other as people. As sisters. As friends. And the benefit is that it will ultimately continue to make us awesome business partners.

Take a look at yourself and your relationships. Is there any way you could enjoy life a little more with less time for the rat race and more time for personal connections?

Think about it,

Karen

Frieda's Specialty Produce_Jackie and Karen

Jackie and I doing a silly skit at our national sales meeting

3 thoughts on “It Sucks to Be Sisters AND Business Partners

  1. It is difficult for family members to be in business together but the Two of you have beaten the odds. You have been very successful in working together both as partners and as sisters. I greatly admire the two of you.

  2. Love you two and your mom. You are successful because you put family first. So proud of the wonderful people you are.

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