011 How to Change Your Life – Part 2: Cynicism vs. Inspiration


Cynicism vs. Inspiration via Calvin & Hobbes Totoro Style

Cynicism vs. Inspiration via Calvin & Hobbes Totoro Style. Art by Josh Mauser.

Show Summary

In this episode Leslie interviews Laura about her cynical reaction to the book Essentialism and together they find a way forward into the changes they need to make to dramatically improve Laura’s life. It’s a raw, real look at the mental obstacles that do their best to keep us from our best and what we can do to overcome them.

Show Highlights

No music today; we are grieving the passing of our friend Sarah, who was taken all too soon by cancer.


This is part 2 of the new series best titled: “How The Camachos are Changing Their Lives,” spearheaded by our reading of the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

The problem with the kind of book that is Essentialism, is that it can be discouraging and overwhelming when you are at your breaking point (which is where Laura is definitely at).

Apparently the proper pronunciation of Greg McKeown’s last name is “Mick-YONE.” We both got it wrong on-show. Sorry Greg!

Laura feels “inspired yet cynical” about this whole process.

Leslie gives a brief summary of the first two parts of the book:

Part I – Core mindset of Essentialist

  • You have the power of choice
  • You need to practice discernment
  • Assess the tradeoffs between opportunities/problems

Part II – Explore

  • Escape – get away and get mental space
  • Look – objectively and critically
  • Play – embrace the wisdom of your inner child
  • Sleep – “protect the asset”
  • Select – give yourself extreme criteria to ID the most important stuff in life

Our current work is to create the mental capacity to even be able to explore.

Laura wants to point out how incredibly privileged the premise of the book is – that we even have the luxury of deciding how we spend our time rather than just living in hand to mouth survival.

She also admits that she doesn’t have as much of that privilege as she would like. :)

Leslie points out that because we have that privilege, we need to honor it by making best use of our excess time and energy.

Laura feels like she’s been in survival mode forever, and reading a book that seems to say “It’s your fault that you’re in survival mode; just get your priorities straight!”

Laura feels like she has a “vital many” and that the few things that really feed her get trivialized. She doesn’t see how it’s possible to narrow down to a “vital few.”

It seems impossible to Laura to find the time and space to enact upon the five things. She mainly gets mad when she hears about sleep being “The option you’re not choosing ‘cause you’re dumb.” As a parent, it’s usually not by choice that you are being awoken throughout the night.

“I feel like my whole life is being run by all these other demands.”

But Laura doesn’t know how to choose otherwise. If she chooses not to do any of the responsibilities she currently has, either Leslie has to shoulder them (on top of everything else he’s already loaded with) or the whole family suffers.



Laura’s escape would look like a month in Italy with one or both of her best friends.

“I might not come back at the end of the month.”

A more realistic version: Leslie could take over supper and bedtime with the kids twice a week so Laura could leave the house.

She would need exercise and mental space. No technology.


Laura remembers loving playing video games with Leslie, but in this season that type of checking out doesn’t feel right/healthy to her.

Laura admits that she hates imaginative play with her kids. But she does feel rewarded by their appreciation when she does engage them in the thing they love the most.


Neither Leslie nor Laura seem to have a solution for this area of their lives. They are trying everything. Probably time is their only ally.


Laura’s not in a place to think about selection; too much brain fatigue.


Laura’s takeaway from her reading is feeling “Defeated and angry.”

“It’s all stuff I want to do! But it feels so unattainable that I crash and burn as soon as I start to think about it.”

Leslie’s words of hope: “If it was insurmountable, the world would be drastically different. There wouldn’t be a lot of the things we enjoy today if parenthood actually destroyed the majority of people’s lives.”

Laura is a leader, and she can’t fire her team. (Plus, they are kinda useless most of the time!)

28:56 – Laura threatens to punch Leslie.

Leslie’s main message to Laura: “You’re not alone. Other people have solved these issues. We are going to get you there, too.”

The first step is to heal Laura’s mental exhaustion.


Leslie’s mandate for Laura:

How sad would it be if success for the Camachos meant 4 people thriving and Laura burnt out and miserable? That isn’t success! It’s time to bring Laura up to speed.

Every day this week, Laura will be out of the house from 5-7pm. Leaving Leslie to do supper and wind-down with the kids.

This means no housework, no errands, no work. Pure Laura time. She needs to be intentional with at least half of it; the other half can be play time.

Every morning at 7:30, Leslie and Laura will have a 15-minute Standup meeting to go over the day before and what is up for the current day.


What I’m going to do for you

Laura offers to not leave Leslie hanging regarding what to feed the kids. Leslie promises to treat Laura like a client – in a good way!


Show Resources

010 How to Change Your Life – Part 1: Breaking Point


calvin.hobbes.suzy.manga style by nami64

calvin.hobbes.suzy.manga style by nami64

Show Summary

In this episode we begin the epic journey of changing our own lives! We are going to talk about the breaking points we hit this week and then go into how we will change our lives for the better. And as always we close with what we’re going to do for each other this week.

Show Resources

Download the full transcript here. Thanks to our volunteer transcriptionist, Siobhan!

Show Highlights

The Calvin & Hobbes cartoon Leslie references:

The Calvin & Hobbes cartoon referenced in this episode.

The Calvin & Hobbes cartoon referenced in this episode.



009 “Kiss and Talk”


Earl and Gail Aargaard with their kids and grand kids

Earl & Gail Aagaard, 45 year marriage veterans

Show Summary

In this episode we interview Laura’s parents, Earl and Gail Aagaard, who have been married for 45 years. They regale us with some of their best stories and share their insight on what it’s taken for them to have a long-lasting commitment. They also answer the questions you submitted to the show!

Show Resources

Download the transcript here. Thanks to a new transcriptionist volunteer, Siobhán at SED Transcripts, for this episode’s transcript!

Show Highlights

008 Show and Tell Number One


Leslie discovers that the hot water pot is empty... agian.

The hot water for the coffee is gone. The Chief Espresso Officer is sad. Time for a new definition of done!

Show Summary

On today’s show we’ll be answering marriage and business questions from you! We’ll share stories you sent to the show. We have our first “vocal” contributor, Dr. Marc Wagner, who reads his poem and talks to us about why linear relationships are boring and sine waves are beautiful. And as always we close the show with what we’re going to do for each other this week.

Show Resources

[Editor’s note: This week we’re just giving the actual outline that we use when we record the show with little to no edits done on it. Let us know if you prefer an outline approach such as below or the more narrative approach we’ve taken in previous episodes. Thank you!]

007 “You can’t use vacation and kids in the same sentence. That’s your problem right there!”


Sophia bravely jumps off a boat as part of our vacation adventure!

Sophia bravely jumps from the boat into the ocean!

Show Summary

Today we tackle the timeline problem of vacationing with kids. We discuss if its even possible to take a real vacation from work when you are an entrepreneur with kids! We share your best vacationing with kids advice from Facebook and Twitter and then do our best to live the advice we received and share the results. (spoiler: It worked, mostly.)  Also, there is more kayaking. It might be a Thing with us now.

Show Resources


Download the transcript here.


Show Highlights

006 Life and Business without Sleep or GTFTS


Ethan in ninja sleep mode, ready to wake at the slightest twitch toward putting him in his crib.

Ethan in ninja sleep mode, ready to wake at the slightest twitch toward putting him in his crib. GTFTS! Close your eyes already!!

Show Summary

We talk about the real life repercussions of extended interrupted sleep. Whether its from kids waking up, insomnia over the big work project, hormonal interruptions, stress, or any/all of the above, sleep deprivation can take a major toll on our relationships.

We are suffering from two weeks of sleep deprivation (three now). We share how its affecting them and what we are doing about it.

And as always, we will close with what we’re going to do for each other this week.

Show Resources

Download the transcript here.

Show Highlights

We published it on time, that’s the highlight for this week. In all seriousness sleep deprivation is not some “hot topic” we researched and planned, its what’s happening to us right now and we’re doing our best to work through it. We recorded this on Thursday afternoon and have no time or energy to get much else done for the show. Any spare momentum we have has been devoted to paid work and parenting; the order of said application depends on the time of day.

I’m writing this at 10:41pm and Ethan just went to sleep. We are now into week three of little to no sleep for both Laura and I. Last night we got a brief glimmer of hope because he slept through the entire night. But alas, our oldest was up twice. Will Ethan repeat his full night’s sleep and start a trend or will one and or both of us be up multiple times again? Place your bets!

I’m doing my best to write this in a light hearted, non-cynical tone but it feels wrong to even make the attempt. Laura went to bed an hour and a half ago crying from exhaustion while I stayed up with Ethan. We’re on vacation this week hoping for some rest and restoration. Our daughters are getting it and for that we’re extremely thankful. But Laura and I? Not so much. Your prayers, positive thoughts whatever you want to contribute towards us is greatly appreciated.

We’re not on vacation alone which we are very thankful for. We’re in Olympia with a great family friend and her kids. We’re going through a trying period full of exhaustion but we have help. If we don’t get the vacation we dreamed of and hoped for we know we’ll have spent a week with friends building something that is way more important between our families.

This is why this podcast exists though, to share our collective journeys and stay real about how challenging this can all be.

We’d love to hear how all of you deal with sleeplessness and staying sane in business and family. We will give you extra bonus points if you all it in via the new voice message tab so we can share it on the show.

005 Gratitude, Communion, and Kayaking


Show Summary

Leslie and Laura invite feedback for the forthcoming Marriage Startup Moment show, find out if Leslie’s “Romantic Thing” was actually romantic, and then chat about family communion and gratitude.

Marriage Startup Podcast episode 5.


Show Resources

Download the transcript here.

Show Highlights

Trying to row upstream together is a cheap form of marriage therapy. Navigating in a kayak thoroughly confused Leslie and Laura. But when they finally figured out how to communicate, they enjoyed their kayak paddle.

Communion – a happy memory for Leslie. One of the few things that gave his family some peace together. It’s something that he always knew he wanted to bring to a family of his own.

Laura describes the rituals of communion and foot washing, and how their family participates together.

The key question they ask each other as they wash each other’s feet is:

004 Marriage Coaching Review: Love First, Fix Later


Show Summary

Leslie and Laura review the entire process of marriage coaching with Krayna. They spend time detailing the final coaching session, which was pretty heavy and healing. They talk about their intentions going into coaching, their revelations during coaching, how they are making applications of what they discovered in coaching, their reflections about the coaching experience, and what suggestions they might have made to their past selves to maximize the benefit of coaching. Finally, they make their final assessment of marriage coaching and make a call to the community to share their Marriage Startup Moments for an upcoming episode.

003 If Knowing is Half the Battle, What is the Other Half?


Show Summary

Leslie and Laura explore the difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur and how it relates to marriage and parenthood. There’s an update on marriage coaching, which made Leslie want to title this episode “It gets difficult.” They talk about things they are starting today that make them better parents and partners in life; and they close the show with what they’re going to do for each other this week.

Show Resources

  • Starting From Nothing Podcast: “Entrepreneurs Versus Business Owners. What’s the Difference? (iTunes link)
  • The “official” Marriage Startup Podcast contact form now! Use it when Twitter and Facebook just aren’t right. Speaking of Facebook…
  • Facebook page is live and working, come say hello and if you like us, then Like us.
    • Mandatory cute wedding cake photo fight at the end of this post.
  • Facebook Profile pictures and accompanyingphotoshoot courtesy of the amazing and very fun to hang out with Lesley Barr. Check out her professional work at:
  • Transcript, by Jessica Shaham Transcription Services, available in pdf download here.

Show Highlights


Laura realizes she doesn’t do All The Things anymore, thanks in part to the new, shared Definition of Done from Episode 1. Woot!

We’ve had more people join us in making their relationships better than we ever expected.

  • Update from the future: Thanks to all of you, the Marriage Startup Podcast made iTunes New & Notable podcasts list in the Business category. This only happens when people listen and then rate and/or review the podcast. You made this possible, you are getting the message out there, we couldn’t do this without you.

Main Show

Leslie loves the Starting from Nothing Foundation Podcast because it takes a very different approach to being an entrepreneur. Bryan Franklin and Jennifer Russell were guests on episode 51, “Entrepreneurs Versus Business Owners. What’s the Difference? (iTunes link). Leslie does his best to do justice to Bryan and Jennifer’s “Bridge analogy” but you should really go listen to that episode, it’s amazing.

The “Bridge analogy” explains the dissatisfaction Leslie has had. He explains how having a personality that becomes the solution hinders his ability to be a father and a husband or even just a friend.

How do you have a date with a bridge? (Spoiler: You don’t!)

002 The Idea of You


In This Episode…

Leslie & Laura discuss the critical difference between the idea of the person you married and the actual person you married. They also reveal how having a Dishwashing Definition of Done potentially saves you thousands of dollars; and give the first update on marriage therapy/ritual progress (hint, Leslie’s not doing All The Things).

Show Resources

Show Notes


  • We’re recording at 10:15pm, but we’re keeping our commitments, people!
  • Basically, having kids ruins all your plans.
  • Laura’s first adult conversation of the day.
  • Thunderstorms can also ruin your plans.
  • Stuff happens; you can choose to be faithful to your promises, even if everything seems. to be working against you.
  • And you can choose to have a cheerful attitude, too!

What is Marriage? Who is the Marriage Startup for?