Episode 26: Mike and Gaby Grinberg – Partners Mixing Business with Pleasure

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Gold Nuggets

  1. “When you are business partners, it’s almost like you’re married. You’re both trying to grow something together.”
  2. On running a business remotely:

    “It’s not for everybody, and it’s not just a matter of technology. In terms of being successful, one of the biggest things is operationalizing asynchronous communication.” – Mike

    “Look at all the key operations and key functions in your company, and put together a playbook for that. Having a repository of playbooks and instructional videos that employees can go to, as a remote worker, is so critical.” – Gaby
  3. “What many companies will do is they will try to take their existing in-office experience and try to adapt it to the virtual experience. It doesn’t work. You have to start from scratch.”
  4. Analogy: “You have the bumpers in the bowling alley. Not every bowler needs the bumpers, but if you have them there, you know that you’re going to end up realigning, and hopefully getting a strike or a spare.”

    “We’re going to provide the bumpers, the pins are there, you are the bowling ball – go.”
  5. “In the U.S., there are 1.4 million husband and wife owned businesses. Seemingly, it’s a fairly large audience, but interestingly, because of the situation, it’s fairly isolating.”
  6. Steve reckons that Juliet loves being on podcasts. Sorry Steve, she doesn’t.
  7. “Be so good they cannot ignore you.” – Steve Martin

Meet Mike and Gaby Grinberg

Our guests are husband and wife business owners, Mike and Gaby Grinberg. They are the co-owners of Proofpoint Marketing, and co-hosts of the Mixing Business with Pleasure podcast. Their entrepreneurial journey was kickstarted in 2015 when their daughter was born at just 24 weeks, with added medical issues, and simultaneously losing their jobs.

Smart Man, Smarter Woman References

We talk about a lot in each episode; however, we don’t want you to miss a thing! Here are some key items were mentioned if you want to take a closer look.

Website Recommendations:

Book Recommendation:
Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, by Simon Sinek
The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company, by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham

Stay Connected:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mbwp_podcast
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProofPointAgency
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/ProofPoint_PPM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MBWP_Podcast
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/proofpoint-marketing-llc
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mixing-business-with-pleasure
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEy3-ES0HcKczM1K2opoong
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9G668oG_lP9za3YM2QsP4Q

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Steve Loates (00:00):

Hi everyone and welcome to the podcast, Smart Man, Smarter Woman, a podcast for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Thank you very much for joining us today. I am Steve Loates.

Juliet Aurora (00:14):

I am Juliet Aurora.

Steve Loates (00:16):

We are your co-hosts. Before I introduce today’s special guests and that is guests with an S, let’s hear a little from my wonderful cohost, the smarter woman herself, Juliet. How are you doing today, Juliet? What’s new and exciting in your world?

Juliet Aurora (00:34):

There’s not a lot of excitement although we did have a little excitement right before we started this podcast. I had a cup of tea made, was settling in for a great interview and, of course, knocked it over and had tea all over my desk. Thankfully we are mostly, I’m not going to say completely but we are mostly a paperless office. There wasn’t a ton of paper that got ruined on my desk but it’s always an exciting way to get into the groove of a conversation.

Steve Loates (01:03):

Absolutely. I’m guessing you didn’t spill the tea on your keyboard either?

Juliet Aurora (01:07):

I did not. Luckily it was just the notepad that I had in front of me for this podcast pretty much absorbed all of it.

Steve Loates (01:15):

Awesome. You’re winging it then, you have no notes now?

Juliet Aurora (01:19):

I’m winging it.

Steve Loates (01:20):

All right. That should be great. Anyway, everyone, we want to get into this. As you all know, our goal with every episode is to provide some entertainment, hopefully, which Juliet already did with her tea. But most importantly, some value for you, our audience. Some insights, hopefully a gold nugget or two that can help you on your own journey. We have a great show for you today with special guests Gaby and Mike Grinberg. They are the co-founders of Proofpoint which is a B2B digital marketing agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Like Juliet and I, they are also husband and wife, which we know presents a lot of interesting dynamics when you’re working together and living together. I’m sure we will get into that a little bit on today’s show. Let’s bring in our guests. Welcome guys and thank you for joining us today all the way from Minneapolis.

Gaby Grinberg (02:24):

Hi Steve and Juliet. Thank you so much for having us, we’re excited to be here.

Mike Grinberg (02:28):

Yeah, thank you for having us.

Steve Loates (02:30):

Our pleasure. Now, there is obviously, we have a lot of things in common so there’s going to be lots to get into but perhaps for the benefit of our audience, let’s start out, if you could maybe take a few minutes and share a little bit about your own entrepreneurial journey and what got you to where you are today.

Gaby Grinberg (02:50):

That’s a good question. I’ll kick that off. It started, we always say that our entrepreneurial journey started out of a family crisis. Our daughter, back in 2015, five years ago, was born at 24 weeks. She was born four months premature. She had a very, very long NICU journey. She was in the NICU for six months. She weighed 11 ounces at birth or 330 grams for those on the metric system. At the time, our personal life was taking front and center stage with her birth and I had a lot of medical complications in my pregnancy. I was at risk and very ill. Concurrent to those things, we also had some challenges on our professional side, which eventually gave us the motivation and led us to starting our business. I had an emergency C-section at 24 weeks and really just a week after that, I lost my job. Talk about insult to injury. We went from a dual income family, making six figures, to now a single income family. No health insurance because I was the health insurance policy holder through my company at the time.

Gaby Grinberg (04:13):

On top of that, to make matters worse and dire, we now had a child that was now critical and in the hospital. It was a very pivotal moment in our lives. One that we, quite frankly, had no way of previewing or any way of knowing ahead of time that this would happen. I’m the first in my family to have these types of pregnancy related complications. We had no basis to go off of, first time parents. What the heck do we know? I’d like to say that at that moment, I became a stay at hospital mom. Same acronyms, same S-A-H-M but instead of home it was hospital. I spent six months at the hospital with our daughter. Mike was, thankfully still employed and working for a wonderful company at the time who had given him a lot of flexibility, paternity leave once she came home and the ability to work from the hospital, to work remotely a couple of times during the week. We pretty much lived in the hospital for those first six months of her life. Our daughter came home, she was born August 2015. She was due in December and she came home in February of 2016. In our household, we celebrate those three birth dates for her because those are very special days for our family.

Gaby Grinberg (05:41):

Similar to our daughter’s story of having three birth dates, our business also kind of has three birth dates. When I lost my job and Mike was working full-time, we needed to make up the difference in the lost income. Mike started consulting. We celebrate one birthday of Proofpoint is when he started consulting on his own. This is working a full-time job, having a critically ill child in the hospital, a wife who is recovering and now Mike is taking on additional work. He’s working nights, he’s working weekends, pretty much any free time that he has, he is working to help have that additional income. Then it was around our daughter, she was 22 months, just shy of turning two years old. I had gotten to the point, at that point I was a stay at hospital mom for six months and I became a stay at home mom for the next 18 months. Like I said, almost 24 months total with being a full-time caregiver to our daughter.

Gaby Grinberg (06:48):

I had gotten to the point where I was ready to go back to work. Being a stay at home mom was really not part of my plan. I had a thriving career, I loved what I did and we got to that point where thankfully, our daughter by that age was doing great. She was thriving. She still had some medical needs at that point, still required a lot of early intervention therapy and so on and so forth but overall had overcome tremendous amount and just doing well. We felt that, as her parents, we felt, okay we can now pull back a little bit. We brought in a nanny with a nursing background and then we eventually started Proofpoint because of that. Actually another key factor in the story that I almost forgot but I just remembered, Mike had, the company that he was working for at the time was requiring him to do a lot of traveling and overseas traveling. With a fragile daughter and me being at home by myself, we both recognized that we needed him to find a job that was more stable with his feet on the ground, not as much traveling because I needed more support. I needed more support from his as my partner.

Gaby Grinberg (08:01):

He found another job and it was a startup job but unfortunately, right around that 22 month mark, almost her second birthday, the company that Mike was working for at the time went bankrupt. They lost their funding, things got ugly real fast and so really, Steve and Juliet, the writing was on the wall. We knew that the company that Mike was going for was kaput. We had a very short amount of runway in terms of the salary coming in. I wasn’t working and the only other fallback option that we had was the consulting work that Mike had picked up while our daughter was still in the hospital. We kind of looked at each other and we said, “Okay, well, we can take these clients that you have and make something out of it, do something with them or we both go out and get corporate jobs.” The latter option was really not an option for us because while our daughter was still thriving and still doing so well at that time, being two, she still had, like I said, some medical needs where we felt better to be close to her. We also needed to be there for doctors appointments and early intervention. We needed a high degree of flexibility to be the kinds of parents that we wanted to be and that our daughter needed us to be.

Mike Grinberg (09:22):

Realistically it wasn’t an option for us professionally, either, because we had both been burned, if you will-

Gaby Grinberg (09:29):

On the corporate side, yeah.

Mike Grinberg (09:30):

… on the corporate side. I wasn’t burned, I was burnt out. Gaby had been literally burned.

Gaby Grinberg (09:36):


Mike Grinberg (09:37):

Neither one of us wanted to go that route. If we had to, obviously we would have but that was not really an option. The one thing we forget to talk about, Gaby, I’m listening to your story again which I’ve heard a million times, obviously. Gaby likes to say she’s an accidental entrepreneur and I’m a purposeful one but the reality is, we both had the entrepreneurial bug for a while. We never did anything with it, for the most part, but Gaby had a bunch of ideas that she was trying to get off the ground that never really got completely to fruition and so did I. Different sides, mine were more tech businesses and things like that. The number of domains that we own between the two of us, now that were supposed to be businesses is ridiculous. But it was always in the cards, if you will.

Gaby Grinberg (10:24):

It was there, really good points Mike. The entrepreneurial journey didn’t present itself to us or didn’t make itself clear to us-

Mike Grinberg (10:35):

It wasn’t forced onto us until this happened.

Gaby Grinberg (10:38):

… until we had to go through the trauma of the pre-term labor and a child with medical needs. Coming face to face with some of, what I call the ugly underbelly of corporate America. I would imagine that in Canada there’s probably some ugly underbelly corporate stuff, too. All over the world.

Steve Loates (10:59):

[crosstalk 00:10:59] unique to the US.

Gaby Grinberg (11:00):

It’s certainly not, it’s certainly not which is unfortunate for everybody out there listening because one of the things that we are so passionate about is really changing the narrative around the company culture and having a family first culture. Our journey with our daughter and me losing my job in a very vulnerable state, literally I was still recovering from a C-section. I was still sliced in half and I lost my job. That was really a turning point. At the time we were just angry and we were scared but looking back, it became a real pivotal moment in our career arc and the story of our journey because that sort of spear headed us into what we do now. One other things that I failed to mention is that both Mike and I have a digital marketing background. We were both in digital marketing but working for different companies, working in different sides of the industry and when we first met, when we first started dating and then eventually got married, we were adamant that we would never work together. We said, “That will never happen.”

Mike Grinberg (12:13):

I was adamant that we would never work together.

Gaby Grinberg (12:14):

Yeah, Mike was. He just said, “Nope. I love you, you’re my wife but I don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to get messy in that regard. We have to have separation, we have to have distinction.” Well, here we are today. Now we own a business.

Steve Loates (12:30):

Let me ask the obvious question, well I guess I’ve got two questions. The first and most important question is your daughter. She’s fine today?

Gaby Grinberg (12:39):

She is. She’s doing-

Mike Grinberg (12:40):

She’s great. She’s a miracle baby.

Gaby Grinberg (12:42):

She is a miracle baby. By all intents and purposes, being born at 24 weeks, under a pound, she shouldn’t alive today but she is thriving, she is delightful, she is asking so many beautiful, inquisitive questions that I’m saying, “I didn’t think you were going to ask me these questions at five years old.” Here we are. Thankfully she has overcome quite a bit. She still has a little bit of a road ahead of her in terms of some of early childhood medical and developmental needs that she has to overcome. For all intents and purposes she is just delightful and doing great. Thanks for asking.

Steve Loates (13:21):

Awesome. That’s great. My second question, okay, as husband and wife, as business partners, how did you make it work?

Gaby Grinberg (13:30):

That is a good question. Well, you guys know this already because, I don’t know if you release the video for these episodes of if it’s strictly audio but you are in separate offices. As you can see, we are in separate offices. That is one of our biggest tips that we share. Then it has been incredibly helpful for us. We say this in jest but partially there’s some truth to it. If we had to work in the same office I don’t even think we’d be living in the same house. I don’t even think we’d continue to be married. For us, first and foremost, the best thing that has helped us maintain our sanity and a little bit of division and also, more importantly, helped us to maintain more of our lanes in work because sometimes you can get in each other’s lanes. Especially if you are husband and wife and you are the sole owners, executive team of a business, it’s easy to cross over. It’s easy to blur the lines between relationship and the work relationship. For us, maintaining two distinct office spaces within our home has been one of the keys to making this work for us. Certainly there are others but that is the most salient one that comes to mind.

Juliet Aurora (14:51):

I have to share. When Steve and I started, we were in two different businesses. He had his own business and I had AIS Solutions. We actually, when we moved into our house, decided to set up an office. We had both desks in the same office. It’s actually in the office that Steve is in now. We thought, “This is great.” We had one guest room and then our daughter had the other room. We only had one room available as an office. We bought two desks, one for him, one for me, put them across from each other so that we were actually facing each other. I think that the only reason that worked was that we were in two different businesses. That when Steve moved into AIS and we were both in one business and we actually moved the business out of our house and into a physical office, we’d been working so long within one office we thought, “Well, that’s not a big deal. We’ll just get a big office and put both of us in the same space and then we don’t have to get as much square footage.” It wasn’t as successful because we were working on the same business. I absolutely agree that is key for both of us, now. Now we are both in the same business and we have two separate offices.

Gaby Grinberg (16:06):


Steve Loates (16:08):

I don’t think you’re being completely honest here, Juliet. The reason our partnership works is my charming personality. [crosstalk 00:16:16] This would not work.

Gaby Grinberg (16:19):

Well, Steve, that goes without saying.

Mike Grinberg (16:23):

I was going to say the same thing about ours, too.

Juliet Aurora (16:25):

You must be able to agree, Gaby, that Mike’s personality and Steve’s personality is so much more charming when they’re in their own office.

Gaby Grinberg (16:34):

Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more.

Steve Loates (16:40):

Okay, touche. One for the ladies.

Mike Grinberg (16:45):

It’s funny you asked that question though because literally just yesterday we were recording an episode for our podcast and we were doing a recap of all the interviews that we’ve done over the past month. It was a lot of looking at what we learned from other couples and how they managed businesses together. We were reflecting on the things that we do. The separate offices were definitely a big thing. Gaby kind of mentioned staying in our lanes. This is something that we’re still working on but pretty early on we defined our responsibilities. One mistake we made is we didn’t actually write out our job descriptions, which we need to still do. That’s on the docket that we have.

Gaby Grinberg (17:23):

That’s on the whiteboard.

Mike Grinberg (17:26):

But we’ve done the work to define who is responsible for what so that we’re not stepping on each other’s toes like we honestly did in the first year, I think. That’s a big one, too.

Steve Loates (17:40):

You’re right. It’s critical and we laugh and we make fun a bit. For Juliet and I, I think really for many married couples if they’re working together, your roles do have to be defined if you want to maintain a successful personal relationship and a successful business relationship. What we’ve always done is we divide things right down. Marketing and sales are my domain, internal operations, training is Juliet’s domain. We discuss every major decision and then if we do not agree, whoever’s side it falls under, if it’s under marketing the final decision is mine. If it’s under operations, the final decision is Juliet’s. I’m going to say 99% of the time, that has worked perfectly. That’s how it works for us.

Juliet Aurora (18:41):

I think that’s also true even if you’re not married but have a business partner. I think, regardless of the relationship, when you are business partners, it’s almost like you’re married because you’re both trying to grow something together. In this case, it’s not a child, it’s a business that you’re trying to grow together. But having those clear definitions of this is my domain and this is your domain, I think is fundamental regardless. I think it’s more important if you are actually husband and wife or brother and sister or two sisters because you don’t want it to affect the Thanksgiving dinners or the Christmas dinners. But even if you’re not related, I think the definition is still very important for business owners.

Gaby Grinberg (19:26):

Absolutely. One other little tidbit that I will throw out about working with your spouse, this is a topic we could go on and on about. Very early on, if Mike and I would disagree about things, I would argue with him like a wife. I wouldn’t argue with him like a business partner. We have a pretty solid real but I like him, he likes me, we respect each other, we love each other but just like any other relationship we disagree, we argue. Probably the way that we argue in our personal relationship needs to evolve as well but in our business relationship, it was a real sticking point. Now, we would never argue in front of clients. We would never argue in front of vendors or employees but behind closed doors we would argue. We’d get upset. we’d throw the proverbial mud at one another. One day Mike said to me, he’s like, “If I wasn’t your husband, if I was just your coworker, if I was the CEO of this company and you were my vice president in a company, we had zero romantic relationship, would you speak to me that way? Would you argue with me in this way?”

Gaby Grinberg (20:47):

I always joke with Mike, he’s, how do you say this, the John Wayne type. He doesn’t say much, he carries a big stick but when he does say something, it’s really impactful, it’s really brilliant. It kind of stopped me dead in my tracks because I didn’t have a rebuttal for that. Normally I have some really good zingers but I just didn’t have one because he was completely right. I would never and never have I ever, as an employee of a company, argued or spoke to a colleague or a higher up in that way. But that’s because I didn’t have that romantic and that personal relationship with them. But Mike, when he said that, it’s still a work in progress. We still argue, we still bicker. Sometimes we let our emotions take over.

Gaby Grinberg (21:36):

I think one of the things we have evolved in our business relationship is really learning, when we do disagree, when we do argue, when we do have a situation where we’re not on the same page, rather than resort to the fire and the anger and the [inaudible 00:21:54], we really talk it out and we really take a deep breath. If that means I have to go into the other room, compose myself, come back and explain why I’m upset about something or explain why I disagree with something, we are making that very conscientious decision to disagree like business owners, not like a married couple. That was something that we have to learn the hard way.

Mike Grinberg (22:19):

Related to that, too, I think one of the positives of working together, which I’m sure you guys can relate to is, it’s not going to be a lot of big things that you don’t agree on because you’re heading in the same direction personally. That’s a big positive, as opposed to having an outside partner. But the thing that we’ve really worked on, again this can be extrapolated to any business owner but definitely for husband and wife business owners is, having a plan and a decision making framework. You don’t have to make the same decision over and over again and then have an argument. Have the big things, basic things like on the business side, we don’t do discounts then there’s never a question. It doesn’t matter who talks to a prospect, it doesn’t matter who runs the meeting, we just don’t do it. It’s not like, “Can you guys discount this by 10%?” No, we can’t. It’s simple things like that where it prevents a lot of these potential arguments than we would have had in the past.

Steve Loates (23:21):

I think that’s very, very true. One of the other things that we also share in common with our businesses that I’d like to touch on a little bit for our audience is the fact that we both run remote businesses. Obviously today there’s a lot of people who have been forced into that and hadn’t done it willingly. What is some of the advice you could give firms or maybe even some of the advantages you guys have found on running a business remotely?

Mike Grinberg (23:58):

I like this question.

Gaby Grinberg (23:59):

Okay, you take it, Mike and then I have a few things.

Mike Grinberg (24:02):

Sure. I generally say I have a bit of a contrarian view on it, which is why I like it because I love to play devil’s advocate. I think there’s a lot of stuff out there, it’s a little bit less now that we’ve been, everyone’s been remote for six months but in the beginning and even still, everyone’s going, “Remote’s the future. This is the way it’s going to be, it’s panacea, it’s amazing.” Yada, yada, yada. It’s just not the case. It’s not for everybody and it’s not just a matter of technology. You can’t just throw technology at a completely different situation, “Okay, good, we’re remote now.” I think in terms of being successful, there’s a couple things. Gaby, I’ll let you talk about the culture aspect of it. But from an operations perspective, one of the biggest things in my mind is really operationalizing asynchronous communication. When you’re in an office together, it’s “Hey, you got a minute?” Could you do that over Slack or over email? Sure. It’s just not the same.

Mike Grinberg (25:08):

For things to keep moving, I have to operationalize that asynchronous communication meaning, maybe the way projects are managed needs to change, timelines need to get a little bit elongated potentially. Maybe they can become shorter because if you can operationalize communication aspect, now instead of having to wait for three days to have a meeting, the same stuff happens asynchronously through a couple of Slack automations, et cetera. The next thing you know, you’ve got a decision made in one day instead of usually it might have to take three because you have to wait until everybody can be in the same room. But it’s operationalizing that aspect that I think is paramount that most, I think most companies have been tossed into it missed. Like, “Okay, we got Slack, we got Zoom, off you go.”

Steve Loates (25:50):

It’s true, that’s true.

Mike Grinberg (25:52):

Gaby, I’ll let you talk culture because that’s a big one.

Juliet Aurora (25:56):


Mike Grinberg (25:56):

Oh go ahead.

Juliet Aurora (25:56):

Before we get into the culture side from Gaby, can I ask you Mike, what do you find is the starting point for someone if they are an organization who is forced into remote or is starting the remote journey, what would the starting point be for them to start to operationalize asynchronous communication? Most people wouldn’t even know where to start.

Mike Grinberg (26:19):

The biggest thing I would say, I think this has been proven over the last six months, is start over. Start from scratch because what a lot of companies, we’ve seen it happen with our friends working for different companies, et cetera, is they will try to take their existing in office experience and just try to adapt it to the virtual experience, it doesn’t work. You literally have to start from scratch and figure out, “Okay, if we didn’t have a company, if nothing existed, how would we structure all of this?” That even goes with asynchronous, yeah research [inaudible 00:26:51] et cetera, but in the beginning think about … It’s harder to be in the same room together all the time. What are the implications? How can we address them asynchronously?

Mike Grinberg (27:05):

Sometimes the answer will be we can’t. Then I’ve got to figure what does that mean? Does that mean we have to look at technology? Is it Zoom? Is it something else? One of the big things is how do you handle ideation and brainstorming? Honestly, I don’t have an answer for that one. That one is still a challenge. It’s not the same doing it virtually on a virtual whiteboard as it is being in the same room with five other people and having an actual whiteboard. It’s just not. That’s where, I think, people and companies miss. I think the only big name company I’ve seen bring that up is Reed Hastings from Netflix. He’s like, “No, collaboration sucks now. You can’t do it.” I think that’s the big thing that is still missing.

Juliet Aurora (27:46):

Okay, thank you. Sorry Gaby, go ahead. Culture, culture in a remote world.

Gaby Grinberg (27:51):

Yeah. Mike touched a little bit on this, I think that when, depending on whether you’re a company that was in a physical space and now you’re fully remote or if you’re looking to build a remote company, one of the things that I think is critical and crucial is to look at all of the key operations and key functions in your company and put together a playbook for that. That is something that we are in the process of doing. We’ve built out a couple playbooks for the key functions and areas of our companies. Those are living, breathing documents. Those are documents that get reviewed on a quarterly basis, we review them at the end of the year, we make sure, “Okay did this playbook work for our team and our company and our clients this year? Great? Awesome.” As we learn things and as we evolve and as we change things, we’re constantly updating those plans. I think, to me, that’s a huge point that I want to drive home for anyone that’s thinking about starting a remote company is look at the major functions of your business. Look at the major areas of transaction in your company and make sure that you have documentation. Make sure that it’s really clear to your team if you have employees, what the expectation is.

Gaby Grinberg (29:12):

Here’s the thing, for those that maybe work in an office environment, corporate or agency or whatever that may be, when you work in a physical environment, you’re always learning via osmosis. You hear things, you pick up the culture, you pick up certain idiosyncrasies from your office mates. You’re seeing what’s happening, you’re hearing what’s happening and constantly absorbing the culture and the norms and the expectations of your company simply by being in the office, simply by being there, it’s osmosis. You start learning. Now, when you remove those four walls and cubicles and all that and then you simply have a Zoom and a computer in front of you, that “osmosis” is much harder to replicate. Having a repository of playbooks and instructional videos and how-tos and guides that employees can go to at any point in time in their employment with you as a remote worker is so critical because number one, it removes Mike and I from being the bottleneck. It removes us from constantly having to remind people, “Okay you have to do it this way, that way.”

Gaby Grinberg (30:27):

It empowers our employees to make decisions because they have a framework. They know … The analogy that I like to use is you have those gutters in the bowling alley. Not the gutters but the bumpers. Not every bowler needs the bumpers but if you have them there, you know that you’re not going to end up getting a gutter ball. You’re going to end up realigning in the moment and hopefully getting a strike or a spare. That we want to do to empower our employees and anyone who works for us. We’re going to provide the bumpers, the pins are there. You’re the bowling ball, go. Maybe they’re the person throwing the bowling ball, I don’t know. That’s-

Mike Grinberg (31:12):

We’re not bowlers. [crosstalk 00:31:13] Probably not the best analogy.

Gaby Grinberg (31:16):

Not the best analogy.

Steve Loates (31:17):

It’s a great analogy.

Gaby Grinberg (31:19):

But that’s the idea. Again, I want to stress that by no means is this perfect at Proofpoint. We still have quite a few playbooks, if you will, that are in progress and that we need to create but we have found that by not having these playbooks, by not having this proverbial bumpers in place to guide our team and guide their journey through remote employment, we end up running a lot of gutter balls. We ended up running into a lot of bottlenecks, a lot of confusion. Then there’s analysis paralysis. Some people in their professional [inaudible 00:32:00], if they don’t know something, they can’t do it, they’re paralyzed, they don’t know, they need all the information. Other folks are more [inaudible 00:32:08] and they’re like, “Okay if this isn’t written down, I’m just going to do it my way.” Neither are wrong but neither are right, also. You want to empower your employees to be adventurous, to take risks, to do things on behalf of the company and on behalf of the clients. But there also need to be some parameters in place so that they can be successful the way that you intend them to be as the leaders of the company.

Steve Loates (32:36):

That’s great. We’re running out of time here, guys, because I do like to keep it, out of respect for our audience and for you guys but I did want to, Mike you did touch on your podcast. Before we go, can you just tell us a little bit more about it? What was the genesis? Why did you start it? What are you trying to do with it?

Mike Grinberg (32:55):

Well, the genesis of it was, for the most part, selfish honestly. We were running a business as a husband and wife and we were honestly struggling a little bit. We’re like, “Okay, who else does it?” We have some family that does but it’s not the same, they run a different business. How can we meet new people and talk to other people doing what we’re doing? That’s why we started it in the first place.

Gaby Grinberg (33:21):

You forgot to mention the name of the podcast.

Mike Grinberg (33:24):

The name, I was getting there, the name of the podcast is Mixing Business with Pleasure because that is what we do as a husband and wife team. [inaudible 00:33:33] evolving is just the podcast, we’re going to be building out a community around it and some programming, et cetera. The reality is, what we found and I’m sure you guys know the status, in the US there’s 1.4 million husband and wife owned businesses. Seemingly it’s a fairly large audience but interestingly, because of the situation, it’s fairly isolating. You’re like, “Well, can I really talk to somebody about problems that I’m having with my wife running my business or my husband running my business.” [crosstalk 00:34:06] This opens that up.

Gaby Grinberg (34:07):

It’s also a bit of a taboo subject. Maybe not so much anymore but in the past, it was sort of like, how could you ever work with your spouse? Or why would you want to work with your spouse? It was like, how could you ever work with your spouse? Or why would you want to work with your spouse? We get that question a lot.

Mike Grinberg (34:20):

We still get that, consistently.

Gaby Grinberg (34:22):

Right. I could never work with my husband, I could never do this. As Mike was saying, the podcast was really just a way for us, ourselves initially, to connect with other couples in business. When we launched in August, we had started recording episodes as early as May to try to [inaudible 00:34:44] beyond there really is a need to talk about these things. To highlight the victories but also some of the challenges that husband and wife teams experience, in this together.

Steve Loates (34:56):

That’s great. I think you’re absolutely right. I think there is a need for it and I think there’s an audience. I wish you and Mike success with that. It’s a great idea. It really is.

Gaby Grinberg (35:08):

Thanks so much.

Mike Grinberg (35:10):

We’d love to have you guys on the show and talk about your experience.

Steve Loates (35:13):

Anytime. Juliet loves being on podcasts.

Juliet Aurora (35:18):

He had a hard enough time getting me to agree to this one, let alone being a guest on another one but we’d be happy to.

Steve Loates (35:24):

Absolutely. That does bring this to one of my favorite parts of the show, which is the smart man, smarter woman version of James Lipton’s Q&A. I guess we do date ourselves with this but for anyone who used to watch Actor’s Studio, they’ll know what I’m talking about. Every guest we have, we ask them the same questions and we have a little bit of fun with it. We get some interesting answers. If you guys are ready, I would like to get started. I guess we’ll go with Gaby first. I’ll ask the question, if you could give your answer, Gaby, then you Mike and then I’ll go to the next question. Are you guys ready?

Gaby Grinberg (36:08):


Mike Grinberg (36:08):

Let’s do it.

Steve Loates (36:08):

Perfect. What one word best defines an entrepreneur?

Gaby Grinberg (36:16):

Well, I could think of a dozen but if I had to choose one, I would say resourceful.

Steve Loates (36:22):

Resourceful, good. Mike?

Mike Grinberg (36:25):

Problem solver. I know that’s not one word but that’s what [crosstalk 00:36:29] entrepreneur is.

Steve Loates (36:29):

It’s okay, we can hyphenate it, Mike. It’s okay. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Gaby Grinberg (36:39):

Well, I’m going to tell you two. I [inaudible 00:36:45] creative bone in my body. I love creativity, I love design and aesthetics so architecture is a passion of mine that if I could start over or need [inaudible 00:36:55] say, design, creating architecture, something in that regard. With my daughter having so many medical needs, I often say that I’m not a doctor but I could play one on TV. While I had zero intention of ever entering into the medical field growing up, I feel like it’s [inaudible 00:37:16] for most people I would say in the experiences that I’ve had on the medical journey, I could find myself being a nurse practitioner. Maybe a doctor with all the knowledge that we’ve picked up. Those would be my two.

Steve Loates (37:28):

Okay. Mike?

Mike Grinberg (37:32):

For me I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie you can say. I think I would be a paramedic.

Steve Loates (37:42):

Paramedic. Okay, very good.

Juliet Aurora (37:44):

I thought you were going to be a stunt driver or something.

Mike Grinberg (37:47):

No, that’s a little too much. Adrenaline junkie wasn’t the right [inaudible 00:37:50] there, I don’t know.

Steve Loates (37:52):

What profession would you like never to attempt?

Gaby Grinberg (37:59):

For me, sanitation services, thank you. I know it’s very [inaudible 00:38:05] in our world.

Mike Grinberg (38:06):

For me it would be a doctor or a nurse. I love them [inaudible 00:38:11] went through a huge medical journey but I couldn’t do it.

Steve Loates (38:15):

Okay, fair enough. What sound or noise do you love?

Gaby Grinberg (38:24):

That’s an interesting question. I’ve never heard that before. I have a hard time choosing just one so I’m going to give you two. I played musical … I come from a musical family, the trumpet. After college I played in a [inaudible 00:38:42] of Trumpet. Give me Miles Davis and Chet Baker any day and I will be a duck in water. My second favorite sound is my daughter’s voice. She loves to sing. She’s obsessed with Star Wars. The entire [inaudible 00:39:00] orchestration of Star Wars. I love that sound.

Steve Loates (39:05):

Great. Mike?

Mike Grinberg (39:07):

For me it would be the sound of rain.

Steve Loates (39:12):

Okay, very good. What book would you recommend for entrepreneurs?

Gaby Grinberg (39:21):

I would recommend [inaudible 00:39:24] Sinek’s book, it’s a small, it almost looks [inaudible 00:39:27] Together is Better. In fact, we give that book, every time with a new client relationship we give that book to our clients because that really encapsulates the culture and the vision that we strive for. That’s what I would recommend.

Steve Loates (39:44):

Terrific. Mike?

Mike Grinberg (39:49):

For me it would be the The Game of Business by Jack Stack.

Steve Loates (39:52):

Okay, perfect. All right, last question. When your own entrepreneurial journey is completed, what do you hope your legacy is?

Gaby Grinberg (40:06):

Okay, I think for me I hope that everyone with whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in a professional manner, whether they were a client, an employee, a vendor, a prospect, that they say, “Wow Gaby was, [inaudible 00:40:22] but she was a good person. She did things [inaudible 00:40:26] by her vision” and that I helped enrich their lives professionally and also personally.

Steve Loates (40:34):

Perfect. Mike?

Mike Grinberg (40:36):

Mine would be pretty much the same, which is my contact, “Mike treated me well.” I don’t care about rewards, accolades, all that kind of stuff.

Steve Loates (40:47):

Okay, terrific. For those in our audience that would like to contact you regarding your digital marketing services or even your podcast, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Gaby Grinberg (41:01):

Well, you can reach us on LinkedIn, we’re both very active. We can provide the link to our channels there. Mike Grinberg [inaudible 00:41:09] Grinberg you can find on our website at www.Proofpoint.marketing.

Steve Loates (41:17):


Gaby Grinberg (41:17):

You can also check out our podcast, we’re on iTunes, Spotify, all the major casting sites, Mixing Business With Pleasure.

Steve Loates (41:28):

Awesome. We’ll put the social links in the notes for the show so that will all be there. That brings us to our words of wisdom that we close out each episode with. This week I came across one I hadn’t seen for a little while that I really like. That is from Steve Martin. Be so good they cannot ignore you.

Juliet Aurora (41:58):


Mike Grinberg (41:59):

I’ve always liked that quote.

Steve Loates (42:00):

Thank you very much to both of you guys, it’s been great, really enjoyed it. Thank you for your time and for all of the great information that you shared. Thank you to my awesome cohost Juliet, as you know I couldn’t do this without you. Most importantly, thank you to you guys, our audience. Thank you for tuning in, giving us a listen. We hope you found some value here today. If you did, we’d love it if you subscribe. Again, we’re on all the normal places, too, iTunes, Spotify. You can find us also at SmartMenSmarterWoman.com. Thank you very much, until next time, take good care of yourself and those that you love. Bye for now.

Song by Adam Vitovsky / CC BY 3.0

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Episode 26