My brother-in-law was my first hire, and now he runs my company with me. Here’s how we keep from strangling one another.
At 3 a.m., the fire alarm sounded and my sister’s college dormitory—filled with half-drunk undergrads—cleared, myself included. Shivering outside in sweats and a hoodie, I shook hands with the guy my sister would soon date and later marry. That same guy, Ryan Kunkel, would eventually be the best man in my wedding and lead Red Frog Events with me.
When it came time to hire my first employee, Ryan was an obvious thought. Not only was he one of the smartest, kindest, and hardest working people I knew, but most importantly, his skill set complimented mine perfectly. I offered Ryan the job and he accepted a week later (after several long walks with my sister). He was excited…although my mother was certainly stressed that all of her children’s livelihoods now depended on a little company that essentially plans scavenger hunts.
Managing super-fast business growth with a family member is challenging. Sure, we debate (the joke in our office is that we wrestle in our bunker, the private conference room between our offices), but it’s only because we care so much about Red Frog being a healthy, thriving organization for the long haul. We spend countless hours meeting, strategizing and traveling together. Every Wednesday we have late-night meetings and he stays in my guest room to spare his long commute—Red Froggers call these our “cuddle nights.”
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