The Nitty Gritty

  • What boundaries Charlie Gilkey and Angela Wheeler, founders of Productive Flourishing, set to coexist between business and life in a healthy way — plus, some of the rules they follow, like no screens in the bedroom (or in the hot tub!)
  • How their work styles differ — and how they make space for both
  • Why open communication is at the core of everything they do, including their relationship with each other and their team

Ever thought of starting a business with your spouse? It takes strong boundaries, vision, and understanding to do it right: something that Charlie Gilkey and Angela Wheeler, founders of Productive Flourishing, have refined over the last 10+ years of working together.

Of course, running a business and being in a relationship together results in unique challenges. How do you carve out time, outside of business, for your spouse when you work together all day? How do you determine who does what work — in the business and at home? How do you make sure you aren’t driving each other crazy?

Charlie and Angela have run Productive Flourishing since 2007… and in this episode of What Works, they share what they put in place to do their best work — and show up as their best in the relationship, too.

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Creating boundaries: when business and life co-exist

“There isn’t a very clear line that this is life and this is business. They mix all day, every day. As things have shifted and changed in our life, things have shifted and changed in our business — and who does what and when.” — Angela Wheeler

While it may seem that there’s no separation between life and business for Charlie and Angela, there definitely is. But it’s not without effort: part of that distinction comes from the boundaries and rules they’ve created for coexisting both as a partnership in business and in life.

“We have different ways of working,” Charlie says, “and it’s a constant challenge for us.” One of their differences? Charlie’s an early riser: he’s usually halfway through his workday flow when Angela wakes up.

One of their rules here? Charlie doesn’t talk to Angela until she talks to him. “Then, I don’t stay in that weird relational hover zone to where it’s like: are we saying hi in the morning and being lovey-dovey?” he asks. “Or are you doing your thing and I’m doing my thing?” Knowing what to expect from one another, as they work and live together, helps them stay focused on doing the work.

Appreciating contrasting working styles and roles

“Equality is not equal time and it’s not equal results which can be a really sticky part of a relationship.” — Charlie Gilkey

As a society, we’re conditioned to believe that productivity means working hard from 9-5. But work doesn’t always fit into that 8-hour time slot. Many times, it expands past those hours. That’s been the case for Angela who’s consistently worked through a health journey that prevents her from working at the capacity she would like to.

“What am I able to contribute,” she asks, “versus what I wish I could contribute? It’s totally a mindset thing on my part but it’s also an honoring and a recognition on both of our parts.” Beyond handling the financial aspect of business and working on projects for Productive Flourishing, Angela also takes care of things around the house: something that has tremendous value for both their business and life — but it’s not something that earns her a paycheck.

As Charlie says, equality doesn’t mean equal time or effort. Understanding and appreciating this really required many open conversations between them to find a balance between the work Charlie does and the work Angela does: and appreciating that it all adds value to the big picture of their business — and their life.

At the end of the day, open communication is key

“We are very communicative with each other in our life outside of business and have very open dialogue and conversations, which we take into the team as well.” — Angela Wheeler

Throughout this conversation, it’s clear that Charlie and Angela appreciate and embrace open communication at every step in their lives. Whether it’s in life or in business, every decision has been talked through in depth.

That value seeps into everything they do at Productive Flourishing — including how they work with and relate to their team. Because that’s at the heart of everything they do, there’s no need for micromanaging. “The team knows they have a big say in what happens in the business,” Angela says.

Listen to this episode to hear more from Charlie Gilkey and Angela Wheeler on how they approach life and business together. They talk about the necessary boundaries and values that guide them through decision-making and relating to each other as partners in both life and at Productive Flourishing.