Kaley Klemp: Living and Leading with Radical Generosity #5‪5‬

Warwick Fairfax

February 9, 2021

What do you do as a thought leader when crucible experiences force you to face that you’re a “practice struggler”? That’s the situation Kaley Klemp faced when she and her husband, Nate, hit a patch in their marriage so rocky they wondered if it might be the end. But they fought their way back by changing their mindsets from seeking fairness from each other to showing radical generosity to each other. In the process, they applied some of the very team-building skills each had learned in their careers to bolstering their relationship — a journey they capture in their new book, THE 80-80 MARRIAGE: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship. Kaley explains in this interview with Crucible Leadership founder and BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host Warwick Fairfax that strong marriages, like strong leaders, need ample doses of vulnerability and authenticity.

To learn more about Kaley Klemp and The 80-80 Marriage, visit www.kaleyklemp.com

To learn more about Crucible Leadership, visit www.CrucibleLeadership.com

Highlights

  • What birthed her passion for helping leaders (6:47)
  • The motivation she feels to help people see — and overcome — their suffering (9:11)
  • The importance of early and direct feedback (11:58)
  • The value of praise (13:47)
  • Her crucibles … and the lessons they taught her (15:08)
  • The challenge of being a thought leader and a “practice struggler” (19:07)
  • How to avoid “using your good behavior” on the wrong relationships (22:58)
  • The foundational values needed for shared success (26:58)
  • Changing the paradigm from fairness to radical generosity (28:39)
  • How vulnerability is an expression of courage (39:28)
  • How her paradigm of work has changed to include the best interests of her family (40:58)
  • What a life of significance looks like for her now (47:24)
  • A good first step to begin practicing radical generosity (49:56)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Kaley K:
My husband and I tangled our handlebars on a bike ride and, as we fell, he fell harder and also hit his head. And so there was this dual experience of traumatic brain injuries and not having a community. I was not near family where … And I didn’t have many people. I was brand new. There wasn’t even a friend network to go to. And so, in that space, my husband and I ended up, we just hooked each other’s negative thinking patterns and instead of moving closer together in that crucible, there was a moment where we really started to move apart. And there was a conversation where both of us said to each other, “You aren’t the person that I married. I’m not sure what’s happening here, but this isn’t going to work.” So there was very much a moment where we weren’t sure we were going to make it as a couple.

Gary S:
For a married couple, crucibles don’t get much more serious than that. In the midst of an already difficult time, confronting the thought that the love you vowed would last forever might not even last a few more months; yet, that is exactly where today’s guest, Kaley Klemp, found herself a few years ago.

Gary S:
Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. On today’s episode, Warwick talks to Kaley about how her relationship with her husband, Nate, got to such a perilous crossroads and how the two of them were able to pull it back from the precipice. The key, you’ll hear, was in changing their paradigm from marriage being about “fairness” to making it about radical generosity. It’s impossible, Kaley argues, for any relationship, particularly a lifelong romantic one, to be 50/50. That’s why the Klemps wrote, The 80/80 Marriage, which makes the compelling case that both spouses have to be committed to giving more than they expect to receive to make wedded bliss a reality. And here’s the bonus for professionals like the Klemps and many of you, our listeners: The principal she discusses are wise practices for the boardroom as well as the living room.

Warwick F:
I’d love to hear a little about Kaley and maybe where you grew up and your family, just a bit about kind of the background of who is Kaley Warner Klemp and what makes you, so to speak.

Kaley K:
I love that question. Well, thank you, Gary. Thank you, Warwick. I’m so delighted to be here. So I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, which happens to be where I live now. And little girl, one of the things that I think is kind of neat about my past is that my parents decided when I was in kindergarten that I would be in the bilingual class in my elementary school. And so I’m not sure if you know much about Boulder, Colorado. It is not well-known for its diversity, and yet, I got to be in classrooms in kindergarten through sixth grade where for that entire period of time, I think I was the only girl in my class who spoke English at home. And it’s a neat place to start to develop perspective and empathy. And I have to think that some of that fueled my desire to understand people even more that shows up in my life today. I’m the oldest of three kids. We got a brother and a sister. My folks are still right here in Boulder. I’m really lucky that my family is awesome.

Warwick F:
Well, I think you would tell me earlier that Nate’s parents are also from Boulder and I think you said what? All your families is pretty much within 45 minutes or at least your parents and Nate’s parents. You have a daughter. I mean, that’s… I’m assuming you probably get on reasonably well with them all. I mean, it could be a blessing or not.

Kaley K:
Thankfully, we don’t live under one roof. I think that would be too close. But I know, it’s been Warwick such a gift that if I think about it through the lens of my nine year old, it really is a village that’s helping to raise her. Today, actually, she is with my parents up skiing in the mountains. So there’s something really magical about… I think my in-laws are phenomenal. I’m one of the just luckiest people in the world that all of the mother-in-law stories don’t apply for me. She’s actually wonderful. And I didn’t grow up near my grandparents. My parents were both from Michigan and my grandparents, when I was little, I was in Colorado, and they were in Michigan and Florida. And seeing my daughter’s closeness with her grandparents, I wouldn’t trade lives with anybody except maybe her.

Warwick F:
Well, That is so neat. My parents are no longer living, but they were in Australia, and I’ve lived here since the early ’90s. And my wife’s parents were from Ohio, so we saw them and then spent part of the year in Florida. So we saw them quite a lot. But I think people don’t appreciate it. A little bit off track here, but life in Australia is very different than here, because Australia’s the same size geographically as the United States, but there’s not that many people, not a whole lot in the middle. So if you are from Sydney which I am, pretty much all your friends, they’ll go to university… Sydney University, University of South Wales.

Warwick F:
I have an older sister that has four daughters and they all live pretty near. Now if you’re more than 20 minutes, you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. The other side of the Harbour Bridge.” You’re like, “Forever.” So I didn’t realize in Australia, being near family’s not that uncommon, because if you’re from Sydney, why would go somewhere else? Nothing against Melbourne, but you just get used to Sydney. In America, it’s very different. People are everywhere, like obviously your experience in Michigan.

Warwick F:
So it sounds like you had pretty good upbringing and I think I saw some of the TEDx talk when you’re a little girl and the whole peanut butter and jelly shoelace thing. That’s so, so neat. I guess some maybe some perfectionist tendency I think is probably the story. But there was a good point there. It was a fun image and fun story.

Kaley K:
I appreciate you watching. Yeah, indeed, I was… Some perfectionist tendencies for sure and a bit of a precocious little girl to scold my mother on her sandwich making skills.

Warwick F:
So before we get into 80/80 marriage, what lead you on the path that you’re on, because you just have a passion for leadership and helping leaders think maybe more holistically from everything from values inventory to Enneagram mindset? Was it something about your upbringing or family? What led you on the journey that you’re on? What’s the origin story, if you will, of why you do what you do?

Kaley K:
Yeah. That’s a great question as well. So I can actually trace it to a moment. So my dad, when I was growing up, he was an entrepreneur and ran a software company once upon a time when computers took up entire rooms rather than in our pockets. He laughs now about it, like, “I remember having to program in the middle of the night, because it was the only time it was cool enough or the computer would overheat.”

Warwick F:
Oh, jeez.

Kaley K:
So totally different world. But he was part of an organization called YPO or Young Presidents Organization. And when he sold his company, he was asked to come facilitate some events. And in 1999, he asked me… I was in university… so he said, “Hey, do you want to come see what I’m up to? Do you want to come participate in this event that I facilitating?” I said, “Sure.” How interesting could it be?

Kaley K:
So I went to the event and that was the moment in 1999 where I absolutely fell in love with this tool set and knew that I wanted to be committed to it. And really specifically what it was that through that experience, I saw people see themselves more clearly, see some of the patterns and the choices that they have been making in their lives more clearly and that facilitated a path for them to actually make different choices and to do things differently in their lives going forward. So as you saw in my TED talk, I don’t think that should get us very far, but I actually think deep self-understanding and making choices can. And seeing that happen for person after person, I was hooked. It was like, “Okay. I want to do that.”

Warwick F:
Hmm. So there’s something about just helping people understand who they are. I think people intellectually realize that that’s important, but somehow that particular vision resonated very deeply. Because somebody could have said, “Oh, that’s neat. But okay, that’s important.” But why did you feel like that was for you? Why did that tug at your heartstrings or why that piece of music, if you will, really feel like, “This really fits who I am and what I believe in.”

Kaley K:
Gosh. That’s an excellent question. I think it was mostly about having people… To your point, it was that they saw themselves more clearly, but I think they also were able then to see the ways that they were creating… I’m going to call it suffering. And there are different flavors of that… certainly very acute, dramatic and also more subtle, almost like a rock in your shoe kind of suffering. But in seeing that, they could realize what some of the things we have been doing were costing them, and that to me… I think what tugged at my heartstring was recognizing, “This was a way that I could participate in people making their own lives better.”

Kaley K:
And then I think about… and gosh, again, this goes back to COVID where there’s so much about contagiousness… the idea of if I can help people be contagious for good in their own lives and in the companies that they’re leading, in the teams that they’re on, in the families that they’re members of, that I think really pulled at my heart.

Warwick F:
Right. Because I think, probably a bit like you, good leadership can make such a difference. I have three kids. They’re in their 20s. And I’ve done my fair share of helping them prep for interviews and somewhat good at that, got a lot of practice, and throw out all these questions, “Why do you want this job?” And “What about you really fits here,? and “What are your strengths?” And then the awful question is “What are your weaknesses?” How do you answer that and still be positive, but yet be honest?

Kaley K:
Exactly. And have it not feel like the person on the other side is like, “That’s not a real weakness. Thanks for trying.”

Warwick F:
Yeah. Like when I applied to Harvard Business School, you don’t want to write, “Well, I’m a bit of a workaholic, and I’m so dedicated to studying that all my other life goes by the wayside.” It’s just so trite. But what I tell them is, “Assume that most bosses you’ll work for won’t be good.” They might be really good, but it’s not like 90% of bosses are clued in, empathetic, strong leaders, but yet listen. It’s just, don’t assume that’s normal, because it’s just not. It’s typically if you have an issue in performance, the time you find out is when the pink slip happens and you’re fired and it’s like, “Well, I just don’t like giving negative feedback and it just makes me feel uncomfortable. So I feel better if I just ask you to leave that way we don’t… It’s easier for me.”

Kaley K:
It’s so funny. I was-

Warwick F:
And that’s normal.

Kaley K:
… actually having this conversation this morning with somebody who runs people and talent. And the conversation that we were in is the imperative of early and direct feedback for exactly the reason that you’re saying that if you give constructive feedback early, then people know what to work on, they know where they stand, there’s clear expectations and there aren’t surprises later on. For the piece that we were talking about, that’s really interesting that I think you’re alluding to is the hidden cost of trust when there isn’t that conversation. Because then people who they think they’re doing well, because they also aren’t receiving feedback, start to have that worry in the back of their minds, “Is that pink slip coming for me?” And so, there’s a distrust of absence of feedback or too much positive feedback, if there isn’t the balance of constructive feedback.

Warwick F:
Yeah. So obviously in the family business I grew up in, which listeners will know, was a large, 150-year-old family media business. There were times, especially when it was it founded, where it was run very well. John Farifax, my great-great-grandfather, he was… Everything he… It would have been… I don’t if he did the 80/80 marriage, but he had a wonderful marriage, great relationship with his kids, an elder at his church, his employees loved him and he grew a very successful business. It’s really everything was in balance. But there were days in more recent past when it wasn’t really so well run.

Warwick F:
But I can think of one episode that really illustrates, perhaps, good leadership, some of the things you probably advocate, is years ago, before I went to Oxford, I had an internship at J. Walter Thompson, which was a big advertising agency back in the day, about four or five ad agency mergers ago. And there was a guy out from Canada who was running the Australian operation, and he made a point at these all hands meeting appraising people. It so happened that that local agency had the local Kellogg’s account.

Warwick F:
And so he said, “I’ve been chatting to the J. Walter Thompson folks back in the U.S. and North America and they said that the work that you’ve done here on Kelloggs has created some of the best work that Kellogg has seen worldwide at J. Walter Thompson.” He said that to the team, and I thought, “Boy, that’s good leadership. He’s praising them specifically in amidst their peers who also worked there.” So that sounds like a normal thing to do, but that’s not normal, that kind of specific praise. One of the things I say, one of my little adages is, “When it comes to praise, if you see something, say something…

Kaley K:
Absolutely.

Warwick F:
… and be specific and encourage.” It’s one of my highest values. But anyway, that’s a whole other discussion.

Kaley K:
I think that the specificity is one of the things that so often also gets lost. The generic email that says, “Hey, team, good job.” It means a little something, but very quickly finds its way to the delete folder; whereas, the specificity of the recognition, who said it, to whom, I think to your point has it stick and feel really more significant and true.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. So before we get to 80/80 marriage, I know, speaking of origin stories, from what I understand, there was a bit of an origin story, 2007 was not a good year. I know I’m reminded of Queen Elizabeth who she had a year she called her annus horribilis, a horrible year, in which Windsor Castle almost burnt down and it was pretty tough year for her. Pretty remarkable woman. What is she, like 95, and still riding horses? It’s unbelievable. I think her husband’s like 97, and I think they’re trying to discourage him from driving as much as before, because he’s had of couple accidents. But look, we all would have over 95. So talk about 2007 and why that was such a tough year and how that was part of the back story of where 80/80 marriage and the book came from.

Kaley K:
Yeah. It’s a hard story in some respects, because, as you were saying, Gary, when we started the show, it’s not necessarily fun to go back and relive. We refer to them as the dark years. So the backstory of 2007 is that… So I’m originally from Colorado. I went to school in California, more of a West Coast mountain past, and moved out to New Jersey to be with my brand-new husband. And people would ask, “Oh, you’re newlyweds. How’s the extended honeymoon?” And that was not our experience. The way it happened was my younger sister, about to turn 20, was a student at Boston and was a pedestrian hit by a drunk driver. And so, she was in the hospital. She was in a coma. Experienced quite a number of physical injuries. Spent some time in a wheelchair. Traumatic brain injury. And that was the beginning of this year of our marriage.

Kaley K:
Right on the heels of that, literally weeks later, my husband and I tangled our handlebars on a bike ride and as we fell, he fell harder and also hit his head. And so, there was this dual experience of traumatic brain injuries and not having a community. I was not near family, where… And I didn’t have many people. I was brand new. There wasn’t even a friend network to go to. And so, in that space, my husband and I ended up, we just hooked each other’s negative thinking patterns and instead of moving closer together in that crucible, there was a moment where we really started to move apart. And there was a conversation where both of us said to each other, “You aren’t the person that I married. I’m not sure what’s happening here, but this isn’t going to work.” So there was very much a moment where we weren’t sure we were going to make it as a couple.

Kaley K:
And so, as I fast forward to two springs ago, out on a hike… which now we do date nights also, but really most committed date hikes… there was that backdrop and looking back and wondering. Really the catalyst of this book, The 80/80 Marriage, is about the context of modern marriage and looking at, “Hey, now against this backdrop where we’re with our partners, we want things to be fair. We treat each other as equals. And oh my goodness, the list of things that we are trying to accomplish in a day, a week, a month, really is quite extensive. How do you do that and stay connected and in love?”

Kaley K:
We often would refer back to 2007 and say, “What do we wish we had known then? How do we wish we had been able to establish our mindset? Gosh, if we could go give advice to ourselves back in 2007… who knows how stubborn we would have been and whether or not we would have taken good advice… but we’re do we wish we had laid a different foundation?” And now, when I work with leaders and with couples and based on the hundred interviews that we did with couples to say, “What are the tools and what are the practices that help those really work?”

Gary S:
Can I go back to 2007? Because I want to get one little slice of emotion from you in that you and your husband at that time professionally were making it work. You were in a professional context working with leaders. You were thought leaders. And you came to a point where you realized, I think… you tell me if this is what happened… but you were thought leaders who realized that maybe you were practice strugglers. What did that feel like? As your advising people, “Here’s the proper way to navigate work relationships,” you’re having trouble navigating your marriage relationship. What kind of dissonance did that cause for you emotionally?

Kaley K:
That’s a great question, Gary. If I were going to look back and analyze what I was doing at that point in time, I was using work as a way to escape from how hard things were in my personal life. And so, in some ways, I think I was able to compartmentalize and say, “Hey, professional relationships are different from intimate relationships.” And out of one side of my mouth, I think I might still say that’s true. But I think they are actually much more closely connected than I would have given them credit for. I think the dissonance, to your point, was happening from the perspective of saying, “I can’t do this” and the facing into the struggle and the sadness and then not having the cover story of… I don’t know about you, it’s easier said on a podcast or on a Zoom or give a talk and here’s the shiniest, most palatable version of myself to then trying to turn off the camera and really cry quite hard.

Warwick F:
It’s interesting that you were both successful, obviously. You’ve got a whole consulting, coaching career. You mentioned husband. Is he an academic, consultant? He’s pretty successful in his own right.

Kaley K:
Yeah. Yeah. At that point in time, he was getting his PhD. So we both… We met at Boulder High, which I think is such a cute part of our story. We were chemistry lab partners. I will save you all of the puns. And then, both went off to Stanford, and then I stayed in California when he went to New Jersey. So he was getting his PhD at Princeton. But to your point, winning teaching awards, publishing his dissertation, doing research, to then be a professor at Pepperdine where many, many students were looking up to him in the same way that leaders would look to me. And so, there is a moment, too, of, “Are we taking our own advice and what advice do we have to take?”

Warwick F:
Well, it is interesting. The old joke when you may be chatting to… I don’t know… some support folks. For instance, if you have an Apple computer and you have an issue, the support teams are so incredible. They’re so helpful. But you wonder if they get off the phone… You could be talking to them for an hour about something so stupidly simple and says, “That’s okay. No, that’s fine. I can help you with the next step.” And they get off the phone with their significant other and probably zero patience and maybe start yelling and it’s like, “Okay. So you seem to be so good professionally, so calm, so patient. And then when it comes to family, where is that person? Where did they go? Is it captured by aliens? What is the deal here?” It’s probably something that you find that not only other people, but did you find that you and your husband professionally how you dealt with people was very different than how you dealt internally?

Kaley K:
Gosh. I’m thinking about my nine-year-old daughter who she will come home from school and she would have a fit or be upset or no manners. I’m like, “I don’t understand. Your teacher says you’re so good.” She said to me once, “Mom, I used up all my good behavior at school.” And so I think-

Warwick F:
Sounds like you can identify with that a bit, huh?

Kaley K:
I guess. And so that’s the story that I’m thinking about where I think there can be a moment where it’s “I used up all my patience” or “I used up all my good behavior” or “I used up all my good questions. And I think there’s a bit of… I’m going to call a reprioritization where in recognizing… And I think about this a lot in present day is, “Who are my most important relationships and am I treating them as such” or “Am I using up all my good behavior with strangers and giving my most precious relationships… my husband, my daughter, my family, my dearest friends… the dregs?” And if that’s the case, “How can I adjust where I’m spending my time and energy so that I’m nurturing those that I would say are most important?”

Warwick F:
It’s funny how often we devote so much time to professional lives. Obviously, you want to look and act professional, be understanding, because if you don’t, it’s not good for your career. Nobody wants to work with somebody that’s just rants, raves, impatient. It’s not a good way to get promoted or to get business. So, that’s an obvious, it’s going to hurt my career, paycheck. I can’t do that. At home, it’s not the same. But I know you do a lot of things like 360-degree feedbacks, Enneagram, values inventory. Do you ever laughingly say, “I wonder if I did a personal values inventory about what’s important to me?”

Warwick F:
I don’t do as much executive coaching with… I’ve got a book coming out next year and do a bunch of other things. But one of the things that I would sometimes ask clients, “Tell me about your values and then to what degree do you think that you’re living your values?” Then I would say with a straight face… if they say, “Well, I’m not really living that…” “Okay. Would you prefer to change your values or change what you’re doing?” And I would say it with a straight face, because as a coach, it’s the client’s choice. If they want to change their values, who am I to judge somebody else, some other human being? I actually, as a coach, really believe not judging other people’s paths. Everybody has their own journey. Well, 99.9% of sane people aren’t going to say, “I’m going to change my values.” Okay. Well, then… Just so many people that are going so fast, they’re not thinking, “I actually may not be living my values.” So if you probably rated values, I’m guessing family wouldn’t be, I don’t know, value number 80, I’m guessing.

Kaley K:
Right. Right. Exactly.

Warwick F:
It’s probably up there somewhere. So if you did a values inventory and then compared how much is Kaley living some of those… I’m not picking on you. All of us would be in there. You’d be like, “Hmm. I teach this stuff. I have a values inventory. Hundreds if not thousands of gone through it.” And then, “Okay. Hmm.” You probably had that moment.

Kaley K:
Oh, my goodness. For sure. And I think you pointed to it. There’s the cobbler whose children have no shoes. In doing the work with and for other people, there can be a forgetfulness around doing the work for yourself. And in some ways, this is a really beautiful bridge to 80/80 that we start with the mindset of radical generosity. So instead of 50/50 fairness to stretch to 80/80, to radical generosity.

Kaley K:
But what you’re describing is one of the foundational principles of shared success. And first is really, “Do you know your own values?” And then, “Have you had the conversation with your partner to ensure that those values align.” So to your point, we actually now have a chalkboard in our kitchen. We’re that family. We put our values. And we’ll have conversations often on our hikes where we’ll ask, “Hey. Are we living in alignment with these? Are we choosing love or are we choosing something else? Are we choosing impact or are we choosing something else? And if we’re choosing something else, to your point, is there a different value that now is superseding the ones we have or is there an adjustment that needs to take place in our lives?”

Kaley K:
And what I’ve found and what we’ve found is that knowing those values lets you set clearer priorities and that installs your boundaries where you can say yes and no to things with a much clearer conscience, because it’s rooted in… Love is a value of ours. That quality of relationship which shows up with my job or with my husband, with my family, that’s important. And if I’m not living that, gosh, I need to make different choices.

Warwick F:
I think what you’re saying is so important, and I think it was Socrates who said something like, “Unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, you’ve got to know yourself, but you’ve also got to know your partner, the person that, in your case, married to and what you collectively think is important. And so many people, they’re so busy with to-do lists and if you have young kids, “I got to take my kid to soccer, ballet, whatever it is.” And it’s who’s doing what and where and “I got to work late.” It’s you have conversations on to-do lists, rather than who are we, what are we about?

Warwick F:
So talk about this, because I’m fascinated with everybody talks about fairness, 50/50, how do you split things up? And so this whole idea of radical generosity… So talk about the old paradigm and the new paradigm. What’s the difference between the typical, “It’s all got to be 50/50. Split it down the middle,” which it’s hard to argue against fairness. It doesn’t sound like such a terrible concept. But talk about how what you’re advocating is radically different.

Kaley K:
Yeah. Well so, if fairness worked, I would say we should keep it. The trouble is that it doesn’t actually work, and it takes me to introduce, there was this brilliant story where a couple was talking about their relationship with their parents and they were saying, “So we did Father’s Day with your family, and so we’re going to do Mother’s Day with my family. Well, for your family, we left on Friday and came back on Sunday, so for my family, we should leave on Friday and come back on Sunday.” And it was hilarious, because what they were talking about, when they actually unpacked it, both of them said, “Neither of us wants to go for the same duration. We only want to go Saturday for lunch.” And yet because we had to make it fair, there was all sorts of kind of horse trading around things that they didn’t actually even want.

Kaley K:
So one way it doesn’t work is because you end up advocating for things that you don’t really even desire. And the second reason it doesn’t work is it’s actually a psychological principle, which is called availability bias. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it. But the idea is I know everything that I do in service of our relationship. So I know every soccer practice that I drop off at. I know every thank you card that I write. And I also know every invisible hour that I spend thinking about Thanksgiving dinner and who’s gluten-free and what we should serve and how to arrange it so that it’s COVID safe, et cetera, et cetera. My partner doesn’t know most of those things, and I don’t know most of the things that they’re up to. Some things I can see where I watch him drive the trash cans down the driveway to have the trash go out, but I miss, “Hey, did he have to have a conversation to fix something that happened in our finances or who’s waiting for the cable guy?” There’s so much that’s invisible that fairness ends up being where I completely overestimate the things that I’m doing and underestimate the things that you’re doing. So we can never even get to an accurate picture to strive for fairness.

Warwick F:
Boy, that is so well-said. And some of it, too, there’ll be things that each person is good at and not good at. In my case, I married an American girl, who I met in Australia. We’ve been married actually a little over 30 years and very blessed. And she’s very creative. She’s an interior designer by profession, and she’s just… We have a wonderful home. She’s incredible cook. I’m not. So if we did 50/50 fairness about cooking, the family would suffer. That wouldn’t be so… Now, obviously, happy to wash dishes and all that and take lead on that. My kids are in their 20s, so they’re obviously at an age where they actually can help with that. But she’s creative, so she really doesn’t like numbers. That’s not right or wrong. It’s how she’s wired. So she’s happy for me to do the finances and because I’m from Australia, it can be a little bit complicated between Australian stuff and U.S. stuff and it gets a tad complex.

Warwick F:
But when it comes to major decisions, whoever’s taking the lead will make sure the other person’s informed and you’re on the same page. But we’ve come to a rhythm where we both do what we’re good at and interested in. If something needs to be fixed, I’m pretty detail orientated, so I’m like the secretary basically, which I’m happy to be my wife’s secretary. I have no problem with that. “Warwick, you need to call this contractor or this and arrange this.” Got it. I’ll make it happen. And so it happens. So I don’t know. It’s more just making sure each person does what they can contribute. So I don’t know. Does that make sense or fit at all?

Kaley K:
Yeah. Well, so I think you’re saying two things that are really connected. So one is about you would miss out on joy if you tried to make it totally fair to the point of she enjoys cooking. Not only would the family suffer… I’m not …cooking too much… but there’s a space where she enjoys it. So trying to make it fair actually is in that negative. I think the other thing that you’re speaking to you though is intentional roles. That one of the things that we found especially in our interviews is that people will end up doing things just because they do. And we fondly refer to it as the wing-it approach.

Kaley K:
There was one couple we were talking with, and I thought it was so funny where the dad was saying, “I don’t know exactly how this happened, but I’m the toothbrush guy.” There was no conversation about it, but if he’s not there, the children don’t brush their teeth. He’s like, “There’s something very strange about this.” But there’s a way that you and your wife it sounds like have made really wise choices where you say, “I’m going to take the more detail-oriented things. I’m going to take more of the financial piece.” And she says, “I’m going to take the creative or the design or the cooking piece.” But you both know, so there’s not toe stepping nor is there resentment where she’s like, “How come I’m not doing that?” And you’re like… You’re also not saying, “How come you’re not balancing this account?”

Warwick F:
Right. Right. It’s true. I don’t know where it fits, because I’m no expert on marriage or whatever, but certainly other concepts that… words like acceptance and forgiveness. For instance, I grew up in a very wealthy background, so I’m not like Mr. Fix It. Yes, I can assemble an Ikea piece of furniture, but if you want me to-

Kaley K:
You’re better than I am.

Warwick F:
If you want me to build a deck, no. I’m not the build-a-deck guy.

Gary S:
It’s funny. I did not grow up in a very wealthy background, and I can’t do that stuff either. I can hammer a nail in the wall, but that’s about it.

Warwick F:
So it’s not just me. Okay. That’s good to know.

Kaley K:
We’re all in good company here.

Gary S:
There you go.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I guess my point is my wife’s dad, he was a oral surgeon and did fine and all that. But he was Mr. Fix It. So it’s like, “Well, my dad can do this and this. Why do you have to call someone?” Well, fortunately, we had the means to do that, but I don’t have any interest in that nor am I good at it. And so, we each had some things in which we had to accept about the other. And then, when we make mistakes, obviously, I’m a big believer in forgive and communication, I’m hypervigilant about communication. I’m often accused of over-communicating.

Kaley K:
Is there such a thing?

Warwick F:
If I think there’s 1% chance there’s an issue, make sure there’s not. I’m very vigilant that way. So acceptance, forgiveness, where does that fit into the 80/80 concept, because obviously these are not new concepts. What’s your thought about all that?

Kaley K:
I think that that would fit in that mindset pillar. We think about mindset and structure as being the two pillars. But in this mindset of radical generosity, there’s, in some ways, three mutually reinforcing positive things. So one is this idea of contribution. So I want to show up giving my best. But I think what you’re describing is wearing the glasses of appreciation, rather than those of criticism. That as you’re contributing the gifts to us and the family, I notice those, I speak to those, I recognize those, I appreciate you for them, rather than wearing my glasses always a deficiency where, “How come you can’t fix that” or “How come your cooking isn’t great” or whatever it might be that, as we are giving to the relationship from a spirit of radical generosity, as we’re seeing our partners through those glasses of appreciation, so if they’re seeing them through radical generosity.

Kaley K:
And then, there’s clearing, which is really when something happens because we’re human. We make mistakes. We’ll say things that are off. To reveal that inner experience, ‘Hey, when you said that, I felt embarrassed.” And to make a request about it, “My request is that in front of our friends you present me in a positive light.” And what I noticed and we were talking about candor earlier and its importance in leadership, I think in intimate relationships is just as important, because that little tiny thing, if you clear it right away, it is that. It’s an opportunity for knowing each other and closeness. But if that little tiny thing somehow gets reinforced or gets bigger or grows legs and runs away, before you know it, there’s a significant issue that, in some ways, has a very addressable root, had you caught it early.

Warwick F:
I think it’s so true. You talk about radical generosity, the thought came to mind is radical encouragement. Again, as I mentioned, it’s one of my highest values. But encouragement begins at home. Rather than tell your friends, “Oh, my husband/my wife, boy, I really like A or B.” Well, how about telling them? And, as you said, cut them some slack when they make mistakes.

Warwick F:
One of the things I think people are loathe to do in our society is apologize. People think apologize is weakness and vulnerability, which I think it’s strength. It’s okay. I have this attitude, which I don’t always live. If there’s a 50/50 chance I’m responsible, why not apologize? I’m a person on faith, so it’s like I think God will cut me some slack if I apologize for something I wasn’t guilty of. The universe won’t hold it against me. I think it’s okay. Err on the side of… I’m not saying you go overboard, apologize things that you know is totally not your fault. But there are certain principles to me that are really… That whole radical generosity, encouragement, vulnerability, being willing to listen and admit maybe that you were wrong and… I don’t know. I feel like that doesn’t always happen. And that’s where snowballs happen.

Kaley K:
I think that you’re naming something so powerful, which is it is vulnerable. And I appreciate Brene Brown so much for helping translate vulnerability into an expression of courage, because certainly that’s how I experience it. But there is a trust enhancement in a vulnerable act which can be revealing if something hurt my feelings, even if my inner voice is saying some version of, “You should be bigger than that” or “You shouldn’t let little … bother you.” But just, it’s vulnerable to say, “Gosh, that affected me.” And it’s also vulnerable to say, “I’m sorry” and to own your part and to recognize that sometimes intention and the experience that the other person has, they don’t match and to be able to clean that up where you say, “Gosh. That wasn’t my intention and I’m so sorry that it landed that way.”

Warwick F:
So just talk about as with the 80/80 book and all and you had successful consulting, speaking, how has that whole between 2007 and writing this book, how has that shifted maybe your paradigm or maybe career direction or… I don’t know… if it has. I have a feeling it’s caused a shift, not just internally, but in terms of what you do and where you see yourself going.

Kaley K:
Well, so especially since writing or beginning this process of writing the book about two years ago, a lot has really shifted. So as I think about my work, the paradigm has become really different. That I would say I am certainly guilty for the first 13 years of my marriage really thinking about me and what my career is going to be, and being supportive and really jazzed about the things that my husband was doing, but saying, “I have my things and you have your things” and not thinking about it in terms of, “How do we win together?”

Kaley K:
And so, being in the conversation just from a different perspective where instead of saying, “They would be good for me to take on this client. Would it be good for my career to do this keynote?” Really asking the question, “What’s in the best interest of us and our relationship and our family?” It’s a little cheesy, but I’ll tell you anyway. So we named our family unit. So the first two letters of each of our names, so it’s Kajona and –

Gary S:
Awesome.

Kaley K:
And so we’ll ask, “Was that in the best interest of Kajona?” We’ve made really different choices based on, “Okay. What’s in the best interest is for me to not travel that week” or “What’s in the best interest is for you to cut down to 50% time. What’s in the best interest is for us to get outside help for that.” But framing it differently has absolutely done a paradigm shift.

Gary S:
And it’s interesting that we started talking about you worked a lot with leaders in professional contexts, and now you’re spending time in personal relational contexts. None of us think twice about doing what you just said in professional contexts. Is this in the best interest of XYZ Corporation? Is this in best interest of my team? Why is it so hard or harder to do it in the context of relationships? I hear you say that about your family, about Kajona and I think, “Wow. That’s revolutionary.” It’s not revolutionary in business. Why is it revolutionary in personal relationships?

Kaley K:
It’s a great question, Gary. I think there’s actually, there’s two sides to that. I think what you’re describing happens in excellent organizations where that is explicit. Make the decision that’s best for the organization first, and I will hear leaders say, “Make the decision that’s in the best interest of the organization, not the decision that you think I’m going to like.” And I think in a lot of organizations, there actually can be a slipping back into, “Well, gosh, what will advance my career,” rather than, “What’s in the best interest of the organization?” “What will make me look good” versus “How will this promote the product or the service or the company or whatever it is that we’re up to?”

Kaley K:
Answering your question now, I think it’s one of the great mysteries of life that many of the things that are natural in organizations… For instance, almost every organization I’ve worked with has a mission or a vision and a set of values. And yet, many, many family units don’t. At least they don’t have it explicitly stated. I think some of it is recognizing that the lines are blurry. I think certainly now where home and work as intermingled as they have ever been. But I think there’s also a space where some people feel resistant to the idea of running their family like a business, that they’re like, “I want to work to be work and I want family to be family.” And I respect that mind. I think, however, bringing in some of the best tools from both sides is really valuable. Bring in that planning those values from the corporate into your family. Bring from your family that idea of radical generosity, which in a corporate setting is often phrased as “assume positive intent.”

Warwick F:
You raise a really fascinating point that when in an all corporate organizational setting, you say, “What’s in the best interest of the organization?” Well, your family unit is an organization, so what’s in the best interest of this family organization as a whole, because we’re a unit? Not about my interest or his interest or her interest. What’s best for the team. And if you ask the right questions, if you’re people of good will, you can probably come up with the right answer.

Warwick F:
Then you maybe go back to your values list. So if we have to choose between my career, your career or other organizations, which organization is a highest priority in our values list? It’s probably your family organization is the most important, more important than other organizations or careers. And then that’s a value judgment. I’m guessing it’s probably the way yours is. So if that’s true, then let’s make sure we put the values of the family organization first and let’s talk about what that looks like. It’s not about winners and losers. Let’s collectively agree. And it’s probably mission possible. It sounds like you can have the big war, but with the right questions and the right mindset, those things can get resolved. Does that make sense? People that think that way, right?

Kaley K:
I think that’s right. And I think maybe we’ll mix in too many metaphors here, but I think about it also like sports teams, that if you’re only thinking about your own stats… I recently watched The Last Dance. If Michael Jordan were thinking exclusively about his own stats, they would not have been world champions all those years. And you could see if you watched that, there was a mindset shift where it went from “I’m going to score the most points. I’m going to have the most rebounds. I’m going to be the MVP” to “We’re going to win as a team and as a unit.” And with that mindset shift, totally different things became possible.

Warwick F:
But what you’re saying is if you want to win in marriage or in life, don’t think about your own stats.

Kaley K:
Yes.

Warwick F:
That’s kind of what you’re saying.

Kaley K:
Win as a team.

Warwick F:
Yeah. It seems like it’s a … So one other thing you talk a lot about here in Crucible Leadership is we have the paradigm which we talk about we’re not against success, but what we say is we want people to lead a life of significance, which means a life on purpose dedicated to serving others… however, each individual, however they look at that paradigm. So it’s pretty clear to me as I see what you’re doing, but talk about what a life is significance looks like now, given where you are now and given what you’re just doing with 80/80 marriage. I could guess, but rather than guess, what does that look like for you?

Kaley K:
I would love to hear your guess. My greatest dream, Warwick, is that this book would have an impact so that couples have additional tools to be able to win as a team and that, in my world, the more teamwork, the more generosity, the more love, that there is in the world, the better place it gets to be, and that if these tools can serve in that way, that feels to me like a very significant contribution.

Warwick F:
Can you imagine a generation of kids growing up in families where their parents practice radical generosity and that’s modeled for them, so they, in their turn, with their partners, husbands, wives? That will cause a ripple-like revolution, a positive revolution, a blessing, if you will.

Kaley K:
That is a dream that I would love to see come to fruition.

Gary S:
That sound was the captain turning on the fasten seatbelt sign. We are going to be landing the plane soon. Before we do that, there’s couple things I want to do and I know Warwick will want to ask you another question I’m sure. But one thing, Kaley, first of all, how can listeners get a hold of you, find out about the book, find out more about you and the services you offer?

Kaley K:
Absolutely. So the easiest place to find out about the book is 8080marriage.com.

Gary S:
And those are 8-0-8-0, right?

Kaley K:
8080marriage.com. Exactly. And if you are an Instagram person, every day we put a tip or a challenge out on Instagram. So follow us there on Instagram. It’s also 8080marriage, so 8-0-8-0-marriage. And then, you can find out more just about me either on that site or at kaleyklemp.com.

Gary S:
And those are both with Ks, correct?

Kaley K:
They are. K-A-L-E-Y-K-L-E-M-P.

Gary S:
See with a last name like Schneeberger, I’m always very, very focused on the spelling of things. I want to ask you one last question before I let you go and then Warwick will finish up and that is: For people who are listening to this, our listeners who are hearing themselves in some of the crucible-like experiences you’re talking about, and they don’t know where to begin, they don’t know what to do what’s next. I’ve heard this. This makes sense.

Gary S:
But now what? One of the things Warwick has talked about much on the show, of late in particular, is the power of one small step. You may not have to have the entire road map before you start moving toward a solution, moving beyond your crucible, but there is one small step. What in your estimation, in your advice, in your wisdom, what’s one small step listeners who find themselves maybe trying to live a 50/50 marriage and they want to get to an 80/80 marriage? What’s one small step they can take?

Kaley K:
Well, so I think there is an internal step and there’s an external step. So the internal step is to change your self-talk from fairness to generosity. At anytime that moment of resentment arises, just to change it to say, “And in this moment, what would radical generosity look like?” That’s an internal shift. If you want more externally, I would say absolutely a small step is read the book. Whether you implement it or not, it’s a great place to start.

Gary S:
Bravo. The PR guy in me applauds that answer. Warwick, back to you?

Warwick F:
Yeah. Wow. That’s awesome. So I think you’ve said before there’s probably been a shift in really,… I think the whole 80/80 marriage and how to have more fulfilled marriages and relationships is probably your passion I’m guessing. So we also talk a bit here about legacy. As you think of what you would like your legacy to be, how does the 80/80 marriage and that whole thing play into what you would like to feel like you’ve left the world in terms of all this?

Kaley K:
Gosh. It feels like such a big question.

Gary S:
That’s why it’s the last one.

Kaley K:
Right. Do I get to define my own legacy? For me, it’s relationships across the board. So if the work that I do with leaders through 15 commandments and conscious leadership and drama-free office creates healthier relationships for our people as they spend so much of their time at work, and then, those more connected, more generous relationships for people at home. If relationships are enhanced, gosh, it would be incredible if that were a piece of the legacy that I got to leave.

Gary S:
Well, that right there was the sound that… I’ve been in the communications business long enough to know when the last word’s spoken and that was it. Normally, I try to wrap up in some key takeaways, but here we talked about transparency on this episode, and I’m going to be transparent enough to say that I’m not nearly as good as Kaley. So I wrote notes, but I’m not going to say them. Listener, your key takeaways are: Listen to the show again, because Kaley really unpacks things extraordinarily well. That’s her area of expertise. And this isn’t a 50/50 exchange where I’m anywhere near as good as she is in doing that. So please go back, check out her website, listen to this show and dig into the insights that she offers, because the insights she offers can indeed help you through your crucibles.

Gary S:
And speaking of crucibles, until the next time we are together to talk about crucible experiences to offer. Warwick has said this, “We operate in the realm of hope.” That’s what we do. We try to provide hope that you can move beyond your crucible. So until the next time we’re together to talk about those things, please remember this about your crucible experience, whether it’s professional or personal or a mixture of both. Right now, it seems extraordinarily painful probably. It will not always feel that way. If you learn the lessons that your crucible is trying to teach you, if you dig in, if you’re transparent, if you’re vulnerable, if you’re authentic and you see inside what the crucible’s trying to teach you, and learn those lessons and apply them moving forward, your crucible in that case will not be the end of your story. In fact, it will be the beginning of a better story, a new chapter in your story. And why it is a better story is because that chapter in that book leads to a different destination and that destination is a life of significance.

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