Meg Hirshberg is my I’ve-never-met-you-but-consider-you-my-new-BFF.
If you don’t know Meg, (www.meghirshberg.com) you’ve probably heard of Stonyfield Farms. It’s the company her husband Gary started on a shoestring budget in the 1980’s in New Hampshire. Through a series of (many) ups and downs, Stonyfield eventually found permanent black and now boasts $370 million in annual sales, making them the fourth-largest yogurt company in the world. They are also the largest producer of organic yogurt on the planet.
A few years ago, Meg began writing a column in INC. MAGAZINE about being married to an entrepreneur. Each month, Gordie would dog-ear the page for me, knowing full-well I could not do without my monthly dose of Meg’s advice. Incidentally, I used to work at INC. Magazine, and saw Gary Hirshberg give a keynote in 1998 at a YEO (Young Entrepreneur’s Organization) event. I can distinctly remember thinking two things about him once I had digested the context of what he had said, most of which focused on the trying years of building his business. The first was that he was a total lunatic. The second was sheer envy for his obvious willingness to risk and dream big.
Meg just wrote a book entitled FOR BETTER OR FOR WORK: A survival guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families. This book has my name written all over it, so I was thrilled when Gordie gave me a copy for my birthday last week. We will celebrate ten years in September as an entrepreneurial family, and Meg’s journey feels like mine in so many ways. At the outset of the book, she discusses the stress of family involvement in the business, borrowing money, having no money, having no money, and having no money. She talks a lot about how in conjunction with those realities, she had a husband who saw the vision and never gave up. He stuck with it through thick and thin, and eventually the sun rose to a new day of more success than frustration, and a real income to show for years of hard work.
While I haven’t even reached the halfway point in the book, I feel like she’s packed friendship and therapy into the pages for readers like me. She’s the woman I wish I could have had sitting at the end of my bed all these years, talking me down from the ledges of stress and worry, with the gentle reassurance that even the most loving husband cannot always provide.
Being married to an entrepreneur often feels like quite an undertaking, and he would surely say the same about me. I am by no stretch of the imagination without complexities and flaws. My husband is an amazingly talented person, with an M.B.A. from Harvard. Many friends from his class took the fast track to Wall Street, choosing flashy lifestyles and paper-pushing desk jobs with obscene bonuses. There is certainly something to be said for choosing the golden ticket towards a lifetime of stability, no matter how vanilla it is. For us, the path less taken has proven worth it already on both a professional and personal level, even with a long way left to grow. Meg’s book has been an excellent reminder of that for me, and I so grateful that she wrote it. You can read more about it here: http://www.amazon.com/For-Better-Work-Survival-Entrepreneurs/dp/0983934002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331746582&sr=8-1