Childhood friends Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan co-founded and built Method natural cleaning supplies into a $100 million brand.  And, like many family and other partnerships, the path toward success was not always smooth. How the two navigated past conflict is a Lesson Found.

Featured on How I Built This with Guy Raz, the friends/partners discussed their path to success and described, as I refer to it, the “Screech Method” of conflict avoidance.

Of his partnership with Ryan, Lowery says: “It is like a marriage. We know each other incredibly well.  [But] for a couple years, we were at each other’s throats. [We] approach problems from very different angles.  And that is a huge asset.  [But] when I see a problem from this direction and you see it from another direction, you can butt heads about it.”

“Like a screech on the record” is how Lowery characterizes their efforts to minimize conflict. “It is a very, very conscious effort. [We knew we had] to work on this or this is going to end badly.” The solution, he notes, “requires a lot of open mindedness. It requires a lot of self-awareness.  It requires a lot of listening. These are all skills that we’ve learned.”  Lowery points out that honing these skills includes “doing it individually and working with one another to figure out.”

Within Lowery’s and Ryan’s experience we find a critical Lesson Found for all partners and families in business together. To paraphrase Lowery, partners and families must make a “conscious effort” to recognize differences in their perspectives and reasoning.  This only occurs through listening and consciously hearing each other.  This effort combines two approaches:

  1. Individually – For example, not reacting immediately to annoying comments which provides time to consider the meaning behind what your partner is saying.
  2. Together – For instance, partners taking time away from your daily routine to truly communicate. For some, engaging a third party, impartial facilitator, at least initially, dramatically increases the effectiveness of this effort.

As Lowery noted, the choice is to “work on this or [it] is going to end badly”.  Which option would you prefer?

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? I would love to hear about it. Comment below or send me an email to let me know.