Rob Storm is the Director of Papers + Property at Borden Communications, a National Account Manager at Epson, and is passionate about helping small businesses find sustainable insurance solutions. He’s also Lisa’s husband! We (Megan and Laura) interviewed him and found out what work-life balance looks like for him, whether he feels pressure to live “green”, and how his family can afford acupuncture, massage, and a holistic dentist.
We rarely actually see you here in the office. What are your hours anyways?
There’s no such thing for me. I don’t work all awake minutes, and I wouldn’t consider myself a workaholic, as I pride myself on varied activities, but my office hours are really from when I wake up until I go to bed – and that’s no exaggeration. Those I work with on the east coast are typically up and running by 9am and those that I work with on the west coast will still be working past 9pm my time. I juggle a lot in any given day between work, family and personal time, I always have, and I look forward to being well enough to continue!
What do you feel is your life’s purpose?
For me, it all starts with my family. I want to be the best father to my 3 amazing kids, Ryan, Joey and Andy. And also the best partner to my wife, Lisa. They are the key to my best life. Beyond that, it’s to make people laugh and smile and feel good – I know it sounds a little cheesy – but it’s the truth. Some say I’m a bit of a goof – think of Phil Dunphy from Modern Family – either he’s my role model or they modeled him after me. I guess it’s the latter, since I was here first.
Do you feel pressure to be green, living with Lisa?
I get that question all of the time – All. Of. The. Time. I don’t even understand that – we are partners, and it’s just part of our value system. Neither of us grew up this way at all, so we have learned about it together, and still do many things differently and with varying degrees. It just makes sense to me to try and make decisions every day about how I spend my time and how I spend my money to support the kind of world I want to live in – and what I want for my kids to live in. Also, since she shops and cooks, and plans our holidays, it makes it easy to enjoy the best things in life!
What advice would you give others who have a partner who are entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to help do anything at any time. In my case, I support Borden Communications in addition to Lisa personally with regard to all legal, HR, accounting, finance, insurance and the ever important changing of light bulbs – even if that is lower on the priority list. I’ve grown into these roles, beginning in 1994, when Lisa started Borden Communications from the corner of her one bedroom apartment.
I have found it’s best to always be there to support with time and love – and remember that an entrepreneur never stops working. It’s their business and the responsibility ends with them to make it happen. So be comfortable with work being done at any time – often without notice. Offer to help take the load off in any way you can, so they can focus on reaching their goal, because it should be partly your shared goal too!
Are your kids entrepreneurial?
Ryan, my eldest, has been writing a restaurant review blog since he was 8 years old. My daughter Joey created a company called Jocycle, creating bookmarks out of boxes and guitar picks out of old credit cards. She created a business that mirrors her commitment to doing good by the world. Andy, our ‘baby’ is a master negotiator – he can get pretty much anything he wants. He hasn’t created a business yet, but there is no question he is already up to something – you can see it in his eyes!
What key life lessons have you learned from being a parent that applies in business?
People’s feelings matter – so don’t tell them that they shouldn’t feel a certain way. That’s a key lesson I’ve learned from my kids that I apply in business all of the time. Listen to what is being said, not how it’s being said. Don’t get caught in worrying about how they deliver the message, look for the underlying message that they are presenting and focus on responding to that.
Is it hard to be in sales and make calls to friends?
Sales at its core is about helping people to find a solution to their needs/problems. So every call I make, I’m trying to create value for the person on the other end of the line. In the case of calling friends, it’s all that much better because I get to catch up with them on what’s going on in life! I love connecting with people, having a laugh and making stuff happen.
Is it possible to have disability insurance when you are self-employed?
Absolutely it is. If you would be unable to earn an income because of your disability, then the coverage will be helpful. What I discovered in researching disability insurance for Lisa is that if you’re making a disability claim, you would need to show the insurance company that you can’t earn income in your position due to the disability. Since insurance companies don’t want to payout claims, they can make it more than challenging. But the value is there and I enjoy exploring the options of value.
Do you believe in buying life insurance? Aren’t living benefits better?
It’s not a question of whether one is better than the other. They both provide a solution to a need. Life insurance protects against the worst catastrophe – and how your family can carry on living without financial worry. Living benefits on the other hand can be extremely useful to help replace income in the case of illness/accident, that way you can focus on taking care of yourself for a period of time rather than on how you’re going to pay the bills. It always sounds better to me to have benefits while alive and well rather than when we aren’t.
For Lisa and I, it was important to be able to sleep knowing that if one or both of us were to die or become ill, that the other could carry on without a major and added financial burden. I’ve thought about what losing an income will mean for being able to support where we live, how we live, the education of your children etc. In our case, we have both life insurance and critical illness coverage.
Nobody likes thinking about their own mortality – but the reality is that we will all die at some point – we just don’t know when. Insurance to me is creating security against the worst – and it’s important to do it sooner than later – because you never know.
Do you believe in health care over disease care?
I believe that we need to always think about taking good care of ourselves. If I can make some choices now that will give me a better chance for living a longer, healthier life, then I’m all in. But you never know what’s going to happen. Lisa was on bed rest with our youngest for 6 months and that was certainly not planned for a decade ago, and took a toll in many ways, but out of it came solutions for better living and our wonderful 3rd child!
How does a family afford a holistic dentist, acupuncture and massage?
Like anything else, you have to make a decision about how to spend your money. In my opinion, there are things that aren’t negotiable – such as investing in our health. One thing that I discovered is that traditional benefits plans that I’ve had from my employers covered many basics (80% of dental, 80% of drugs, $200 per year for massage etc.), but I still had to self-fund the balance of the invoices for other health expenses with after tax dollars. With Lisa being self-employed and not having a benefits package, I was determined to find a great solution for our family – and I did. A Health Spending Account, which can be used by any business, incorporated or not, to cover the health expenses that aren’t captured by their spouses traditional plan is essential and just simply smart. We make great use of the one I set up for Borden Communications, and everyone else that I’ve set up finds it of great value as well.
You’re away a lot for business. What do you always take when you travel?
Music and headphones first and foremost. Some great snacks – since the airlines don’t offer anything that I want to eat (That’s why Lisa posted her tips for better airplane eats and drinks). I’ve found that flights are the best time to get work done – it’s an easy time to “single-task” without emails or calls (for now, until technology changes that). I use a privacy screen for my laptop – the people sitting around me don’t need to know what I’m working on!
With all you do, how do you manage work/life balance? How do you coach your kids, eat family dinner, take care of finances, lightbulb changing, and yourself?
It’s amazing how much time there is in a day to get things done. I have a strong work ethic and care to make things happen. I’m lucky to be able to work from home, so I don’t waste time commuting. There’s lots that can be accomplished with a notebook, a phone and a mobile device! Whether I’m visiting clients, on conference calls, or spending time with my family, I can fit it all in. And there isn’t a clock that says ‘now is work time and now is non-work time’. It all can blend into each other. I have a great ability to shift from one activity to the other without letting issues bleed into the other. So when I am with my kids or coaching a game, I’m present there. When I’m meeting with a client, I’m present there too.
Do you cook?
That’s a big fat…NO! My kids get nervous when I even hint at trying to cook anything other than oatmeal (and even then, they worry and have taken over the role themselves). BUT – I have mastered cleaning up the kitchen and I am a master eater of what other people cook. Luckily, Lisa is inspired and inspiring in the kitchen, and to say that our family is always well nourished is a complete understatement.
Do you garden?
Well, I have an amazing organic farm in my yard. But, again, I have nothing to do with it except for being the head of irrigation and enjoying the awesome harvests all season long.
Favourite morning routine?
Ideally, it starts with a sleep in – but I can’t seem to get past 7:30 anymore, no matter what time I go to bed or how hard I try! A great day for me starts with a quick check on e-mails that came overnight, followed by a workout (a run or hockey preferred), followed by breakfast with my kids before sitting back down to work. My first step is to make the priority list, followed by starting to check things off (of course, it won’t take long before other urgent needs come up from a client that change my day’s focus, but rolling with it all makes it easier than working against it).
Fortaleza Anejo Tequila. Over lots of ice.
Chips and salsa.