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363. Building a Two-Career Home with Tiffany Sauder

the daily helping podcast May 27, 2024

There are a ton of resources out there about how to intentionally build your business culture, structure, and capacity, but almost none when it comes to doing the same for your family. Our guest on the show today, Tiffany Sauder, is here to fill that gap. 

Tiffany is a successful CEO, married to another professionally driven person, and is mother to four kids. A few years ago, her marriage and her family were at a breaking point. Everyone was stressed and frustrated. That’s when it hit Tiffany: She needed to run her family like she did her business. 

Today she teaches other families to do the same: Establish a mission and vision; do an honest, detailed evaluation where everyone in your family is at; and make concrete plans on how to function and be accountable.

If you’ve been looking for concrete, realistic ways for your marriage and family to be better for everyone, be sure to tune in.


The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway

Choose your hard. Being a grownup is hard, life is hard, every path is hard. Getting up at 5 a.m. to work out is hard, not feeling comfortable in your skin is hard. Being on a budget is hard, being broke is hard. Staying married is hard, getting divorced is hard. Owning your own business is hard, working for somebody else is hard. The point is not for this to be frustrating. The point is to accept life is hard. And I think as soon as that's our expectation, we can say, I'm gonna choose the hard that aligns with the life I want, with where I want to go, with the relationships I want to have, with the impact I want to have on the world. And when you choose that hard, then it's not hard because it's in service to who you're becoming and the impact you're gonna have on the world.




Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.



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Download Transcript Here

Tiffany Sauder:

And my goals personally were as important as my kids’ goals and priorities, were as important as my husband's goals and priorities. How do we make it a life of and? How do we say yes to all the things without allowing our individual wells to be so dry that we're not existing in our lives at all?


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Hello and welcome to The Daily Helping with Dr. Richard Shuster, food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, tools to win at life. I'm your host, Dr. Richard. Whoever you are, wherever you're from and whatever you do, this is the show that is going to help you become the best version of yourself. 


Each episode you will hear from some of the most amazing, talented and successful people on the planet who followed their passions and strive to help others. Join our movement to get a million people each day to commit acts of kindness for others. Together, we're going to make the world a better place. Are you ready? Because it's time for your Daily Helping. 


Thanks for tuning into this episode of The Daily Helping Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Richard. I am so excited to share our guest with you today. Her name is Tiffany Sauder. She is a powerhouse entrepreneur, six-time Inc 5000 Business and a CEO. She spoke to a remarkable life with four kids, three businesses, two careers. Her mission armed individuals with practical tools for a life where dreams and responsibilities coexist. 


Tiffany, we're going to have a great conversation today. Welcome to The Daily Helping. It is awesome to have you with us today.


Tiffany Sauder:

Thanks for having me, Dr. Richard.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Absolutely. So take us into the Tiffany Sauder time machine. Let's go back and talk about what puts you on the path you're on today.


Tiffany Sauder:

Yeah. So I'm a small town kid that was born, I stay with the big city spirit. And so I spent my childhood on the farm, watching my dad work a lot. As a family, we did more business stuff than we did sports stuff. And so I think we're all some level of product of our environment and I won't take you through every year since I was three years old. 


But I think that really informed my perspective on the world that, like we really can create our futures and we really can have the muscle of pushing, creating growth inside of our lives and we can continue to create change of the sort that we want, and like all the way through life. That doesn't just have to happen when we're young and building a family and starting a career and choosing college. We can continue to have that muscle into now middle age. I'm going to be 44 next month. 


So I spent the first 20 years of my professional life building an agency, a marketing agency here in Indianapolis. That's doing amazing. I appointed a president about two years ago who's doing an incredible job running the day-to-day and I still wear the CEO hat over there. But as I started to have some time for other professional pursuits and kind of think about what was my gift to the world as I looked at the second kind of 20 years of my career, my husband and I chose a two career family. 


My husband is an Ivy League athlete. He's a first born. He's got big dreams and lots of things he wants to do in the world. I'm a first born and I've got big dreams and things I want to do in the world. And I also wanted to have a big family. We have four girls from 15 to 3 years old, all with the same husband, just really far apart. I had one in my 20s, two in my 30s and one at 40. 


And so I just feel like my life story is such that I can relate to a lot of different people. And as I've put together our lives in this two-career family built, filled with lots of achievement, there were seasons where we lost one another, we pushed our marriage to the edge. We were both living kind of empty shells of achiever lifestyles, and we really recrafted our home, the way it feels, the way we interact. 


And I just wanted to share that toolbox, my lessons because I don't think that there is a strong voice right now teaching us how to do it. There's a lot of encouragement to chase your dreams. There's a lot of encouragement for young women and moms to stay inside of your career. I think that's amazing, but we need to know how in a way that we don't lose ourselves, we don't lose love, we don't let go of the ability to proactively live inside of our own lives.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

You mentioned Tiffany, you're in this household where there's two driven type A first born dreamers in the home and that chasing that really had your marriage on the ropes. And I appreciate that you said that there's a lot of people who are at a boy and rah rah and you could do it kind of a thing, but the skill set is not something that most people are taught. So in that moment where you and your partner are realizing that your marriage may be over, how did you find those tools that are in your toolbox to save your marriage and transform your household?


Tiffany Sauder:

Yeah. So one of the most freeing quotes, I think it comes from Esther Perel, and then I'll get to your actual question is that, she said a hundred percent of us are married more than one time, just 50 percent of us to the same person. And that was a very freeing like orientation to me. It’s like this we were married in our mid-20s. This sort of like fairy tale, young love. Yes, I know there's big scary bears in the world, but none of them are going to touch us because we're better than that. It's sort of my perspective I think on the first marriage that I had to my husband. 


And as we got to this place where we both like said out loud, we both deserve more than what our marriage has become. So we have a choice to start again together or not. And so we had a big choice to make. And as we worked on putting ourselves back together so that we could put our family back together, so that we could put our household back together, it started with an honest admission of the problem. Like both of you have to come to a place that says, yeah, our old tools don't work. Our old definition of success doesn't work. Like the past is not serving us. And we both had to be willing to say who I am is not good enough for where we're going and both be willing to learn. 


So I think that's the first step. I'm very aware that I had the privilege, the opportunity that both of us were sort of there on the same moment, because I think there can be tug of war even in that. But like we both are willing to go be students again, and I think it starts there. And then it was a combination of, but no, some great therapies certainly that helped us have new vocabulary. 


But as we started to heal, I started to look inside of our home and say there is not a system, there is not vocabulary, there are not agreements. There is not a way that we run our household in a way that is moving us toward our goals. We've had all this change. You look inside your business, and you have processes and frameworks and people who have clearly defined roles. And when you bring on a $2,000,000 client, you say, hey, there's change that's coming down the pipe. We need to look at our structure and see if we need to change the org chart and hire a new person. And you think about your capacity expanding and contracting through different stages of change in your business, but we don't think about that in our homes. 


And that really is what I started to look at is if I were to run a home like a business and my goals personally were as important as my kids’ goals and priorities, were as important as my husband's goals and priorities, how do we make it a life of and? How do we say yes to all the things without allowing our individual wells to be so dry that we're not existing in our lives at all?


Dr. Richard Shuster:

So I'm really excited to get into this. I am curious. You had mentioned that what was crucial for this change to occur was the modification of your definition of success. So curious before you guys made this shift, what was your definition of success and what is it now?


Tiffany Sauder:

I think in this version of our marriage, I understand there are some things that are mine. My problems, mine to take care of. My husband does not need to come in and like validate me. I can just like it because I like it. I can want to wear it because I want to wear it. I can make my hair red cause I think it -- like I don't need to wait for his validation and permission and that was a me thing. It was not something that he was like asking me to do. It was just like I needed to give myself permission in some places to say these are me things. This is stuff I want on a life. He doesn't have to want it too for me to feel like I can step in and go experience those things. 


So one is my podcast project, is certainly one of those. I am a very vulnerable person. I'm a verbal processor and that is just like who I am. It's how God made me, and my husband is much more private. He is an internal processor. Like the idea of turning on a microphone and him not having had a chance to think about it would be very disruptive for him. And so him respecting and understanding, hey, this is just me and this is my processing and this helps me make sense of the world and this helps me sort things out and helps me meet new people and helps my world keep getting bigger without me needing to travel because that's really difficult with just what I've said yes to, with our kids' commitments. And so him saying like babe, I see you. I get that part of you. I love that part of you, and I free that part of you. And it not happen to be that he has to come on that same journey with me, if that makes sense. That would be kind of a micro example.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

That's a great example. So I want to jump back. And I loved your definition. I mean, you wouldn't start a business without having these defined roles, processes and systems in place. You certainly wouldn't be able to scale it effectively if you tried that. And so you recognize that this doesn't make sense because we don't do it in the home. So give us the Tiffany Sauder playbook, if you will. If somebody is listening to this and they're nodding their head because they're going, yeah, I don't, we don't really have any structure in our home. How do you start? Give us the foundational pieces.


Tiffany Sauder:

Yeah, I can kind of give you the framework. I created a course called the Life of Ant Academy. It's twice a year. We open it up and have people go through it. We'll start it in the fall of 2024, if people are interested in joining the wait list. But the overall framework is that you have to start just like a business starts with its mission and values, a family has to start in the same way. 


And so the first module is really about helping you get clear about where are you going and what's important to you. And depending on your season of life when I started this process, I could only see 24 to 48 hours ahead. We were in so much pain. Life was very heavy. Things were not going great in all pockets of my life and so not being able to see 5-10 years ahead is okay. But I knew that I needed less reactivity in my day. I knew that I needed more sleep in my day. I knew that I needed more pause, and I didn't know how to do it. 


So sometimes it’s very tiny wishes that we're going for and starting with, and it's not great big thing, but that's really module one. How do you get clear about where you're going and where you're going and defining balance for your family, your stage. For me, the definition of balance is making choices inside the quadrant where your values and priorities are always aligned. I think we wrongly connect the concept of balance to time. We can go into that more deeply if you want to, but so that's really what -- it's like you got to define balance. You have to define your goals and priorities and you have to get clear about what do you even want because you don't know how to make trade-offs if you don't know where you're going. 


Then you have to go through, and you make three lists. The I'm pissed list, I hate list, and I want list. And that is getting down to brass tacks. Like what are the things where you walk in your house and you just literally think like that pisses me off when blah, blah, blah blah blah because we have to get the pain resolved. We have to. And so you have to get those things out on the table. You have to be willing to have an honest admission of where is the pain, where are the issues and how do we start to solve for that. 


Then we'll help you walk through how are you going to decide different things around that. Are you going to delegate it? Are you going to outsource it? Are you going to create a little different choice inside of the family? I use the example of, let's say you want to take the trash out. Well, that's a fairly obtuse thing. Is that like, once a year we take the trash out? Is it once a month we take the trash out? Is it once a week? Is it every day? Is it nothing is ever allowed in a trash can in the house ever and you need to take it directly to the garage? Like you have to have standards and agreements inside of the household of what does Don look like. 


And then the last is a system of accountability. We know this in our business. If you don't have good hygiene for managing what are the agreements we've made, what are the commitments we've made, what's changed in our lives that we need to respond to, what's coming down the pipe, then it doesn't work. So a lot of people listen to this and say, like, holy ****, that sounds like a lot of work, Tiffany. And I say, well your life already sucks. I've just chosen to pick some things that suck that put me in a life that I love. 


And so yeah, it's definitely work to administer this. It definitely takes work to move the family into a place where people understand what are your roles, and how do we manage a level of order and cleanliness that makes sense for everybody here? And how do we not get buried underneath? We're so behind and things are broken and there's no laundry and somebody forgot to pick somebody up. Like I just refuse to live in that environment. And so this framework has helped free us from that for sure.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

So I have a few questions about that, but I didn't want to lose the thought because you said that you view balance not so much as time but so much as your values which I've never heard anybody put it that way before. So go a little deeper into that if you would please.


Tiffany Sauder:

So as a working mom, I think lots of it, but that's who I am. A lot of people will say, oh, my life feels out of balance or once you have another kid, like, oh, things are out of balance. Or your kid joins the travel team and like oh, things are out of balance. 


And so as a marketer and a brand strategist, I've been taught to like, think about words. Like what is this word? And I started to like, ask people. If you say my life is out of balance, do you have a definition for when it's in balance? What does that look like? And oftentimes what was in their head was some version of, it means that I got up in the morning after sleeping eight hours. I had breakfast that was like a warm omelet. I had a chance to go work out. My kids didn't scream on the way out the door. I had a very productive day at work. I got home and there was dinner ready because I had food prepped. Everybody got to practice on time. Everybody got showers and bedtime that night. We had some special family time. I got to watch TV with my partner. And then I went to bed again. 


It's like, well, that's going to happen almost never. Like life has a lot of variables in it. Kids get sick, things change, meetings get rescheduled. There's a fire alarm that goes out. Like these things happen. And so when we connect it to this concept of time, I think what we're saying is I don't actually know what balance means for me. What I've found in my own life is that when I am doing things that are aligned with my values, who I am and are totally aligned with my priorities, the things I want to achieve, then I can do those things inside that quadrant for a very long time. 


I don't necessarily need -- because when you're in the zone, when you're excited about what you're working towards, you're less concerned with all this compartmentalization that we imagine some adults somewhere on the planet is actually living, and like monks do. But the rest of us, we’re in the chaos and disruption and flow of an imperfect world are going to need to figure out how do you be very responsive to what the day has. But in every way that you can, be in situations, be doing activities are aligned with your values, who you are and your priorities, what you're trying to become.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

This makes perfect sense. And I love the way you described it. I want to now bring us back to what we're talking about. So having a family unit that runs like a business, in my mind, I can see the org chart, right. Like you and your spouse are the executives in the company. The kids are employees. But I'm curious because you've got four kids and they're of various ages. Obviously, when they're really, really little, their wants and needs are not as I won't say as significant, but they're very different than somebody who's an adolescent. So how do we involve the kids into building the organization and give them meaningful input, and responsibility in your structure?


Tiffany Sauder:

Yep. So let me speak just real quickly on structure and then I'll speak to that. There's a Great Wall Street Journal article that says every household needs a chief operating officer and a chief financial officer. In some homes, that's the same person. But I really am the COO of our household. Before I called myself that, I was already that person. Like, I'm the one who's functionally running all of the things of when is laundry getting done, what's getting repaired, who's coming to the house? When is the lawn getting mowed? Where do the kids need to be? Like functionally executing the operations of the household.


And as kids get older, we ask our kids what are your priorities? We're getting ready to go into summer and we ask all of our four kids, the 3-year-old like it's not that meaningful, but beginning to ask this, her feeling heard no matter what she says is relevant. I asked my big kids what are the biggest priorities for you for the summer? What do you want to get to the first day of school and say I'm so glad I got these things done? Is it time with friends? Is it camps? Is it leadership exposure? Is it shadowing somebody at work? Is it so many hours of driving in the car because you're trying to get your license? Like, tell me your priorities because as the chief operating officer, my job is to put the puzzle pieces of our families priorities together in a way that everybody feels like they're a customer of our household. 


So there is not employees and leadership, they're partners with me and I treat them as such. And they help me decide what are the consequences if we don't do this. If you don't do this stuff, what do you think should happen? Nothing? You can't go to a friend's house for a week? You put your phone -- like you tell me what do you think the consequences? And I'll just administer what we decided together. 


Kids want to be involved. They want to feel seen and heard. They want to believe -- my middle school that her social life isn't important to me. And we can accidentally be like, well, that's not important. I don't have time to take you. It’s like when she knows I hear you, I see you, I know that that helps you feel connected, I know that makes you excited to go back to school. I know that -- like all those feed who she is. And so how do I help be an agent of that? So that is a big piece of it is ask your kids what are your priorities? I want to facilitate those, and will you help me facilitate mine?


Example in our house because we still have a three-year old is like I love to work out in the morning when my husband is traveling. My big girls need to get my elementary kid and preschool kid up in the morning. And like, will you guys do that for me? There's a 10-minute gap that they can't get on the bus because I don't get home in time from going to the gym. I said, will you guys help me serve my priority of being healthy, of living to be 102 years old so that I can see every single grandkid? Will you help me with that priority by getting your sister up for school so that I can go work out while your dad is traveling? When they understand it that way versus it just being this demand, command environment, it's a totally different relationship inside of your home and it's been a total game changer for us.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

I love this. So as I'm thinking about this, I know corporations hold board meetings, sometimes quarterly, sometimes annually. How often do you guys check in on your goals? How often would you say that a family should be constantly revisiting this or updating it accordingly? 


Tiffany Sauder:

So we look at ours quarterly overall and then we have a weekly family meeting. And the weekly family meeting is much more tactical and administrative, just like an executive meeting would be of like what's the scorecard, what's coming up, who needs to be where. My 8-year-old might be like I have a field trip and I need to make sure that I have a brown paper bag to put my lunch in. It's like, okay, great. The family meeting is the place where, like, I understand what's coming in the week, what's different than normal, if dad's traveling, if I have a late-night dinner. Everybody knows the lay of the land going into the week. 


And then quarterly, we look ahead and say what's the next season? Like summer's coming. Are we going to get a different nanny? Are we going to -- like what's it going to look like? Who needs to go? Who's going to drive you to camp? Like we figure out the next season. So we're very tied to the school calendar right now. It's like school starting, that's a big transition. We have a daughter that's in club sports, that creates a really big six-month season for us. And then summer is kind of the third one. So we're very tied to that just because of the ages of our kids, but quarterly seems to be the right cadence. There's enough that happens that you can adjust some things and it gives you a chance to look forward into what's coming.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

So give us a couple of examples when you're forward thinking and you're setting these big family goals, what are some of the things that you guys strive to achieve collectively?


Tiffany Sauder:

Well, let me think of something that we're working on. I mean a big one that we're -- like my husband and I are talking about is our oldest goes to college in three years. And so we sat down and said, what are the things that we want to be sure that she knows has learned or has been exposed to before she leaves? And a big one, we notice the big gap is like we have done not a very good job of like financial education and her having some part of what she needs for her to pay for on her own. 


And so we're right now working through he and I getting aligned on what that's going to look like in our high school and middle school. We’re putting them on a version of a budget that is really about teaching them money is not infinite. You're going to have to make some trade-offs and allowing them to begin to see and understand like what things cost. My parents did an amazing job on that with me and it's easy to just say yes and get out your credit card and be like they'll learn it later, but I don't want to do that. 


So that would be an example of I think something bigger as we look ahead that we're really being, I would say we're probably not too early, but proactive about how do we be thoughtful about that over the next few years.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

I like this a lot. And so when you start implementing this, how many years have you been doing this in your home?


Tiffany Sauder:

We've been doing it about three or four years. And I tell people it took us probably two years to get into the flow of all of it, because there was just -- like in a business, when your business is not doing well, when people are unclear on their roles, when the values are not being behaved, the culture is weird, it's not profitable. There's a lot of things just to fix first. And we were in fix mode for a while of just like, how do we triage some of these things that are really painful and they're breaking a lot. 


And then as we started to get through that, I started to say I need to manage this with the same amount of intention as I do my businesses. And I want to do it in a way that is not rigid because I'm actually not rigid at all. There's a lot of fluidity in our lives, but as busy as it is, but there have to be a few things that we anchor to, a few things that we say this is who we are, this is where we're going, and this is what we do. This is how we behave, and this is the existence we're going to live in. 


And so I started just training the company. I did -- the company, my family. I didn't announce to them we are going to do a weekly family meeting. I just started always bringing people together on Sunday afternoon around the island and saying like, hey, I just want to look through the lunch menu with you, Ivy, and see what days do you want to pack and when do you want to buy? And let's look at the sports calendar and talk about which mornings you have early morning swimming, Aubrey. And I talk to my husband about which mornings are you going to go to the gym and who's going to take her to her 6:00 AM. 


So that before the week started, so much was solved. And then they started just coming, like, hey, mom, are we going to connect again on this afternoon? I know you like to meet on Sunday afternoons. And now they say, like, are we going to have our family meeting? But it didn't start with this big announcement. It was just I have to start getting us in the habit of admit of the business of our family. And I want to do it in a way that is not like horrible and painful. 


So sometimes we'll play a game for 20 minutes or I'll have Ivy share, our third one, like something that she learned in social studies in second grade, and she feels so smart or she'll rip off some state capitals or like just a way for the family to connect. And then we start the week where everybody is like, I know the plan. And so then if there's a change, we can respond to the variable, but we are not micro solving every single day.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Makes sense. You mentioned that so much at the beginning was spent fixing things. So if somebody listens to this is in that spot, what would you say, priority wise, this is the thing that you should fix first?


Tiffany Sauder:

Well, I would make your I'm pissed list and I would start with the things that have the most heat around it for you. Like I'm pissed, I can't find time to work out. I'm pissed,  my kids never put their laundry away. I don't know what your thing is but start with the place with the most heat around it. If you're looking for a tool to start with, I talked about having the morning wind up and evening wind down. And that is our kitchen space in particular, kind of kitchen and primary living area. Everybody's got like a place where everybody drops their stuff and watches TV and it's like that room is used all the time. 


And so every night, we do evening wind down where the blankets are put back, the couch is put back together. We sweep the floor. And it's like I -- somebody said to me, it's kind of like a restaurant. Like when a restaurant closes, they don't just like push the patrons out the front door and shut the lights off and kind of leave the crumbs for tomorrow. They wind down. It is ready for the next day. It is ready for the next table setting. And that's how we treat our household is like the stuff that is the most routine wiping down the counters, taking out -- we've got the bathroom trash and the kitchen trash go out to the garage every night. And it takes about 10 minutes. We are very fast at it. 


But having a fresh start allows us to put today's activity not on yesterday's prime and that has been very freeing for me to start those major spaces fresh every day. And so it doesn't turn into this just I don't know where to sit. Why are these pajamas still here? Like these popcorn bowls are from last Friday. Like all that kind of stuff to me when our space is cluttered, our relationships tend to follow. And so I find when we have our space in order that we behave in a way that is just, I don't know, it's like more sustainable.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Makes total sense. Tiffany, our time together has flown by. And as you know, I wrap up every episode by asking my guest just this one question. That is, what is your biggest helping, that single most important piece of information you would like somebody to walk away with after hearing our conversation today?


Tiffany Sauder:

I would say choose your heart. Being a grown up is hard. Life is hard. Every path is hard. Getting up at 5:00 AM to workout is hard. Not feeling comfortable in your skin is hard. Being on a budget is hard. Being broke is hard. Staying married is hard. Getting divorced is hard. Owning your own business is hard. Working for somebody else is hard. 


The point is not for this to be frustrating. The point is to accept life is hard. And I think as soon as that's our expectation, we can say I'm going to choose the hard that aligns with the life I want, with where I want to go, with the relationships I want to have, with the impact I want to have on the world. And when you choose that hard, then it's not hard because it's in service to who you're becoming and the impact you're going to have in the world.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Well said. Tiffany, tell us where people can learn more about you online.


Tiffany Sauder:

Yes, you can find me on Instagram, @TiffanySauder, S-A-U-D-E-R. That is definitely a window into my actual life of a two-career home with four kids. And then also at, You can find my podcast and the Life of Anne Academy. If you're interested in that at all, join the wait list or learning more.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Perfect. And we will have everything linked to Tiffany Sauder in the show notes at Well, this is an awesome conversation. I took copious notes and I have some things that I think I can implement here, so I'm grateful for you and really thankfully you came on and shared your wisdom with us all today.


Tiffany Sauder:

Thanks for having me, Dr. Richard.


Dr. Richard Shuster:

Absolutely. And I also want to thank each and every one of you who took time out of your day to listen to this conversation. If you liked it, if you're going to write your pissed list and you got all kinds of things you want to do, go give us a follow on a 5 star review on your podcast app of choice, because that is what helps other people find the show. But most importantly, go out there today and do something nice for somebody else, even if you don't know who they are. And post on your social media feeds using the hashtag #MyDailyHelping because the happiest people are those that help others.


There is incredible potential that lies within each and every one of us to create positive change in our lives (and the lives of others) while achieving our dreams.

This is the Power of You!