My partnership breakup was messy.

The company was growing, profitable, and opportunistic.  The partners were divided. After 10 years of running a business together, the three of us were all going in different directions. Our team was following whoever was the last conversation or loudest partner. Like kids in a bad marriage, they were just surviving hoping the parents would figure it out.

We did. We got a divorce.

The divorce was quick so we separated before we killed the company with split direction, multiple strategies, in-fighting, lack of communication, and all the other things that happen when pride and ego turn into malicious attacks or passive aggressive interactions. And lawyers …  can’t forget the lawyers.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Is your company showing signs of slipping into our country’s political culture?

Here’s my experience on how to keep your house together. This doesn’t mean it’s always happy and wonderful. It’s OK to have conflict and hard conversations. How you do it matters.

How do you do it?


Your way or the highway is a one way street to failure. Want to die on every hill? That’s going to be a challenge. Every hill is not worth dying on. Humility allows you to back off your inner “control freak.”

2. Communication

What’s your cadence for communication with your partners and team? Is it open? Are you all clear and on the same page about the top priorities? Clarity and consistency across the executive team are key drivers of trust. Not sure where to start? Start back at the beginning of your relationship. You used to meet often, talk about everything, challenge each other without taking offense. What got you here can take you there. Try it bringing it back.

3. Accountability

When there is a divided house multiple strategies emerge and they don’t go together. There are different metrics for winning, different players needed on the bus. When you go after two strategies they pull at and drown the business in problems, increased costs, people attrition, and a flat out no fun workplace. Agree on your strategy and system that aligns the company. Then, hold each other accountable to that, not to your hurt feelings.

A house divided cannot stand. A humble heart, clear and consistent communication, and accountability to a defined strategy and system will help keep your house in order, healthy, and moving forward.

Is your “House” divided anywhere – family, partners, locations, inter-department, executive team, vision, business model, incentives, culture?

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
May 9, 2019
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.