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The Roadrunner-Coyote Rulebook

Recently I gave a short presentation to a group of business people, all of whom have children, on the subject of possibly bringing their children into their businesses.

On one of the Powerpoint slides, the heading “Rules and Roles” appeared. I explained that it was key for every new employee to have a clearly defined role, and that this was even more important for family members upon joining a family company.

But in addition to the “Roles”, I really wanted to emphasize the “Rules” part. Most families do have a few rules that they use to govern household issues, but very few families actually write them down and keep track of them.

For families in business together, it is considered a “best practice” to not only have rules, but also to write them down, review and update them, refer to them as needed, and generally know what the rules are and understand how important they are in keeping things clear.

A few months ago I came across something on Twitter that I filed away for a future blog post, and since we are talking about rules, it seems quite à propos to pull it out now. Someone had taken a photo at the Museum of Moving Image in New York and tweeted it out, and it got retweeted by several others.

I don’t think it came close to going viral, but it did garner quite a bit of attention for a few hours. The photo was a list of 9 rules that Chuck Jones of Warner Brothers had compiled to govern the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons of our youth.

For example: Rule 1 states that the “Roadrunner cannot harm the Coyote, except by going Beep Beep”. Rule 4 states, “No dialogue, ever, except Beep Beep”. Rule 8 says, “Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy”.

This got me wondering why they actually took the time to write these things down, and whether they made these rules before they began, or as the went along over the years. Also, did they write the rules out all at once, or did the list get added to over the course of seasons? How often did they have to refer to the rules, was it only occasionally if there were creative differences, or if a new person was brought onto the team?

My guess is that they did find it useful to write the rules down in order to make things consistent over time. If the Coyote suddenly started buying his stuff from Amazon instead of Acme, viewers would have known immediately that something was amiss.

I think we all knew that the chances of the Coyote ever catching the Roadrunner were worse than for Charlie Brown to ever actually kick the football that Lucy was holding.

In an attempt to tie these rules into the realm of Family Business, I think it makes sense to look at the second rule on the list.

Rule 2: “No outside force can harm the Coyote, only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products”.

Some family businesses fail due to outside forces, relating to their markets, their products, competition, new technology, and all sorts of other “business” reasons.

Unfortunately, a larger percentage of family businesses actually fall apart due to family issues, and not due to “outside forces”.

Does that make them “inept”? Well not necessarily, that may be too harsh a word for it. But if more families in business would take the time to create rules together, make sure that they are understood and followed, and kept all their lines of communication open, it would certainly lead to less family business failures.

Rule 9: “The Coyote is always more humiliated tham harmed by his failures”. Unfortunately in some families, some members do feel humiliated, and often some people are harmed.

It is never too early, nor too late, to start working on your business family’s rulebook.

 

Négocier avec sa famille

Cette semaine j’ai eu le plaisir d’assister à une activité de Groupe Relève Québec, qui est devenue l’inspiration pour ce blogue hebdomadaire. C’était une présentation donnée par M.Pierre Gratton, de UQTR, qui nous parlait de son thèse de recherche qu’il entend poursuivre pour l’obtention de son doctorat.

M.Gratton était venu nous parler du “Processus de négociation d’une transmission/reprise externe”. Malgré le fait qu’il ne s’agissait pas d’une interlocution sur les transferts familiaux, je suis content d’avoir fait le voyage à Québec quand même, puisque des questions sur les transmissions familiales ont aussi été abordées.

C’était justement la réponse à une de ces questions que j’ai retenu et qui m’inspire à écrire ce blogue. M.Gratton mentionnait que lors d’une réunion avec une famille qui s’apprêtait à entreprendre une succession entre père et fils, il avait déclarer que certains éléments seront “à négocier” entre les membres de la famille.

Il semble que la mère était choquée par cette proposition; comment ça, “négocier avec sa famille?” Mais lors de sa prochaine rencontre avec cette famille, la mère, ayant bien réfléchi, est venue s’excuser, et lui a mentionné qu’il avait bel et bien raison, et que oui, il y aurait besoin de négocier les termes et conditions du transfert entre les membres de sa famille.

Retournons au sujet de la présentation sur le processus de négociation de M. Gratton. Si j’ai bien compris ce qu’il avançait, c’est en grande partie la définition que plusieurs donnent au mot “négociation” qui est beaucoup trop étroite, et ce qu’il voulait offrir est une nouvelle interprètation beaucoup plus large.

Notons que “affaires” et “business” se traduisent en espagnol comme “negocios”.

J’appuie son raisonnement sur ce sujet, puisque pour moi, nous négocions les détails de notre vie plusieurs fois par jour, sans même nous en rendre compte. Décider ce qu’on va faire aujourd’hui, où on va manger, est-ce que notre ado est dû pour se faire couper les cheveux, ce sont des négociations que nous tenons de façon régulière.

Ce que M. Gratton propose, c’est de créer un outil, ou un modèle, qui décrit tout les éléments qui font partie d’une transmission ou reprise d’une entreprise entre le cédant et le repreneur. Il nous a dit qu’il limitait sa recherche aux transferts externes, puisque l’idée d’élargir le contexte pour inclure les transferts internes et familiaux serait un travail beaucoup trop onéreux.

Mais mes blogues se portent sur les PME familiales, donc je me permets de continuer sur cette longueur d’ondes.

Pour moi, les mots “négociation” et “discussion” ne sont pas aussi différents que plusieurs penseraient. Je préconise la communication ouverte, claire et régulière. Que ce soit par écrit ou oralement, le simple fait d’avoir un échange d’idées, où les partis sont libres d’ajouter leurs pensées, est la clé.

Dans la PME familiale, souvent il y a beaucoup trop de “non dit”. Trop de choses se passent en silence, et chacun doit deviner ce que les autres pensent, veulent, et croient. Avec le temps, les gens ont chacun leur façon d’interprèter ce qui se passe, mais personne en parle, puisqu’il y a des sujets dont on ne parle pas entre membres de la famille.

Arrêtons ces niaiseries!

OK, je m’excuse, je suis parti sur une tangeante. On a commencé ce blogue en parlant de transfert d’une entreprise d’un propriétaire à un futur propriétaire, ce qui est quelque chose qui se négocie, même entre les membres d’une famille.

Mais là, je me suis permis de me plaindre du manque de communication entre les membres d’une famille que travaillent ensemble dans une PME familiale au jour le jour, en dehors d’un contexte de transfert.

Mon point c’est que la communication est importante tout au long de notre vie, en famille, et en affaires, et que nous devons travailler très fort pour encourager les gens à communiquer leur propre point de vue.

Mon défi pour ceux qui travaillent au sein d’une entreprise familiale est de créer un forum régulier (aux trois mois?) où les membres de la famille peuvent échanger sur tout sujet à l’intersection de la famille et la compagnie. Je vous encourage de mettre la génération montante en charge de l’agenda, du processus, et le suivi. Voyez où ça vous mènera.

Look Forward, Don’t Look Back

This past week I attended a full day event put on by IMAQ, the “Institut de la Médiation et Arbitrage du Québec”, which included four separate presentations by experienced practitioners in the field.

Their goal was to “demystify” mediation and arbitration as they pertain to workplace conflicts, and I attended to get a feel for the local med-arb scene here in Montreal. The quality of the presentations was quite high, and it was nice to learn that the alternative dispute resolution world seems to be healthy and growing.

One of the presentations dealt with how to handle a narcissistic person when conducting a mediation. The two presenters were both experienced mediators, but they came from different professions. The first one to speak was a lawyer, which is not uncommon, but the second was a psychologist.

The psychologist offered lots of do’s and don’t’s for dealing with this type of person, and I was reminded of a recent discussion I had with a colleague who told me that he tried to avoid dealing with business founders because most of them are narcissists.

I am not sure that founders are actually true narcissists, but I can tell you that if there is a continuum of narcisism, most successful business founders would score more towards the higher end of the scale for the most part.

But the main idea for this blog post was hinted at in the title, and it dealt with looking forward versus looking backwards.

During a presentation on the various different types of alternative dispute resolution, there was a slide that mentioned that mediators look forward, while arbitrators look backward. Hmmm. I never thought about it like that.

An arbitrator listens to both sides and passes judgment, and ends up issuing a ruling, much like a judge, but with fewer rules and often less formality.

The arbitrator looks to what happened in the past, hears both parties talk about things that happened in the past, and tries to adjudicate and pronounce some sort of ruling that will be applied today to resolve the issue.

A mediator looks at things from a much different perspective, and in many ways cares more about the future than the past.

When you think about workplace situations, assuming that the people involved in a dispute both want to keep their jobs, it is important to find a durable, sustainable solution, which is why mediation is often preferred over arbitration.

When we look at family businesses, it is even more important to look for ways to work things out in a way that makes sense for the long term for the family and for the business.

Some people might say that once you get to the point of needing to bring in a mediator, things must already be pretty bad, and that could be true, but it is a matter of degree.

Ideally everyone gets along and things are harmonious. But often people don’t get along perfectly and they need help straightening things out, and this can sometimes be done with some simple facilitation.

If things start to get even worse, maybe it is time to try something more like mediation, where the mediator tries to find common ground on which to rebuild the harmony that people are trying to get back.

The sooner you recognize that something is amiss and bring in someone to help sort it out, the more options you will have between facilitation, mediation, or even arbitration.

If you wait too long and the dispute gets uglier, then the choices sadly diminish and it will become time to “lawyer up”, and that’s when you get those stories about family businesses that you read about in the papers.

And they rarely have happy endings.

 

You Can’t See What You Can’t See

Is a blindspot really a blindspot if you don’t know you have it?

As is often the case, this week’s blog subject is based on something that happened to me in real life, and I have accepted the challenge of relating the story in an interesting and useful way.

Since this story involves people in my own family, I will use fake names for them, as I usually do when I talk about real people, and I will adopt my standard custom of employing a pseudonym that starts with the same first letter as their real names.

My daughter wanted me to call her “Sassy”, and she wanted me to call her brother “Rusty”, but he didn’t really like that name, and so somehow we settled on him being “Rambo” instead. If you have children, you probably understand the importance of keeping your kids happy and staying on their good side. Now Sassy and Rambo would make better names for pets than kids, but what the heck.

Rambo and Sassy will be going to a new school in September, and as part of the paperwork that the school has asked for, we needed them to have a physical exam done by a doctor, in part to pronounce them able to participate in the school’s sports programs.

So I made an appointment for them and brought them to see my doctor to get them checked out, have the papers officially signed, and thereby cross another item off the checklist that sees them one step closer to being ready for September.

Sassy went first, initially going with the nurse for noting her height and weight, as well as an eyesight verification. Rambo followed the same sequence, except that after the doctor finished with him, I got called in because there was something noteworthy that he wanted to share with me.

The doctor handed me a piece of paper on which he had written 20/60 and 20/50, which were the results of his eye test. What? Really?

How could this be, he never once said anything to us about having trouble seeing? I guess his vision has always been bad because he told us that he has not noticed any deterioration.

So I had the paper in my hand with the numbers on it and Sassy saw it and asked what it was. I told her that we would talk about it later, and then she said “Is Rambo blind?” She does have a tendency to exaggerate, even though I have told her a million times to stop it.

But when I confirmed that, yes, Rambo apparently suffers from poor vision, she proclaimed “I knew it! I knew it!” Apparently, Sassy has been telling her parents for years that her brother doesn’t see well, and we ignored her.

So getting back to the question I asked at the beginning of this post, the answer is a definite YES. Even if you don’t know that you have a blindspot, it’s still a blindspot. And if you have an observant sibling, they may have noticed it.

Everyone has blindspots, and it isn’t always easy to acknowledge them, understand them, accept that they are real, and manage them. It can be helpful to learn about them because that really is the first important step to doing something about them.

But like anything else in a family, and especially in a family business, the way that you learn about your blindspots, and how your family members use that information makes all the difference in the world.

The importance of Self-Awareness cannot be overestimated, but having a family where each member helps the others overcome weaknesses is a wonderful gift that is even more precious.

It is so much better than a family where members use people’s weaknesses against them, but unfortunately that happens all too often.

Family Business HR – Human Resources, or Human Relations?

When people cite statistics about family businesses, they often talk about how many such businesses exist, what percentage of GDP they produce, and how many people they employ. That’s a lot of human resources.

Most of these businesses, however, are actually quite small, so very few of them have a human resources, or “HR” department. Some companies, when they get big enough, will get to the point where they actually hire someone for the role of specifically looking after employee issues.

In my father’s company, we were well on our way to 200 employees before he decided that it was time to hire a “personnel manager”, as the position was often called back in the 80’s.

His job was to look after labour negotiations with the union, as well as benefits, hiring, grievances, and eventually an employee assistance program. The greatest relief in this hiring was experienced by our CFO, because before that, all this stuff was just considered “admin”, and was therefore under his responsibility, by default.

Lately I have been noticing that many people are throwing around the term “HR” more and more. Working in Montreal, I spend lots of time dealing in both French and English, and for some reason I feel like I hear the term (“RH” – resources humaines) quite often.

It could be my imagination, but it feels like it has come to take on a meaning that is broader than the sense of employee work issues. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, because I think it lends itself quite well to my new interpretation.

It is nice that we actually consider people to be a resource, you know, something to be valued and the supply of which you need to spend time and money acquiring and developing. But “resource” also feels pretty impersonal, more like a thing than a living, breathing, feeling person.

So when someone says something like “I don’t like to get into all that HR stuff”, or “our company has been having lots of HR problems”, I like to think about it as if they are issues about Human Relations instead.

There are very few jobs in any company where you don’t need to worry about relations with other humans. We all do it, and we could all do it better too.

You can have one personnel manager whose job it is to deal with major employee issues, but you can’t have just one person in any company worrying about human relations.

Of course like most stuff surrounding the way things work in a business, everything starts at the top and works its way down. The way the owners treat their hired employees becomes a huge part of the culture, and good culture beats great structure.

In a family business, as usual, things are a bit trickier. Do you treat your VP like your VP, or like your daughter? Do people with the same last name as the boss get treated better than others, or worse?

How about the relationships with family members at work versus relations with those same people outside of work? Should they be the same, or should they be different?

There are no standard right or wrong answers, but there are plenty of things to think about and talk about. In smaller companies, everyone knows everyone else, which can be good or bad. As the business grows, it gets harder to know everyone, but communications from top to bottom become even more important.

Culture and communications, and developing good employee working relationships, are not just things that matter in large organisations. They can be even more important in smaller companies, and in family businesses, they can be a key factor in the success of the business and the family.

And you cannot just delegate this stuff to the HR department and the personnel manager.

 

Family Business: Is it all about control?

For the past three years I have been writing this weekly blog that deals mostly with issues surrounding family business. Some subjects have been treated more than once, in different ways, and I have touched on a variety of things to think about.

Today’s subject is one that I am touching on for the first time, and to be honest, I am not sure why it has taken me this long to get to it.

A few weeks ago I was reading a book called The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, and there was one sentence that really struck me, so I highlighted it and put it into the “future blog post” pile. Here is that sentence:

For most human beings, the only thing worse than being controlled, is being controlled AND being lied to about it at the same time. 

This sentence was in a section that dealt with people’s attempt at “closing” a sale with a potential client. I agree that closing objectifies the customer and I personally HATE being “closed”, and hence I stay as far away from those techniques as possible.

But what struck me was how applicable that sentence is to the world that people in business families live in for large periods of their lives.

All too often the generation that is currently in the driver’s seat will be preoccupied with staying in control of as many things as possible for as long as possible, and they will usually believe that they are acting this way because they know best. This is where they may also be lying to themselves.

Those who are in the “Next Gen” seats (now often called the “rising generation”) are often left to wait for their turn behind the wheel, and that can be a very frustrating place to be, just ask Prince Charles.

Thankfully, a family business has quite a few moving parts, which offers forward-thinking families the opportunity to take a very incremental approach to transitioning control from one generation to the next.

There are roles within the management of the business where responsibility can be handed over gradually to those who show an interest and some abilities, to gain experience and slowly move into more senior roles.

There are ways to transition ownership of shares from one generation of owners to the next, and the ways to do this are limited only by the imagination of the CPA’s and lawyers you can find to put together the legal documents.

And let’s not forget the family circle, where some family members can be encouraged to look after the non-business issues, and some form of family governance structures can begin to be instituted.

In the end, if it is to remain a “family business”, then the family will be expected to continue to control the business, into the next generation. But how are they going to control it, if they have not figured out how they are going to work together?

The lawyers and accountants can come up with all sorts of ways to make things fit together in the legal sense, but if the family harmony is not there, chances are something is going to give.

Control is a very tricky issue to figure out, and when it rests in the hands of fewer people, it is often much simpler. But when you go from one generation of owners to the next, you often increase the number of people who will be sharing control.

When a parent is the person who “controls you” by being the one who calls the shots surrounding important things like wealth, it is one thing.

But in a situation where that family member is a sibling, or a cousin, then being controlled can be much more difficult and uncomfortable.

If that is a scenario that you are looking at someday, you may want to begin the process of working out those control issues NOW, or else some family members may begin to feel like they are being controlled in ways that they may not stand for.

And don’t think that you can lie your way out of it either.

Independently Wealthy vs INTERdependently Wealthy

The family business space is a fascinating area because of all the complexities that can arise when you mix business with family. When a business is successful enough to provide the family with not just a job but with significant wealth, things can get even more interesting.

I just finished reading a great book, Strangers in Paradise, by James Grubman, that does a superb job explaining how and why family members from different generations can have such different views about wealth.

The book is worth a read for anyone interested in this subject, whether they are part of a business family or a family with wealth, or advisors to such families. Grubman makes the analogy that those who are not born wealthy, but become wealthy along the way, are like immigrants to a new land.

When those immigrants have children, the children are natives to wealth, and will thus view wealth very differently. The book gives detailed explanations of the different ways that these immigrants make the adjustment to being wealthy, again comparing the journey to that of people who uproot the family and move to a new country.

I recently spent some time with my late father’s sister, asking questions about their childhood and their immigration to Canada, and I can tell you that packing up and moving to another country that you have never even visited can be a terrifying experience, even if you do end up in “paradise”.

One of the things that surpises most people is that wealthy people are not always happier than middle class folks. Money can solve lots of problems, but it can cause just as many, if not more. But few people will feel sorry for those whose problems stem from having too much money.

One of the take-aways for me from readig Strangers in Paradise was Grubman’s use of a new term (for me), which I decided to feature in today’s blog title.

When a family has accumulated significant wealth, and they have decided to keep the wealth together as a family, they need to learn how to get along and figure out how to make decisions together. This is not new to me, or to any regular readers of this blog.

What is new to me is the wonderful term “Interdependently Wealthy”.

Most people have heard the term “independently wealthy”, even if they would not necessarily be able to define it. Just so that we are all on the same page, here is a definition that I just Googled:

Possessing enough wealth that one does not need financial support from another person and does not require income from employment.

So if you have enough wealth that you do not have to rely on anybody else, and you do not need to work, you are independently wealthy, fair enough.

But what about a wealthy family? OK, so maybe they don’t have to work for money, and many families are in the position where the next generation do not have to find a job to pay the bills, and hopefully they can find something productive to devote their lives to (but that is the subject of another blog).

Now let’s look at the part about “does not need financial support from another person”. When the wealth is created, it is very often because of the efforts of one person, and for simplicity’s sake, let’s call him Grandpa.

As long as Grandpa is still alive, things are usually pretty clear, since it is “his” wealth, so he calls all the shots, and few will argue with him.

Once Grandpa is no longer around, and there is not one person, but a number of people who own and control the wealth, I strongly suggest that these people learn to get along.

They are NOT independently wealthy, they have become INTERdependently wealthy.

The difference is huge. Some families have figured out how to make it work. Many other families have great difficulty with the distinction, and unfortunately those are the ones that we hear about the most.

 

Successful Planning: Who Should Be Involved?

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Benjamin Franklin

In no way am I claiming to be smarter than Ben Franklin, but I will take his quote one step further. Franklin was right that planning is very important, but more needs to be added. After all, he died almost 225 years ago.

In the realm of multi-generational family planning, for business families or families of even moderate wealth, it is very important to make sure that you have the right people at the table when it comes time to make the plans.

Let’s look at another great quote (author unknown) that is also very profound. I will give you the backstory in a second.

“Plans that are about us, but don’t include us, are not for us”.

This is a quote that I got from Matt Wesley, a man who I consider to be one of the gurus in helping families with the dynamics of their legacy planning work.

I first heard Matt mention this quote a few months ago during a teleconference presentation for the Purposeful Planning Institute. Then, a few weeks ago while he was co-presenting on another PPI call, an audience member quoted it back to him during the Q & A session.

He thanked the participant and then added a bit more context for those who had missed the original citation. It comes from New Orleans in 2005, post Katrina.

He told us that he got the quote from the work of Margaret Wheatley, who was examining the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Actually, it was a series of disasters, starting with the hurricane, but then also the fallout from the government’s response, which for many people ended up making things worse instead of better.

So where did Wheatley get the quote? It was spray-painted on the outside of one of the flood-ravaged houses in New Orleans. The disaster of the government response stemmed largely from the fact that they were dictating what would be done, without consulting the people for whom it was to be done.

Anyone can make plans, but you will only know how good your plans are once you get to the implementation stage. If things fall apart then, it may have been due to poor implementation, but then, shouldn’t the implementation have been part of the planning too?

If you are planning how you will help people after a flood, you might want to ask them what they need.

If you are planning what assets you are going to leave to your children, and how they are supposed to work together to manage those assets, you just may want to get them involved during the planning.

Here are some common planning approaches:

  1. Parents and advisors make the plans, children find out after death.

Not great, usually pretty bad, family harmony is an afterthought, plenty of disappointment and lack of preparedness to go around.

  1. Parents and advisors make the plans, and inform the children of the plans as a “fait accompli”.

A little bit better, but only slightly. If the siblings get along alright, hopefully they can work through the details and still want to get together as one big happy family over the holidays every year.

  1. Parents and children (actually former children, now adults!) work together on plans, and decisions are made in the best interests of the entire family. Once they know what they want to accomplish, they THEN engage the advisors to fine-tune the details of HOW they will write it up.

Actually, I said that these were common approaches. The last one is easily the best, but it is not yet common enough.

Hopefully, we are getting closer to the point where parents are satisfied that they have done a good enough job as parents to allow their offspring to have some say in their destiny.

The old “it’s MY money, so I will decide what I am going to do with it” seems so 20th century to me.

 

There’s Only So Much I Can Do

A few years ago, I adopted a new “mantra”, or “credo”, after a particularly stressful few months of my life. “There’s only so much you can do”, is how it went.

It is not that I had been a perfectionist beforehand or anything, but I was working pretty hard on a project and I became frustrated that it was not being as well received by everyone as I had hoped, and I became sensitive to some criticism of what I was doing.

Then one day it dawned on me that I was never going to make everyone happy, no matter how hard I tried, even if I bent over backwards. I resigned myself to doing my best, being satisfied with the effort and the result, and thinking, “to hell with it if some people aren’t happy”.

I actually began to frequently repeat the phrase around the house, so much so that my wife actually printed it out and framed it for me to put it up in my office, where I continue to see it daily.

If you have been paying close attention though, you will have noted a slight difference between that mantra and the title of this blog post. I still like the mantra as it is, but I have also come to a major realisation recently, which had me switch out the word “you” and bring in the word “I”.

Now I want to be clear about the reason for the change in words, and also to say that one saying is not necessarily “better” than the other, but that they are slightly different.

My wife might cynically say to me that my preference for the first person pronoun stems from the fact that I always act as if “it’s all about me”, but I would beg to differ.

Instead, I am looking at it more from the “personal responsibility” perspective. When we see the pronoun “you”, it looks like a second person pronoun, but it isn’t really, in this case, is it?

If I were to say, “there is only so much you can do” to a particular person, in response to a particular situation, then yes, it clearly is a second person pronoun.

But if I say it in the usual context in which I made it my mantra, it is really saying that there is a limit to what “any person” can do, which really makes it a third person pronoun, and what does that really mean?

To me, it is kind of like giving up, and not taking responsibility for MY part in it. During my coaching training, the course leaders often used a technique to drive this point home when a participant would use the pronoun “you” as I way to escape responsibility.

For example, someone would say, “you know, it’s really difficult, because you feel silly, you feel like you might be misunderstood, etc.” The instructor would feign confusion, and say “excuse me, who? Who is ‘you’? Do you mean ‘I’?”

If the person is speaking about himself, then the correct word is “I”, first person. But what is the reason for not saying “I”? In these cases, I think that the person is either trying to de-personalize it, and/or make it seem that that is the reaction that “any normal person” would have.

For me, saying that there is only so much “I can do”, is starting to feel more natural. It can be difficult to get someone to be more personally responsible for their actions, but like any habit, practice, more practice, and even more practice is required.

Once you have that down pat, there are surely others things you can work on too. Here is a suggestion: get rid of the word “but”, and substitute the word “and” in its place.

You may be surprised how much negativity you can get rid of with that simple change. And there is only so much I can do to make you try it!

 

 

Mélanger les cartes d’affaires

Ayant récemment fait traduire mon livre en français, j’ai réalisé que mes cartes d’affaires anglaises seraient probablement mal perçues en compagnie de cette version de mon livre.

Un “business card” peut aller avec un “book”. Mais ça prend une “carte d’affaires” pour aller avec un “livre”. J’avais donc une autre traduction à faire. Et par la suite, ça sera la traduction du site web. En effet, des sites webs, en commençant avec le site spécifique au livre et finalement le site principal.

En traduisant la carte, j’ai fait une réflexion sur les différentes cartes d’affaires que j’ai eu au courant de ma carrière. Wow, de ma première, (Steve Legler Jr., B.Com., Marketing Manager, Tri-Steel Industries Inc.) jusqu’à ma plus récente, (Steve Legler, MBA, CFA, FEA, Conseiller, PME Familiales), j’en ai probablement eu une douzaine, sinon plus.

Il y a plusieurs décisions à prendre quand vient le temps de se faire une carte professionelle, surtout pour les gens qui travaillent à leur compte. Si tu travailles pour une compagnie, tes options seront sûrement limitées aux versions “standards” de la compagnie. Mais pour un “solopreneur”, c’est illimité.

Cette fois-ci, étant donné qu’il s’agisssait d’une simple traduction, il y avait moins de décisions, puisque les choix du logo, du style, des titres, etc. avait déjà été fait quand j’avais fait faire mes “business cards”.

Mais même à ça, il y avait assez de complexité. Comment dire “facilitator” en français? J’ai opté pour “animateur”, mais j’aurais pu aller avec facilitateur aussi.

Même mon titre principal de “Family Business Advisor” n’était pas nécessairement évident. J’ai finalement décidé que Conseiller PME familiales était la meilleure façon de dire ce que je voulais dire.

Les cartes d’affaires sont peut-être moins importantes ces temps-ci, étant donné que nos communications sont surtout électroniques et qu’une fois que j’ai ton numéro de téléphone dans mon iPhone et ton adresse courriel dans mon Outlook, j’ai plus ou moins tout ce qu’il me faut pour te contacter. C’est rendu presque plus important d’avoir une bonne “signature” sur ses courriels.

Dans certains pays, notamment au Japon, le rituel d’échange de cartes d’affaires est pris très au sérieux. Si un japonais vous donne sa carte et tu le mets tout de suite dans ta poche sans l’avoir étudiée comme il faut, il parait que c’est l’équivalent de lui sacrer une claque sur la gueule.

J’ai récemment fait un échange de cartes avec plusieurs personnes en même temps, autour d’une table, et j’avais ramassé les 4-5 cartes et les ai mises dans ma poche sans trop regarder. Plus tard, en les regardant comme il faut, je me suis rendu compte qu’un des monsieurs m’avait donné la carte de son assistante par erreur.

Quand je l’ai rencontré le lendemain, je lui ai signalé ce “mélange des cartes” et il s’est excusé et m’a donné une de ses cartes personnelles. Mais c’est là que je lui ai expliqué que si nous étions au Japon, j’aurais assurément remarqué l’erreur immédiatement. À moins que j’aurais voulu lui donner une bonne claque, bien entendu.

Mais une carte d’affaires a le potentiel de laisser une bonne ou une mauvaise impression sur quelqu’un. Et puisque nous donnons souvent notre carte lors d’une des premières rencontres avec quelqu’un, il peut s’agir d’une bonne ou mauvaise première impression.

Si vous êtes comme moi, quand vous recevez une carte “cheap” et mal pensée, vous commencez parfois à avoir des sérieux doutes sur le professionalisme de la personne. Ça fait partie de notre “branding”, quand même.

Quand je vous donne ma carte d’affaires, je le fais avec fierté, parce qu’elle n’est pas “cheap”, et je sais qu’elle est bien pensée. Vous pourrez la mettre immédiatement dans votre poche si vous voulez, et je ne serai pas offusqué pour autant. Et je ne vous donnerai jamais la carte de mon assistante par erreur, parce que je n’ai pas d’assistante!