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Succession Planning in the Laundry Room

To begin, I must confess that I really hate the term “succession planning”, but in a title or headline, it is important to use words that are familiar to most people, otherwise they will likely miss your whole point.

I must also confess that the term “laundry room” was only used in the header here because it was a way to make my idea a bit catchier. The “real” title of this blog would more correctly be something like “How Succession Planning is Like Doing the Laundry”, but that doesn’t feel as sexy.

So how is succession planning like doing the laundry? I am glad you asked, but first, I told you that I detest the expression “succession planning”? Can we please just call it “Continuity Planning” instead?

Continuity planning is like “life insurance”, insofar as the insurance industry realized many years ago that selling “death insurance” (which is what it really is, after all) was not an easy thing to do, because people don’t want to talk about their ultimate demise.

So, without further ado (I think we have had enough “ado”, don’t you?), just how is Continuity Planning similar to doing the laundry? Let us count the ways.

To some people, and here I am picturing my Dad, as well as most fathers of his generation, the laundry room of our house was just a place that he passed through on the way into the garage. His job was to make sure that if the washer or dryer ever broke down, he was to pay to have them repaired or replaced.

The “doing the laundry” was never in the realm of the things that he worried about. As someone who was the beneficiary of having the laundry taken care of by my Mom and my grandmother who lived with us for many years, I am going to go out on a limb and guess that he never fully appreciated everything that went into the effort.

As someone who know lives in a house with my wife and two teens, and where we separate the household tasks more equally (give or take…) I can tell you that laundry is more than throwing the clothes in the washing machine and pressing “start”.

Nobody “wants” to do the laundry, but if the person who takes care of it is absent, it doesn’t take more than a few days before you start to notice that something is amiss. As people start to run out of clean clothes and the hampers are overflowing, someone eventually decides it is time to do something. And how hard can it be, right?

Put the clothes in the washer (what, you are supposed to separate them by colour first?), add some detergent, and press the button. OK, great, I’m glad that’s done. Oh, the washer is done. I guess now we move the wet stuff over to the dryer, right?

Now the dryer beeped, so we are finished. Oh, some of the stuff is still a bit damp, so I guess we press Start again. Alright, everything is dry now, but it is all mixed up, inside out, crumpled. This is a lot more work than I thought.

For people who are so busy taking care of business, there is a great potential to underestimate what goes into preparing the next generation of leaders and owners of their business.

Getting your accountant to do an “estate freeze” is putting the clothes in the washer and starting the machine.

The real work takes place before, and especially after. And it takes a long time, there are lots of steps, and it never seems to end.

The clothes need to be folded and hung up, and you need to make sure that the right clothes go back into the right rooms, the right closets, and the right drawers. Throwing the clothes in the machine and pressing the button was the easy part.

Maybe you should get going, before you run out of clean underwear.

 

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: 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.

Over-Parenting: Worse than Neglect?

My wife and I were recently discussing a child who plays on a sports team with one of our kids, and at one point I uttered a statement that actually stopped me in my tracks.

The child in question seems to be very immature for their age, especially when it comes to social interaction.

“Terry always acts like such a baby, more like a first grader than a “X”th grader”, my child would say. My wife’s point of view was that the kid’s parents are to blame for this situation.

Our discussion then turned to the fact that the child’s parents are divorced, and so both parents are likely “over-parenting” the kid, to the child’s detriment. That’s when I said,“the kid would be better off if the parents chose to neglect them instead”.

Whoa! Really? Did I just say that?

Did I mean what I said, and could I back it up? Well here is to trying to explain it, at the very least.

What I see with this child, and others in similar situations, is that their parents have always been there to do everything for them, and as a result, the children are incapable of having any kind of a normal relationship with others.

One of the other parents from the team is a second grade teacher, and she said that she witnesses this quite often. Parents are trying so hard to be good parents, and doing so much for their children to “help” them, that the kids soon become unable to do anything for themselves.

We can all probably name a few people that we know who are able to function well in everyday life, and who are what one would call “well adjusted” and self-aware.

We all know people who live more at the other end of the spectrum, people who cannot figure anything out for themselves, cannot make a decision without lots of external input, and go from one unsuccessful life experience to the next.

What do the people in the first group have in common, and what do the people in the second group have in common? What is different about the two groups?

To me, the first group exhibits a certain degree of confidence, independence, self-esteem, and interpersonal ability to get along in life.

The second group is easily flustered, lacks self-esteem, has difficulty in relationships, and is generally unhappy with their lot in life.

Could the parenting that they experienced in their childhood have anything to do with who ends up in which category? (That was a rhetorical question!)

It is very easy to get into the habit of doing things for our kids. This reminds me of times when my kids were much younger and they wanted to “help” me do something, and when pressed for time I would reply, “no thanks, I’ll do it myself” because doing it with their help would actually take longer.

But what about my comment that neglect would be better for the kid. Well, if I could only choose between the two extremes of neglect and severe over-parenting, it would be a tough choice, but neglect might just win out.

Fortunately, nobody needs to make such a stark choice for their children. The key, like with so many things, is balance.

If you let your kids fend for themselves a bit more, but remain there behind the scenes “just in case”, you are probably doing them a favour in the long run.

Learning to let go is not necessarily easy, but it can be learned. We have choices to make, and one of the first ones is to choose to detach ourselves and let our children off of the leash, to go and run around and get dirty and maybe even get hurt.

You will most likely die before your children do. The time to begin to ensure that they will be self-reliant is now.

 

I Just Sold My Business for $50 Million. Now What?

This kind of situation happens in real life, and it certainly causes people to be seen differently by others, but that is only the beginning of how their lives will change. Most people will be envious of anyone in this position, but that doesn’t mean that they have necessarily solved all of their problems either.

So what does change, and what problems are you now faced with if you are the person at the center of this?

I will focus my comments on a “plain vanilla” family business situation for simplicity’s sake, but keep in mind that things can be much more complicated these days, with complex family structures that sometimes seem to be the norm with reconstituted families.

Let’s look at just three aspects of the new reality this person would face in the months and years after the business sale: the money, the person, and the family. Let’s call the person “Pat” for the sake of gender neutrality.

The Money

So Pat was recently running a business worth $50 million, and was probably doing a pretty good job, seeing as a company that size doesn’t typically run by itself. Good job, Pat. In comparison, running a $50 million pile of cash should be a walk in the park, right?

Well maybe yes, but not necessarily. The company surely had lots of qualified people looking after different departments. Money is certainly more straightforward, but it doesn’t manage itself either.

Pat may be surprised by how many new “friends” show up with great opportunities to invest part of that money, as well as how many experts materialize all of a sudden, each insisting that they are the best person for Pat’s particular situation.

Take your time, Pat, there is no big rush. Yes, you probably want to get your capital working for you, but taking a few weeks or months to figure out just how you want to manage your wealth is highly recommended. If any potential advisor tries to rush you, that is likely a sign that they are more interested in how your wealth can help them, and not you.

The Person

So Pat, what do you want to do? Travel, play golf, great. But what else?

Is there enough there to keep you challenged? People who work for someone else are often satisfied to no longer have to work for some A-Hole boss after they retire, and they can often be found on the golf course.

But Pat, you built a company, and now you sold it. I sure hope you already have some ideas of what you want to do with your time, some kind of projects, to replace the “work” part of your life.

Take a break, recharge, yes, great. But then what? I hope you will try a few new things and keep going until you find something that keeps the drive alive. Or better yet, you can find a few different “somethings”. Hint: Try volunteering. Plenty of good causes need good help.

The Family

Now this could be the toughest one of all.

Assuming that you have children, some of whom may have worked in the business, things have now changed for them too. Depending on whether or not they saw this coming, whether or not they remain with the company for some period, and whether or not they have marketable skills to find a similar job elsewhere, this is not something to dismiss lightly.

Please take the opportunity to share your thoughts with each of your children, individually and together, on how this sale changes things for them too. An attitude of “well, that’s their problem” is not very helpful.

If you have spent most of your time focussing on the business at the expense of spending time being a parent, maybe you can start to make up for that now?

When I wrote “share your thoughts” with your family, I wasn’t talking about a one-time event here, but regular contact. Get to know them each a bit better, treat them fairly, be a good parent, and help each of them become the best person they can be. Now there is a worthwhile project.

 

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

The Long and the Short of It

Most people spend so much time looking at the short term, they end up ignoring the long term. I usually have the opposite problem.

That is often a good thing, though, if only because focussing on the future usually helps guide your shorter term decisions. Let’s look at some examples of this issue.

I am relatively new to the field of family business consulting, and anxious to learn as much as I can from those who have been at it for years. I recently came across the Purposeful Planning Institute, which is a group of like-minded people who help others with their planning (in a purposeful way!).

For the past couple of months I have been listening in on their weekly calls and I have realized that the majority of the speakers seem to be far ahead of where I am, which is not that surprising. But not only that, they also seem to be looking so much further into the future on behalf of their clients.

Maybe I notice this because my typical preferred client is just starting to look more at their family, rather than simply their business. I identify most easily with my own family and that of my in-laws, both of which were lead by founders who focussed a great deal on their businesses, possibly at the expense of their families, despite the best of intentions.

Looking at the long term has many advantages, but can you look too far ahead? Maybe yes, but I find that it is better to look ahead too often, and too far, than the reverse. So many people are so busy putting out day-to-day fires in their business, making the long-term view suffer.

A great example of the long versus short question came from an unexpected source recently. I was considering having laser eye surgery to correct a problem with my vision. I wear glasses for driving and going to sports events, as they help me see clearly at longer distances. I don’t need glasses for reading, although my arms seem to be getting a bit too short when dealing with very fine print.

The woman who tested my eyes suggested I delay any surgery for a few years. I was not too surprised, because my eyesight is generally better than most people’s my age, and I have been told in the past that I was not an ideal candidate for laser surgery.

But then she really explained it to me in a way that I could understand, which I really appreciated, because I pride myself in being able to clarify confusing things for others.

She told me that everyone has a certain range of vision over which they have the ability to focus clearly without glasses or contacts. For some it is on the far end, for others, it is up close. Here is where it got really interesting. If you have surgery to alter the range, in my case to improve my distance viewing, then you will also affect the other end, adversely.

The surgery just moves the range in one direction or the other, it doesn’t make the range any longer. You cannot extend the range, you can just move it closer or farther.

Getting back to my family business analogy, let me attempt to put it in the proverbial nutshell.

If you want to start looking at the long term, you actually MUST stop spending time on the short term. You CANNOT do it all.

You have to make a conscious shift in you thinking. And that is the long and the short of it.

 

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Leading Family Firms at IVEY

This week I attended a two-day program in London Ontario, at the fantastic Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre. The course was put on by the Ivey Business Families Centre, which is run by David Simpson.

David has been running the “Leading Family Firms” program for 6 years, bringing in families who are in business together, and getting them to learn about, and start talking about, some of the important issues that so often get too little attention.

We had an eclectic mix of people in the room, including a couple of brothers who are part of a third-generation company along with some of their cousins; two brothers-in-law who work along with two of their other brothers-in-law; as well as a Mom & Dad, & Son team.

In addition, we had a father with his recently graduated Ivey daughter, who does not work in Dad’s business, but who has been helping guide him in many ways thanks to her Ivey degree, as well as a handful of current Ivey students who come from family businesses to which they will likely eventually return.

I never get tired of hearing people’s stories about working with their families. There are always similarities to other situations, but then there are huge differences too. But because of this, there is always something we can learn from others in this field. Some is “what to do”, and some is “what NOT to do”.

Simpson started off the first day by congratulating everyone who was there. He clearly recognized that making the effort to take two full days away from your business is not a step that everyone is prepared to make, but that he was happy that they had all taken a couple of days to work ON their businesses (and their families!) instead of IN their businesses.

The course itself is based on the Roadmap course put together by the Business Families Foundation, which includes a series of videos about the ficticious Dupont family, and the trials and tribulations they face in running their hotel business. The videos are a bit dated and over-acted, but they do a great job of depicting situations that participants can identify with, and thus are wonderful conversation starters.

And conversations are the single biggest key to most of the issues that business families face. Actually, maybe I should say that conversations that have not happended are often the source of most of the problems that arise in family businesses.

While I was doing the Family Enterprise Advisor program this year, we used many of the same videos, and covered a lot of the same topics. One thing I can attest to is that the people who live in a business family are much faster at learning this stuff than most advisors.

Simpson told me beforehand that he accelerates the material when teaching families because a slower pace just isn’t needed. Having gone through it with him now, I get his point. But he gets it because he has been involved on all sides in family business with his own family and as a teacher in the Entrepreneurship program at Ivey.

On Friday afternoon as we were wrapping up, each person was asked to commit to one or two things that they were going to do in the coming months. There seemed to have been lots of progress made over two short days, as people were committing to some key steps that they were planning on taking very soon, which otherwise might have been left to “someday”.

All in all, it was an interesting, fun, and educational program, and I am certain everyone who was there found it worthwhile.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

How May I Sell You Today? #FAIL (1 of 2)

Today I want to talk about the debate between selling and helping.

There are some important distinctions that I will look at, mostly to help my own understanding of the subject as I wrestle with some of these questions in my mind.

For years one of my favourite speakers was Zig Ziglar, one of the most popular motivational speakers of his time. Ziglar passed away a few months ago, and a few of his fans started sharing some of their most memorable Zig quotes on Twitter.

The quote that struck me and stayed with me was this one: “Stop selling. Start helping.”

What I take out of this, is that if you forget about what you are trying to sell, and instead just focus on the client and how you can help them, then the selling will take care of itself.

My father used to make a similar point, in making the distinction between marketing and selling. “Marketing is solving the customer’s problem. Selling is reducing your inventory”. Thanks Dad.

But that was from the perspective of someone who spent his life solving customers’ problems by providing them (selling) a product. Can it still apply when you are providing a service?

And what if the service that you are providing is actually your help, i.e. your knowledge, experience, ability, time? Help!

As I was going through my recently completed Family Enterprise Advisor Program, we had a very interesting discussion on this subject.

You see, the program is aimed at professionals from a variety of fields, all of which deal with family business (or, as I preer to say, business families). But the variety, in addition to providing the spice of life, is also a source of confusion, especially as it applies to helping and selling, and getting paid to help.

I will just use my project group as an example. I was working with “Robert”, a CPA with an international firm, “Cathy”, a private banker from one of the big five Canadian banks, and “Gary”, a licensed insurance specialist with his own firm.

We worked together on a pro bono basis, on a project for a real business family. Although framed as an “academic exercise”, we treated it as real because it was real. The fact that we were all educated, experienced professionals, averaging around 50 years of age, also added to the seriousness.

But let’s bring this back to the selling vs helping question. If we had provided the exact same help to the family in a real life situation, how would we have been paid, or how would we be compensated for our help?

Robert, as a CPA with an accounting firm, would get paid for the hours he put in on behalf of the client, and most businesses have professional fees to pay for outside accounting services as a matter of course.

Cathy, working as a private banker, would not charge for her services per se, so the hours she put in are paid by her employer, the bank, who make a cut off the client’s wealth in other ways.

Gary, for his part, would get paid if and when the client purchased an insurance product from him.

So to summarize, every one of us would have been paid in a different fashion. But wait, I forgot someone. Me. Uh-oh. How is this gonna work?

The only this that I am actually selling is my help. And I am also going to need some help selling.

Next week, in part 2, we will get into a couple of other issues, like client resistance to people who are just trying to help.

See you then.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Philanthropy for All Ages in Business Families

Last week the TV series “Breaking Bad” wrapped up with its final episode, which featured one brief scene that most people probably did not really notice, but that struck me, as a family business advisor.

The show revolves around former high school chemistry teacher Walter White, who ends up becoming one of the biggest suppliers of illegal drugs in the southwestern US, thanks to his ability to “cook” very potent batches of crystal meth.

There are plenty of interesting twists in the plot over the 5 seasons of the show. The finale culminates in predictable fashion, with Walt becoming the subject of an international manhunt, set against his need to take care of some unfinished business before getting caught, succumbing to his cancer, or getting killed.

The show flew under the radar for its first few seasons, since it ran on AMC, a US cable network that could be considered HBO’s poor cousin. I learned about the show as its third season was winding down, thanks to my twitter timeline.

I follow a diverse crowd of people on my personal twitter account, covering sports, business, politics, and entertainment. On Sundays, I started to see tweets from a huge variety of people saying that they could not wait for tonight’s episode of Breaking Bad, or that they were closing down their computers so as not to be distracted during that evening’s show.

From those comments alone, I immediately ordered the DVDs of seasons 1,2, and 3.

I started watching the first season at the cottage, since I am the early bird in the family, and I could watch by myself before the others woke up. I should note that watching a violent show about illegal drugs is not something most people want to do as a family.

The show is addictive, kind of like crystal meth. Just kidding. Although one can assume that meth is also addictive, I am happy to say that I cannot speak from experience on this.

Sometimes my son would wake up early too, and join me in the living room, but I could not stop watching, so I kind of just hoped that he would not really catch on to what was happening on screen. That lasted about 5 minutes. Thankfully there was not a lot of foul language or nudity.

My parenting style is very open, in that just about anything that can be shared, is shared. The important part is that when it is shared, it is also explained. There are plenty of teaching moments in Breaking Bad, but you need to pause pretty often.

The Family Business angle that I mentioned earlier came when Walt went to see his wife one last time, and he started to repeat his old line about why he did everything he did. She interrupts him and says she can’t stand to hear him say it was for the kids.

Then Walt does something that too few famiy entrepreneurs ever do. He admitted that he did it for HIMSELF. He surprised me (pleasantly) by saying that he loved the power that he had, and that it made him feel good.

How many business people do you know that SAY they are doing it for their kids? How many of their kids would say, “What? He never asked me what I wanted”?

Walt brought his wife into the business, in order to launder all of the money he made, thanks to the success of his meth cooking. But Walter Junior did not learn of his real business until the end, and he was not exactly proud of his Dad.

My advice is to keep any family business on the right side of the law, but also to acknowledge for whom you are doing it. If it really IS for the kids, maybe you could ask for their input!

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.
What is good for your family business

Cooking Meth is NOT a Good Family Business

Last week the TV series “Breaking Bad” wrapped up with its final episode, which featured one brief scene that most people probably did not really notice, but that struck me, as a family business advisor.

The show revolves around former high school chemistry teacher Walter White, who ends up becoming one of the biggest suppliers of illegal drugs in the southwestern US, thanks to his ability to “cook” very potent batches of crystal meth.

There are plenty of interesting twists in the plot over the 5 seasons of the show. The finale culminates in predictable fashion, with Walt becoming the subject of an international manhunt, set against his need to take care of some unfinished business before getting caught, succumbing to his cancer, or getting killed.

The show flew under the radar for its first few seasons, since it ran on AMC, a US cable network that could be considered HBO’s poor cousin. I learned about the show as its third season was winding down, thanks to my twitter timeline.

I follow a diverse crowd of people on my personal twitter account, covering sports, business, politics, and entertainment. On Sundays, I started to see tweets from a huge variety of people saying that they could not wait for tonight’s episode of Breaking Bad, or that they were closing down their computers so as not to be distracted during that evening’s show.

From those comments alone, I immediately ordered the DVDs of seasons 1,2, and 3.

I started watching the first season at the cottage, since I am the early bird in the family, and I could watch by myself before the others woke up. I should note that watching a violent show about illegal drugs is not something most people want to do as a family.

The show is addictive, kind of like crystal meth. Just kidding. Although one can assume that meth is also addictive, I am happy to say that I cannot speak from experience on this.

Sometimes my son would wake up early too, and join me in the living room, but I could not stop watching, so I kind of just hoped that he would not really catch on to what was happening on screen. That lasted about 5 minutes. Thankfully there was not a lot of foul language or nudity.

My parenting style is very open, in that just about anything that can be shared, is shared. The important part is that when it is shared, it is also explained. There are plenty of teaching moments in Breaking Bad, but you need to pause pretty often.

The Family Business angle that I mentioned earlier came when Walt went to see his wife one last time, and he started to repeat his old line about why he did everything he did. She interrupts him and says she can’t stand to hear him say it was for the kids.

Then Walt does something that too few famiy entrepreneurs ever do. He admitted that he did it for HIMSELF. He surprised me (pleasantly) by saying that he loved the power that he had, and that it made him feel good.

How many business people do you know that SAY they are doing it for their kids? How many of their kids would say, “What? He never asked me what I wanted”?

Walt brought his wife into the business, in order to launder all of the money he made, thanks to the success of his meth cooking. But Walter Junior did not learn of his real business until the end, and he was not exactly proud of his Dad.

My advice is to keep any family business on the right side of the law, but also to acknowledge for whom you are doing it. If it really IS for the kids, maybe you could ask for their input!

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.