The numbers don’t lie: it looks like COVID-19 is here for the holidays. We all hoped it wouldn’t last this long, but the unfortunate reality is that in order to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe this year, the holidays will probably look much different than usual. We likely won’t be able to have 20 people crowding the dining room for a special ham dinner, or have the full extended family gathered around the Christmas tree. And for business families, limited hours and even outright closures can mean that we don’t even get to see our families during the workday as much as we otherwise would.
Legal, financial, business, and psychological advisors are all called upon to understand and help with the challenges facing a family moving through generations with a family business, or other forms of shared assets, family offices, trusts, family foundations, and other non-profit organizations. To succeed as a business and as a family, such families need special help to understand and work effectively. While each professional discipline works in its own way, an advisor must understand the broad nature of this complex family/business/financial enterprise, and work with some special challenges arising from the combination of family and business systems and the difference between a family and a business. Many advisors find they cannot be helpful, or that their suggestions fall flat to the consequences of family dynamics that undermine their work.
There’s an undeniable emotional appeal to the idea of a multi-generational business. For many people, even just hearing the phrase “family business” implies parents, children, and even grandchildren working together, with younger generations taking over control of the business and continuing its success after the founders retire, die, or otherwise pass the torch. While this business setup can be beautiful and intensely meaningful, it can also be dangerous if assumed as a default and not given proper, intentional consideration.
It’s been two years since we last wrote about the concept of defining and leaving your legacy. With so many independent and family run businesses undergoing significant changes, restructurings, or even closings during this economic crisis, it seems important to revisit this idea, which is one of the most vital and personal lessons all entrepreneurs must learn as they age and begin thinking about retirement. Coming to terms with your life as you’ve lived it and how it relates to your identity, your business, your personal values, and even your personal belongings is no small feat, and it’s impossible to even begin quantifying how many people have retired and even passed on without feeling comfortable with the legacy they left behind. Fortunately for entrepreneurs and those who run family businesses, Tom Hubler has put together his own model for how to map out the legacy you want to share with your family and with the world.
Hubler’s Legacy Model™:
Tom Hubler says he has “come to look at Legacy as your gift to the future to help others find their own success.” In other words, if you feel you’ve lived a life well-lived, your legacy is the roadmap that others can use to discover their own lives worth living. Hubler’s Legacy Model™ is made up of five different areas and aspects of life--both financial and non-financial--that should be considered when defining the legacy you want to pass on as a business owner and entrepreneur. The five areas are as follows, in no particular order (as they all interrelate):
According to Tom Hubler in his book The Soul of the Family Business, “Fine-tuning a legacy system requires implementing all five aspects of the model. It’s important to capture stories that relate to family and history, and to consciously voice life and family values.” For a lot of us, these aspects of our legacies are things we understand intuitively--but the difficulty comes in bringing them to the forefront and considering them with mindfulness and intentionality. Doing so enables us to truly build and define our legacies, rather than leave them as nebulous hopes and dreams.
For stories of successful legacy planning, pick up The Soul of the Family Business by Tom Hubler. Through personal anecdotes, real-world case studies, useful tools and frameworks, and more, Hubler offers an in-depth look at how entrepreneurs can leave a lasting impact on the world around them. You can pick up The Soul of the Family Business, available in hardcover form on Amazon.com, directly through Itasca Books, or at a bookstore near you. And of course, if you’re ready to take the next steps, you can always contact Hubler for Business Families today.
We’ve covered at-length the difficulties that come with succession planning: how to navigate retirement, how to responsibly pick and support new ownership, how business families can create succession plans that feel fair and just to the entire family, and much more. But as hard as all that is, intellectual property issues can often be the real wrench that brings succession planning to a grinding halt faster than anything else.
In watching all the news this past week, I can’t believe how hard I’ve been hit emotionally by the events of George Floyd’s death. I’ve been brought to tears on multiple occasions as I’ve discussed my response with family and friends. The emotional pain of the Black community is devastating and palpable. What’s shocking is the racism that’s being protested has been there for years, and for the most part, nothing has been done about it. In my own family, my children who are Black (now adults) and grandchildren have been hurt by this racism and hatred.
As Nelson Mandela says:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
In this time of trial, may the peace of the Lord fill our hearts with love. May the solace that’s created give us all the courage, each in our own way, to act, speak out and eradicate systemic racism from our culture.
Our community is slowly but surely coming to terms with the new reality of life under quarantine, and with shelter-in-place orders (here in Minnesota, at least) extending to the beginning of May at the very earliest, we’ll only need to continue to adapt, compensate, and adjust. While many businesses are unfortunately completely closed and many workers furloughed (or worse), a lot of us are continuing to work, just from home. Work-from-home can require a lot of acclimation, and it can be especially impactful for family businesses. Business families have to put significant work into maintaining proper work/home boundaries under the best of circumstances, and with those two settings being pressed together even further, tensions can rise quickly and problems can easily bubble to the surface.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m emotionally raw when it comes to dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 Virus. Each evening when I watch the Evening News, I see first responders and family members who are suffering from losses of one kind or another involving loved ones. At the same time, there are these wonderful stories of courageous people who are continuing to do their jobs on a daily basis without protective gear, like the bus driver who risks his health to continue to drive the bus to take people to the hospital. There was one particular story that really touched me. A hospital employee who was caring for patients had now contracted the virus and was now at the point of having to be ventilated. The hospital employee who was attending to him said to him before he was about to insert the ventilator: “I love you Ray” and Ray responded: “I love you too.” I was really taken with this exchange, but the emotional swings are for me what is so heart wrenching.
I was watching “60 Minutes” last night and I was overwhelmed by the sorrow, grief, and stress of the healthcare workers in New York and by the many families who lost loved ones to the COVID-19 Virus. In addition, I was talking to one of my friends who runs a mission in Guatemala and he says that things are even more dire there.
While it’s not possible for me to go to New York or Guatemala, I can promote kindness and generosity in my sphere of influence here in the Twin Cities with family, friends, and colleagues, and so can you.
Just yesterday I participated in a Zoom Conference on Resilience and I was reminded of the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who wrote a book by the same title. He took the title to describe his stress reduction and resiliency program at U. Mass Hospitals. His program teaches people to embrace their pain as a means to create resiliency in their lives. The title comes from the movie or book Zorba the Greek.
Normally we use this space to try and offer advice and lessons to business families or those who work in family businesses. But with our current public health crisis and subsequent social distancing, quarantining, and shut-downs, we’d like to take this opportunity to discuss how this affects family businesses--most of which are smaller, local, and/or independently run--and what you can do to support them during this difficult time and difficult situation.
With all of the uncertainties and confusion of Covid-19 Virus, we are all clamoring, in one way or another, to get back to “normal” and create certainty in our lives. The pundits, politicians, and physicians are all offering advice on what to do. They say: “social distance, wash your hands, stay at home and stay safe.” The people on the front lines, in all aspects of our culture, are giving courageously and generously to perform daily miracles to save our lives and many times at the risk of their own.
"Put your soul in it, have passion. The depth of the family business.
Review by Luca, Italy on Amazon.
Originally posted by Conservis (farm management software system).
Families are complicated. Farming is complicated. Family businesses are complicated. So family farm businesses? One might say they’re the most complicated.
Tom Hubler is a well-known expert in family businesses: he's appeared on television and has been quoted in places like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He lives in St. Paul, MN, and we were fortunate to have him present at our 2020 Customer Summit.
Welcome to 2020! To celebrate the new decade, we’re pulling a meaty tidbit straight out of the heart of The Soul of the Family Business by Tom Hubler and learning Hubler’s five secrets of highly successful family-owned businesses. While obviously these are not the be-all-end-all of success (these tips occupy merely a few pages of a lengthy and insightful book), they are fundamental lessons that can be taken alongside more detailed explanations and strategies found within the rest of the book and this website. For more information, consider picking up The Soul of the Family Business, but without further adieu, here are five secrets of highly successful family-owned businesses:
Tom recently presented Creating A Common Vision for a Family Enterprise at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, NV. To listen to the audio session, please click play below.
For the accompanying slides, click here.
While we’ve covered many topics this year, most pulled straight from Tom Hubler’s book, The Soul of Family Business, none have been covered with as much depth and time as trust, betrayal, and forgiveness. Because these topics are all so interconnected, for the end of 2019, we’ve pulled them all together in one place so you can reference them at-a-glance or send an easy roadmap to those in need of guidance. (Of course, for the truly comprehensive collection of all this advice, you can simply purchase The Soul of Family Business as a gift for others or even yourself.)
The Last Challenge of Entrepreneurship
We’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately discussing some of the stickier elements of family dynamics and family businesses, and while that’s crucially important to discuss, constant talks of betrayal, forgiveness rituals, trust, and more can be emotionally draining. So as we approach the holiday season, we thought it would be a good idea to offer up a quick reminder of the importance of simple family rituals that let us put business aside and come together to reaffirm our love for one another.
To enjoy the holidays, leave the family business at work.
The music of the holiday season fills our lives. Images of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and family gatherings around the hearth dance through our heads like sugarplum fairies - or at least that is the popular mythology we think about for the holidays.
But for members of family-owned businesses, the holidays can be a very different story.
“What is forgiveness?” Yes, this sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? Many of us would immediately respond, “jeez, the answer is so obvious,” but before you write off the question, really think about it. Is it as obvious as it seems, or is forgiveness a concept that is more than a bit tricky to put into words? For our purposes, we like Dr. Frederic Luskin’s definition from his book Forgive for Good.
Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell. Forgiveness is the experience of peacefulness in the present moment. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it changes the present. Forgiveness means that even though you are wounded, you choose to hurt and suffer less. Forgiveness means you become part of the solution. Forgiveness is the understanding that hurt is a normal part of life. Forgiveness is for you and for no one else. You can forgive and rejoin a relationship, or forgive and never speak to the person again.
Thank you to Nancy Meyer with WeMentor for inviting me to discuss family business ownership, building a family legacy, the Top 10 Obstacles in Succession Planning, and of course, The Soul of Family Business on her "WeMentor Mondays with Nancy" podcast.
I am honored to have been featured in two episodes of WeMentor Mondays and hope our discussions help the family business owners or members who listen.
“Forgiveness can seed a new beginning in our relationship with a betrayer. Forgiveness allows us to understand that “to be wrong is nothing, unless you remember it,” as was so wisely stated by Confucius. Forgiveness helps clean the slate for you and others. Because family members love one another, forgiveness is essential so that relationships can be renewed after a betrayal.” –Tom Hubler, The Soul of the Family Business
Last week we broached the sticky subject of betrayal within family businesses. We covered how the overlapping circles, interconnected responsibilities, and sometimes unclear expectations that come with working alongside family can make family businesses a landmine of potential betrayal, both intention and accidental. But while the best medicine for betrayal is avoiding it in the first place, today we’ll discuss how to overcome betrayal once it’s already happened, which means jumping into the process of forgiveness and Family Forgiveness Rituals™.
The Soul of Family Business by Tom Hubler is being promoted in Brazil's Revista Empreendedor.
Founded in 1994, Revista Empreendedor is based in Florianópolis, Brazil. The business magazine aims to promote entrepreneurship and to support Brazilian entrepreneurs by presenting business opportunities and best management practices for innovation and sustainability.
Next to death, few tragedies we encounter are as deeply and personally painful as a betrayal by someone you love and care about. Maliciously undermining the presumption of trust can cause huge emotional and psychological damage, and when it occurs within a business (and especially a family-run business), this damage can even ruin otherwise successful enterprises. It’s no wonder that Tom Hubler ranks betrayal as “a top destroyer of otherwise-successful family businesses.”
Take this risk-free first step in ensuring the continued success of your family business now. There is no charge for the orientation meeting other than out-of-pocket expenses for travel.
Does your family business need help with succession planning, conflict resolution, management or other issues? If so, we'll arrange a one-on-one orientation meeting with you and Tom Hubler to help you explore the possibilities of working with us. If you choose, your family and business associates can also attend. Here, in a relaxed environment, you can talk about:
Hubler for Business Families helps family businesses manage the boundary between their business/financial concerns and family relationships.
Hubler for Business Families and Platinum Group are merging to meet the unique challenges of family owned businesses.
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