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Atlanta Succession Planning

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Atlanta, Georgia

       850.294.3042 (T)
       407.578.4480 (F)

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T. Jeffrey Faulkner, M.S

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Jeff’s private practice in the counseling industry allowed him to gain specialized experience in working with families in crisis and achieving mutually satisfactory resolution of significant family dynamic issues.

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David Weaver, CEC

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David's career spans over 30 years as a successful business executive, where he specialized in the launch and growth of independent startups and new business units across multiple industries. In these roles, he worked with CEOs and executive management to achieve aggressive growth goals and prepare their organizations for eventual sale.

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What $180,000 Will and Won't Buy You - Evaluating Family Successors

This past week I was with an auto dealer client, and we spent some time evaluating the progress of one of his children in the family business. It quickly became apparent that this heir doesn’t know his way to the bottom line of the financial statement. In the car business, razor thin profit margins are the norm. In fact, in a well-run store, for every one dollar that comes in, only about three cents finds its way to the bottom line. That’s a remarkable statistic, but even in other industries where the margins are higher, a deep understanding of how much makes its way to the bottom line should be drilled into the heads of all employees, especially family members seeking to take over someday.

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8 Seconds After the Boss Is Gone, I'm Gone - Keys for Building Respect Between Your Successor and Key Managers

Over the course of the last decade in working with family-owned companies, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard horror stories of family successors driving their family’s business into the ground. Often times, it is our clients’ fear of this happening in their own businesses that motivates them to hire us in the hopes that we can help prevent this tragedy. In spite of situations that I  have been involved in where, after some time, I begin to share the business owner’s concerns, I maintain hope that I can be helpful in creating solutions to avoid this disastrous downfall.

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Evaluating Successors - Have You Communicated Clear and Reasonable Expectations

In fairness to the up-and-coming successor candidates in family businesses, it should be mentioned that often times the evaluation of them is not altogether objective or even reasonable. Family member employees live in a fishbowl where nothing they do is seemingly ever good enough. The good stuff they do is seen simply as par for the course. And frankly, that’s often because no one in the organization gets a lot of affirmation for their incredibly hard work, so why should the “heir apparent.”  On a side note, that’s a sad commentary on many businesses across our fruited plains in and of itself. And the errors successor candidates make often become mountains made out of molehills.

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Employee Appreciation-Motivation - Unexpressed Gratitude Communicates Ingratitude

At the risk of sounding like I’m contradicting my first two posts, I don’t believe that the business owners, their children, and their employees who all benefit from one another’s contribution are completely ungrateful..  I do believe they suffer from the same thing I suffer from, and perhaps that you suffer from; they are thankful, but just haven’t expressed it. Maybe they are unsure how or they have communicated to everybody their gratification, except for the person that made the contribution.

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Effective Leadership - How to Express Gratitude and Impact Lives

In my first post on this topic I discussed a dangerous trap that many business owners fall into of “ungratefulness.” As the business owner, you were likely the holder of the big idea, capital, cutting edge strategy, or great leadership skills, however; no matter the great skill you may possess, your empire was most likely built by a team of people who bought into your mission. 

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You Didn't Get Where You Are By Yourself - The Importance of Employee Appreciation

One of the ugliest words in the English language is “ungrateful.” Nobody wants to be ungrateful. 2010 was a particularly busy year for succession planning. Many business owners capitalized on the opportunity to transfer assets to their children at deep discounts due to de-valuations and low interest rates in this struggling economy.  Subsequently, I have had the opportunity to  coach people in expressing gratitude.

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Using a Revocable Trust for the Sake of Asset Continuity

One of the most powerful truths I have learned in working with family owned businesses, is that the world of entrepreneurialism moves at a very rapid pace. I have not worked as an employee of a company for 20 years, but my recollection is that being an employee was a more forgiving place, at times with little sense of urgency. Those workers with an “employee mind-set” were more concerned with making sure they got their ½ hour lunch breaks, 15 minute breaks every 4 hours, and punching the clock right on time. The world of entrepreneurs doesn’t work that way. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There’s a reason entrepreneurs are referred to as “movers and shakers.”  They eat, sleep, and breathe their business.

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Why Use a Revocable Trust

In my travels around the country working with family owned companies, I am always amazed at the significant and very public role these entrepreneurs play in their communities. Because of this we often recommend the use of revocable living trusts as a part of their succession planning environment. I’m also frequently amazed at the pushback on this powerful planning tool that we get from local attorneys. In one recent situation, our client’s attorney told our client that we did not understand this particular state’s laws and that probate in this state is not a big deal.

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Revocable Trust - It's Now or Later

Having heard, on multiple occasions, from local attorneys that probate is not a big deal, and knowing from experience that, indeed, probate is a big, fat, hairy, expensive, time intensive, insensitive, and emotionally challenging deal, I have asked these attorneys to share with me, from their perspective, just one compelling reason to not use a revocable trust.  Here are the two most common responses I have received:

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Changing Culture by Creating It

As I've said in the previous two posts, the Arizona immigration law is highlighting the obsession our country has with our perceived civil rights with little to no acknowledgement of our responsibilities.  Even to the point of extending these civil rights to individuals who are not legal citizens of our country. No matter where you stand, it’s a very interesting dilemma without an easy solution, because our country is the great American melting pot.

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Likability or Accountability - Do You Have the Right People Driving Your Organization?

In my last two posts, Likability or Accountability: Leadership and The Right People- I discussed the idea that there are several businesses I’m currently working with that are performing and several that are not. The difference between the two is that they either have a culture of likability or a culture of accountability.  The immediate differences between the two suggested differences in leadership, people, and focus on results.

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Successor Development: You've Selected Your Successor, Now What?

Now that you have successfully selected your successor, what do you do? If you’re developing a family member successor, the most important thing is to have them go work somewhere else before entering the family business. Learning how to be an employee in a place where your last name means nothing is very valuable.

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Successor Development: 5 Key Indicators for Evaluating a Successor

Once there are available successor candidates, business owners should take a less instinctive approach to selecting a successor from the candidates by evaluating some key traits. We refer to these traits as the 5 Cs: Character, Confidence, Capability, Competence, and Community.

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Successor Development: There Has to Be One Available

Business owners frequently select their successors with an intuitive approach, or based on experience-informed “gut” feel. Most of the time they’re pretty good at it, but when it comes to evaluating a successor for a family business, the family relationship dynamic inevitably clouds a business owners evaluation. There are emotional entanglements that get in the way of their well-grounded intuition. So to help business owners be less instinctive and more intentional and consciously competent in selecting a successor, there are some key indicators to look for in identifying a successor for your business.

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Wipe Out Enablement Attitudes - Rights Versus Responsibilities

No matter where you stand on the immigration law, one thing is painstakingly clear. Our country is obsessed with protecting everyone’s rights with little to no concern for their responsibilities. Somehow we seem to suffer from affluence guilt that leads us to feel it is our responsibility to take care of everyone on the planet, and perhaps more accurately, that everyone on the planet has a right to be cared for by the U.S. 

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How to Break the Power of Addiction

In my last post, I discussed the cycle of addiction, which is a common issue I see in working with families and businesses. As a reminder, the cycle consists of several parts: some negative emotion, triggers, rituals, acting out, and back to the negative emotion.

To start breaking the power of addiction you must identify the various aspects of your addictive behavior as it relates to the cycle above. A good way to approach this is to start with the seemingly trite statement I made in my last post that “the only way to break the power of the addiction is to stop engaging in the behavior.”

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Understanding the Cycle of Addiction

Do you have any bad habits? If your immediate response was no, then you might consider that you have a bad habit of lying. The truth is we all have bad habits and sometimes those habits can turn into addictions. In my work with family businesses I frequently interact with people who are addicted to something. Sometimes it’s a functional addiction and sometimes destructive.

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Successor Development - How Good is Good Enough?

I was recently in a meeting with a son of a business owner, who was the identified 3rd generation successor leader to his family’s business. We were talking about some communication challenges he was having with his dad. His dad is a larger than life kind of guy, one whose shoes are hard to fill.  So, I asked, “What seems to be causing the difficulties?”

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Why You Should Stay Engaged, Even After You Exited the Business

I was recently in a meeting with a father and his three sons working on developing some reasonable expectations between them. Dad was in the process of transferring stock in the family business to his boys. Being that partners are much different than father/son or boss/employee, they needed to clearly define their expectations.  I started out with what I thought was a relatively benign question of the eldest son – “What do you like most about working with your dad?”  His answer led us down a path of discussion that I could not have orchestrated if I were a magician.

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Dream for Success - How to Turn Your Dreams Into Successes

In my last post, I told you that I have a unique advantage of working with the leaders of America. I also have the unique opportunity of working with their successors. One of the hardest things to do in this environment is convey the years of experience and the intuitive business sense of a current leader to the next generation.  So, I try to learn from these leaders to determine what it is that they have that can help the younger generation bridge the gap of inexperience. The first essential for success that I shared in the first post is that they take personal responsibility.

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