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How Do I Get People Focused on a Model of Excellence?

If you want people to focus, you have to give a clear picture of what you want to have happen. Business is a funny animal. Sometimes we start out building a racehorse, and we wind up with a camel that can be more stubborn than a mule. All three are useful; all have their place; and all can get you where you want to go. But the ride’s ease and comfort in getting there will be different. 

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The Pope and the Catholic Church: A Succession Planning Case Study

 As I embark on my first article as a member of The Rawls Group, I figured I might as well throw myself into the deep end and entertain a topic that is undoubtedly surrounded by controversy: religion. The recent changes occurring in the leadership of the Catholic Church have not only fascinated me, but have also led me to ponder how such a significant change to this steadfast organization will affect the group as a whole. And I am not simply talking about those directly involved in the selection of the next leader of the Catholic Church; I’m also referring to the millions of citizens around the world that look to the Pope for guidance, purpose and support. 

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Succession Planning - Art and Passion

His ball was moving right and settled in the grass about ten feet away. As the leader of the senior tournament approached, I moved close to watch an amazingly small, relatively elderly, scrawny yet pot bellied gentleman size up his next shot, consult with his caddie and select his club. He briefly simulated his desired swing, appraised the challenge and nodded to his caddie to confirm their planned ball flight over a distant tree. Without apparent concern he addressed the ball, confidently drew back his five iron in a long, fluid swing and effortlessly launched the ball in an amazing high, left to right trajectory towards the green. "Oh my Lord, can you believe how he compresses that ball to a fade? The acceleration of that ball off of his club took my breath away. And the ball cleared the tree and landed on the green like a butterfly. I'm twenty years younger, outweigh him 75 pounds and there is no way I could ever pull of that shot!"

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How Financial Independence Can Impact Succession and Growth Goals

We live in the greatest country in the world! As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I thought it would be an appropriate time to reflect upon how fortunate we are to be Americans. Each day when we wake up, we have the freedom to choose how we will invest our time, talents and treasure. Thanks to God and our fellow Americans who have gone before us and who have made the ultimate sacrifice to provide us this luxury, we have the ability to make choices each day.  Some of us choose to invest our time, talent and treasures pursuing the American Dream by working for others while some of us choose to build businesses to provide opportunities for others and in an effort to achieve financial freedom and independence. Achieving financial freedom and independence is a challenging endeavor that requires focus, commitment and discipline.

What is financial freedom? Financial freedom implies that one has enough income to maintain their standard of living and therefore has the ability to pursue other interests outside of employment.  Financial freedom in the context of business succession means accumulating enough liquid resources independent of the business whereby you are not financially dependent upon the business to maintain your standard of living.  As a business owner in a family business setting, why is attaining financial freedom so important?

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When Sybil Shows Up At Meetings - How to Deal With Emotions that Impact the Succession Planning Process

In some of my recent client meetings, I’ve felt as though some of my clients that have shown up were completely different people compared to my previous interactions while working through their succession planning issues. When I called one of my clients out on this “difference” recently, it was her remark that “Sybil had shown up,” calling to mind the movie depicting a character suffering from a multiple personality disorder. Not meaning to make light of a true multiple personality issue, I’ve been using the analogy ever since, applying it to the dynamic process that I’ve learned succession planning can be.

So, how can an advisor work effectively with the dynamics of succession planning? First and foremost, we all need to remind ourselves that we’re dealing with people and people are, fundamentally, emotional. Therefore, we are dealing with emotions. Further, we need to understand that those emotions are playing out in the relationships of the people involved in and impacted by succession planning.

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Keys for Resolving Conflict in the Family Business

Recently one of my partners and I were facilitating a meeting between a father and his daughter to work through some mismatched expectations between them in the family business. We had already had several prep meetings laying the ground-work for aligning their expectations, which were all positive and headed in the right direction. They were both excited that we were going to be able to help them get some things out on the table as they typically would avoid one another and leave issues unresolved.

However, once the meeting started, the dad took the opportunity to unleash on his daughter with unanswerable questions and acted like a prosecuting attorney trying to corner the defendant into a guilty plea. My partner and I were completely unprepared for this, and of course, the daughter was equally caught off guard. When I gained my composure and realized what was going on, I interrupted the dad by checking in with daughter saying, “if I were you, I’d feel like I’m on trial right now.” She broke down into tears acknowledging that I was spot on with her emotional reaction. Fortunately, this led the way to salvaging the meeting and beginning the process of working through their differences. Later, we apologized to her for not seeing that coming and for not protecting her from her dad’s onslaught quicker.

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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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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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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: 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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Family Dynamics and Business Performance - How Closely Are They Related?

In my previous two posts, "How to Find Balance Between Family and Business"  and "How to Achieve Balance Between the Family and the Business," I discussed two of the three steps great and enduring families engage in:

  1. They establish balance between family and business priorities.

  2. They work hard to convey this balance to and through the next generation.

  3. They pursue Succession Success.

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5 Problems and Solutions in Estate Planning Trusts

Estate planning is an integral part of business succession planning. I am commonly asked what are the most common problems encountered in estate planning trusts.  There are so many problems with trust administration it is difficult to find a place to start or where to stop.  For lack of a better plan, let’s consider what I have found to be the top five trust administration problems:

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Vision, Conflict and Business

A clear, concise, well communicated, self-affirming vision is a critical component to the creation of an unstoppable family business succession plan.  However, just establishing a vision in this complicated world is not enough because in the business succession realm, this vision involves teamwork. Unfortunately those whom we endear, those whom we love, those whom we depend upon to continue our businesses and those who depend upon us for their careers can complicate our circumstances and the achievement of a succession vision that on a good day has many moving parts and on a bad day can appear mind boggling. In the midst of complications with family, key managers, lenders and vendors succession can become such a hassle that a business owner may want to isolate himself. Unfortunately this isolation is completely counter productive to the achievement of a vision that requires a team effort. Within the realm of business succession planning, the vast majority of these succession problems are cause by vision conflict. Allow me to explain this frustrating predicament and the remedy.

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What's the First Step in Succession Planning?

Succession planning can be an overwhelming thought. There is so much to be done. “I don’t even know what I don’t know.” There are so many potential issues. There are so many opinions. There are so many places where things can go wrong.

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