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Exit Strategy and the Joe-Pa Syndrome

There is a lot at stake in succession planning: family legacies, business value, financial security, and family harmony.  The goal of succession planning is to create a seamless transition of ownership, leadership and management while avoiding the classic “new leader” shock and awe that diverts mission focus, erodes management enthusiasm and dissipates organizational momentum.  

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Successor Identification - Create A Program for Testing Them Out!

Shel Silverstein writes children’s books.  In one called The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, he covers the role of succession development with a simplicity and singleness of purpose.  For our purposes, the Big O is access to the legendary corner office; and the missing piece is the person who sits in that office after you are finished with it.

But, before there can be successor development, there must be a successor identification program in place.  That successor could be a family member, a key manager, or a partner.  Regardless of which, the person chosen must also be a leader.

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8 Must Haves In an Executive Coach

Performance coaching produces results that many organizations find wanting in the traditional performance management and appraisal culture.  The major difference is that coaching occurs in real time; and performance appraisal is retrospective and occurs – usually – well after the fact.  The practical impact is that coaching is appreciated and performance appraisal is resented.

Theoretically, every manager/leader should also be a coach to direct reports.  Maybe, someday, that will happen.  Imagine the impact on the organization from a personal and professional development standpoint if managers understood how to be an effective coach.

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Effective Leadership - What You Don't Know, Could Kill You

To borrow from Thomas Jefferson, each of us holds many truths to be self-evident.  Most of those go beyond the scope of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  He and his colleagues built a republic around that relatively simple concept.  Every two years, we subject ourselves to an election process that, as many elected officials like to point out, has consequences about future choices and decisions regarding our collective welfare on local, state, and national levels.

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When Tax Laws Change, Estate Plans Need Review

I sat down with a long-term client earlier this week and was reminded once again of the importance of regularly reviewing your estate and succession planning. This client is the majority owner of a family owned company and has his children involved in leadership roles. He is in his second marriage to a woman who is not his children’s mother.

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Change In Heart, Leads to Change in Plans - Is Your Succession Planning Strategy In Alignment?

Another situation I dealt with recently during an annual review of planning involved what I refer to as a “five minute bomb.”  Five minutes before the end of the meeting with a client, when I’m preparing to leave and go home, he says to me “oh, there’s something else I forgot to tell you” and it is inevitably an intense subject that requires much more than five minutes to handle.

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Family and Business - Maintaining a Healthy Balance

When I think of the word balance, one of the images that come to mind is a gymnast carefully and bravely performing on the balance beam. As a sports enthusiast and competitive person, occasionally when I am channel surfing (which my wife loves), I come across a gymnastics competition and find myself captivated by the athletes and their level of focus, commitment and talent. Although I have never been a gymnast, it is apparent that becoming a successful gymnast and performing well on the balance beam requires an incredible amount of mental and physical preparation. Naturally, it also requires the athlete to have great balance. Like gymnastics, owning and working in a family business requires a tremendous amount of dedication and effort in order to achieve a healthy balance between family and business.

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Do You have a "Control Freak" Culture - Can Your Business Survive In the Future?

Every day as I interact as a succession planner with family-owned businesses, I encounter control freaks. Unfortunately, control freaks do not want to be known as such and try to disguise their attitude and management style. Therefore, as I assess what is going on relative to the family and the business, I look for signs that help me understand how the family and business works. By doing so, any control freaks are almost always revealed. In this process, it is important that I be sensitive to these signs because a control freak generally handicaps, or even curses, a succession planning initiative.

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The Control Freak Culture and It's Impact on Successor Development

As I expressed in my previous post, the deployment of a succession plan should address the organizational and family issues that can impact the continued success of the business through the next generation of owners and managers.  Assuming a control freak has been at the helm, activities would include assessing the impact of the control freak and development of plans and processes that can discontinue the inherent handicaps to the continuation of success.

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How to Overcome the Curses of a "Control Freak" Culture

A thorough succession plan addresses the organizational and family issues that can impact the continued success of the business through the next generation of owners and managers.  A control freak at the helm significantly complicates two components of the Succession Matrix: successor identification and development and management teamwork and synergy. Notably, the control freak represents a barrier to the development of successors and supporting managers who have the confidence and competence to operate the business when the control freak inevitably loses his/her physical or mental ability to drive the business.

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Please! What Is Succession Planning and Why Do I Need to Involve Outsiders?

The process of succession planning is significantly different for a privately-held and/or family owned business compared to a publicly held company.  For our purposes today, we’ll be dealing with the privately held because most businesses fall into that category.

Depending upon your advisor’s field of expertise, the definition of succession planning takes on a variety of meanings.  For some, succession planning is all about wills, buy/sell agreements, trusts, and estate planning.  For others, it’s about business performance and for another set of advisors, it’s all about family harmony.

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If I am Considering Sale of My Business As My Succession Option, What Should I Be Aware Of?

There are two general classes of buyers for a business: internal and external. Internal buyers would be one or more key managers who could provide succession leadership. External buyers would be third parties including of course complementary vendors. 

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Business Succession and Long Term Care

Personal financial planning is a critical component of business succession planning. The general subject of personal financial planning is broken down into four components:  wealth development and financial independence, estate planning, credit continuity and exit strategy. Within the topic of wealth development and financial independence is sufficient personal income to facilitate independence from the continued success of the business. The presumption is that if you are dependent upon the business you will logically never release management control.  Consequently, you will never be able to genuinely determine if successor management is prepared to assume the responsibility of ongoing leadership and management. 

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Long Term Care and a Living Trust

As I discussed in my previous post, “Business Succession and Long Term Care,” the financial independence component of business succession planning has become more complicated with the growing concern about long term care. However, with the accumulation of wealth, there is reduced concern regarding the availability of resources to pay for long term care, if appropriately addressed.

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What You Should Know About Long Term Care Insurance

Per my previous posts on this subject, “Business Succession and Long Term Care,” and “Long Term Care and a Living Trust,” I hope you understand and agree that the financial independence component of business succession planning should address Long Term Care contingencies.

Long term care is not a simple matter even if you have the resources to provide for whatever level of care you desire. Due to the medical circumstances associated with the need for long term care you will need an objective advocate who you believe would have your best interest at heart who may not be your children because as your children may be preoccupied, from the dark side, or you may not have any children. 

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Rediscovery - The Secret to Life Transitions

Regardless of what kinds of activities you follow – sports, music, movies, politics, etc. – you’ve probably wondered why some people hang around for so long, before it becomes too long.  Brett Farvre may have played a season too many.  Frank Sinatra may have sung a few years too many.  Why it happens is fairly simple; and how it happens should be a lesson to all of us.

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To Sell or Not to Sell? Removing the Confusion from the Question

I know someone whose business has been for sale many times over the length of our relationship.  In fact, he could actually have sold it on at least six occasions that I know about; and each would have given him a “never have to work again” lifestyle.  But, for reasons best known only to my friend Sam, he routinely leaves a willing buyer scratching his head in bewilderment.

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Dealing with Business Owner or Family Member Marginal Competency

The good news is that we are living longer and have more time to develop and deploy a business succession plan. The bad news is that many of us will outlive our mental capability while filling important management and leadership roles within the family business. Unfortunately incompetence is usually the result of a cognitive capacity transition that is stressful for both family and management. The no-man’s land of marginal competency creates a dilemma which can imperil family harmony and the welfare of the business.  The question is, should you mind your own business and repress your stress or should you call the question and run the risk of offending parent(s), family, friends, management and advisers? Based upon my experience both options compare to a root canal without Novocain.  Such is the nature of a family business dilemma; damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  Dealing with potentially marginally competent business owners or leaders is an unfortunate, emotionally volatile, pathetic family business predicament.

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How to Address Marginal Competency in a Family Member or Business Owner

Although an uncomfortable subject, it is reasonably predictable that some of us will outlive our brain. Advances in medical science have increased the likelihood of beating cancer and the likelihood that more of us will experience some degree of incompetence prior to death. Incompetence will be preceded by a transition with good days and bad days until at some point there will be confirmation that we are not able to manage our affairs. In a classic retirement environment this is no big deal. However in the family business realm where founders and subsequent successors commonly stay engaged well into their late 70’s and early 80’s because they are either addicted to the culture or they are an integral component of the success formula. In light of the difficulty self assessing competency and the emotions associated with telling a love one that they are losing their marbles, Marginal Competency represents a significant challenge to both the business mission and family harmony.

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How to Prepare for the Disability or Incompetence of a Business Owner

There is much estate planning discussion in the family business arena about incompetency. The classic result is that most estate plans include provisions for a designated party, usually a child or sibling to assume responsibility and control of a family member’s, usually a parent’s, business affairs in the event of disability or incompetence.  The goal is to avoid a very formal and cumbersome guardianship that in addition to the ongoing administrative expenses opens the family’s private affairs up to public scrutiny. The mechanisms for administratively assuming responsibility outside of a formal guardianship is a Durable Power of Attorney or the successor trustee provisions of a Living Revocable Trust.  The typical qualifier for these two mechanisms is usually affidavits from two independent physicians that the parent is unable to attend to their customary business affairs.

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