There is another Dan Schneider walking around somewhere is the U.S.A.  I don’t know where he lives, but I know a little bit about what he does.  Apparently his skill sets include acting, television productions, and related work that particularly attract the attention of early teens. 

I know this because someone who publishes celebrity phone numbers on the web has posted my office and cell phone numbers on that site.  So, when I get calls now asking if I am the “famous Dan Schneider”, I simply say “Yes, I am the famous succession planner; the other guy is the movie star/television producer.”

 Now most of these callers have no idea what succession planning is all about, so the calls do not usually last very long; and the caller is almost always disappointed that I cannot make them a screen star.

Strangely enough, there is a succession story here.  Just as in my mistaken identity case, many people identified as possible successors to a family business or partnership have the right name.  It’s their divergent skill sets and personal interests that complicate and confuse the issue.

So how can you avoid mistakenly identifying successor “A” as the right candidate when successor “B” is the person you’re really after?  Here are some steps you can take to make sure you get the person you’re really after.

  1. Do your homework.  Vet the potential successors so that you can determine if they have the character, capacity, capability, and commitment required to give you an Oscar winning performance as your successor.  The successor doesn’t need to have everything on day one.  While many of the behaviors associated with successful successors can be learned, a strong foundation for them to build upon is key.
  2. Do a second take on character.  It can be learned, even if you haven’t had much luck with teaching it to date.  People (including your children) do change.  Just remember they do it for their own reasons, which may or may not the same as yours.
  3. Define success in terms of commitment.  If you’ve ever coached a little league team, you know that some of the players really didn’t want to be there.  Their commitment and motivation laid elsewhere. The same is true for your children now; their passion in life may be found in other occupations and careers, and that’s ok.  Let them go.  Why wreck your retirement and their life when other options are open to everyone?

Remember, mistaken identity is fun in the beginning, but it gets old in a hurry.

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