My Interview on “The Good Life Project”

Video of my 40-minute conversation with Jonathan Fields, author, entrepreneur, and creator of “The Good Life Project”, a weekly web show.  We discuss the challenges that arise when you build a business and a family at the same time.

Interview with Paul Karofsky, family business consultant

Paul Karofsky

Paul Karofsky is the Founder and CEO of Transition Consulting Group, based in Framingham, Massachusetts and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Paul and his son, David, consult with families in business together about the challenges they face concerning the transition of leadership and ownership. Their goal is to facilitate communication and relationship-building among family members.

Paul Karofsky on why transitions in family business work well only half the time; on why it’s sometimes hard for the older generation to let go; on what questions families need to ask themselves; and on why occasionally progeny shed tears of relief that they are not the right fit to take over. 

Q:  Generally speaking, how well do leadership and ownership transitions go in family enterprises?

A:  Approximately 50-60% of the transitions go really well.  The others have hitches that can vary from serious breaches of trust to confusion about how to do the transition.  There’s often a lot of fear and anxiety on the part of the older generation around letting the younger generation take hold.  Can the kids handle it?  Can they take the company to the next level?  And, if so, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?  And what if the kids screw up?

Q:  What types of problems do you encounter when counseling families on business succession planning?

A:  I encounter older people with middle-aged “children” working in the business, and the owners either can’t or won’t let go.  I encourage people in that situation to commit to a date to retire.  Occasionally I run into someone who has brought their child into the business, and when the child surpasses the parent in terms of success or effectiveness, the parent feels proud, but also uncomfortable.  One of them complained to me:  “Look what it says about Continue reading

Interview with John Bradberry

John Bradberry

John Bradberry of Charlotte, North Carolina, has a background in psychology and works with both early stage and mature companies on organizational development. His book, 6 Secrets to Startup Success, helps founders and investors evaluate and improve their readiness to launch, and grow, a company.

John Bradberry on falling in love with your business; on why founders need to assess their own physical and emotional health; and why passion is not always a great thing when you’re launching a company.

Q: You speak and write a lot about passion.

A: It’s impossible to understand a business and what makes it successful without understanding that it is a personal and emotional process for the founder. It can be both wrenching and glorious.

Q: How do family and personal relationships factor in to your assessments of an entrepreneur’s “readiness”?

A: I come at the topics you write about from another direction. What’s good for the business aligns with what’s good for the personal side of the entrepreneur’s life. You can’t extricate the two and deal with them separately. When we assess the strengths of a business, one of the “assets” we assess is the founder—how much gas does he have in the tank? Is he physically and emotionally healthy? Enough to stay in the game for the long haul? A lot of businesses blow up because the entrepreneur’s personal life is not working.

Q: How do you go about making this kind of personal assessment?

A: We ask founders to think it through. If they are pre-launch, we tell them to take a good hard look not only at their path to profitability, but also at what sacrifices the business will require of their families. The typical founder drastically underestimates Continue reading