Family Business Articles
Papers by Allen M. Siegel, MD
Having “The Talk” For Elder Life Planning
“There comes a time in each of our lives when we know we are approaching that last portion of our lives. In the best of all possible worlds, this awareness would be greeted with a desire to openly share the news with one’s family. However, we don’t live in the best of all worlds. Instead, we live in this world where sensitive thoughts, feelings, and ideas about death, disability and money are mistakenly avoided.
Every family is a collective of personalities that forms a unique ‘fingerprint’ of agendas, secrets, views, and desires. The interactive dynamic of the familial “fingerprint” is always alive and must be considered when ‘The Talk’ finally happens.
When Family Business Hurts, Call a Doctor. Here's Why.
“Here’s a painful fact: 80% of all businesses in the US are family owned and run. Yet only 30% of them make it to the second generation and only 13% make it to the third.
How can this be?
Sure, product and process certainly pose inherently difficult problems for a family business. But the usual problem lies in the complicated family relationships, expectations, hopes, dreams, disappointments, and communicative struggles that are brought into the business space.”
The Avoidance Template
“Succession in a family business should be a smooth and natural process. Instead, it’s often a vexing problem. A successful succession requires family members to have open conversations but our culture doesn’t do well with difficult conversations. We tend to avoid them.
To help you understand the problem I’m going to create a visual metaphor by asking you to close your eyes and picture a shelf lined with your books: adventure books, mystery books, business books, travel books, technical books, and of course, self-help books. At each end of that shelf are supporting bookends. That shelf is your life, the books are your story and the bookends are the two essential life conversations most of us never have.“
The Last Act
“’Surprise me,’ my friend said to his caring son when he asked his father the question, ‘What arrangements would you like me to make for you when you die?’
So many of us, like my friend, avoid that difficult end-of-life conversation, just as at the earlier side of life’s spectrum many families avoid the one about the birds and the bees. The mortality conversation actually begins with ourselves. But often we avoid it because it’s just too scary to engage.”