How to succeed at succession? Use the “BE PROACTIVE” formula!


Be proactive

I believe that this is at the core of every single achievement in life. You have to be proactive; you have to make things happen. Successors that wait for others to take the lead in the succession planning process, will most likely wait forever!

Educate yourself (about yourself, your business and the world)

I don’t mean only formal education (degree, MBA…), but keep on learning at every opportunity about:


Who do you know you are? What do you really want? Do you have what it takes? Can you develop the skills you are missing? Do you want to? Are you willing to pay the price to succeed? Know yourself and keep improving!

Your Family Business:

What kind or business are you really in? Bus Company or transporting passengers? Have you SWOT it? Where is the industry going? Where is the business going?

The world:

What is going on the in world and how does affect you and your business? How is people behavior changing? Keep an eye on the impact of technology.

Pursue work experience outside the Family Business

Get out of the house and work far away from home where nobody knows you. It is hard to be a nobody… but with time and effort, you will survive and thrive!

Re-Shape family communication

It is time to talk about the elephants in the room. Be assertive, positive and eliminate blaming. The formula, describe situation + state how it makes you feel+ ask for what you want= clear, effective communication! Use it! It works!

Out and about

Go to networking events for Family Business, for Next Generation, for your Industry, from your University… don’t forget to network online and keep in contact.  Learnt from others, find a peer group and a mentor that can inspire and support you. Face it! You cannot make it alone!

Act as a leader

Look for opportunities to hone your leadership skills. If you are not leading a team or a project currently, look for a volunteer organization that can provide you that opportunity. Or even better, create one!

Create your own business

I believe that working outside the Family Company not only gives you credibility but it is great for your self-esteem. If you create your own business, no matter how small, your self-esteem will soar.  It will also help you to understand better the 1st generation. It is an unbeatable learning opportunity and if you are really good at it, it may produce the cash you need to buy your Family Business out!

 Think strategically

What ever you do think about how it fits in your long-term plan of leading the Family Business. Are you gaining skills in your current job that will be useful in the future? Are you creating a company that could be integrated in the Family Business?

If you are already working in your Family Business, get involve in strategic decisions and work with the senior generation to define future strategies that fit with your passions and competencies.

Impersonations do not work!

Don’t try to be a copycat of the senior generation. Have your own voice and your own leadership style.

Be vigilant and active about where you can take the Family business applying your personal passions and skills.

Value proposition

What is your value proposition? What do you bring to the table that nobody else does? Why should you be the Family Business successor? Create your own Family Business succession plan having the above questions into account. Be realistic, not only about yourself and your capabilities, but also about the senior generation and other Family members concerns and resistances.

Consider the possibility to buy your Family Company and educate yourself about ways to finance the operation.

Expect great things to happen

Be positive, celebrate your successes and learnt from your failures. Be patience, believe in yourself and keep going no matter what. Expect great things to happen and they will happen!!!


Think for yourself!


Think for yourself!

For as long as I can remember, I was told that one day, I would manage my father’s company. I was told that I was not like my friends from school who could spend the weekend socializing or doing sports. We (my siblings and I) were a different breed; we were members of a family business. So, weekends and most holidays were to work in the business and learn to appreciate the hard work and commitment that running a company requires.

Our breed, unlike most kids I knew, had a very limited career choice. You either study business and work for the Family Company, or work for the Family Company and study business, preferable at the same time. I was not encouraged to think about what to do with my future, everything was already planned and it felt like there were not other options.

When I decided that I did not want to follow that path, I got such a strong opposition from family, friends, and acquaintances’… that for a while I did doubt that I had the right to think for myself and choose my future.

It felt so much easier to just conform… Why bother fighting? I did not get any credit for anything I did anyway! If I stayed in the Family Business I was a spoiled child working for her father not trying the real world. If I left to try the real world, I was a spoiled child that did not appreciate the family business, and if I succeeded at anything people just assumed that it was handed to me.

But I did not conform. I did not allow others to think for me.  I knew that the short and easy path was actually the hardest path in the long term to run.

Those Next Generation members living in Golden cages know what I mean. Yes, you have money, position, privilege… But you don’t have self-esteem and you don’t know your self-worth. Whose fault is it? Mom or Dad’s for putting their desires to control and their fears over what to do with their life , if they no longer have a  business to run? Or yours for giving up on fighting for what you believe is best and stop thinking for yourself? …

It actually does not matter whose fault it is. What does matter is that Mom or Dad are having a great time running the business and living the live of their dreams and you are just watching and fearing that when you get your chance to finally run the show it may be too late or you may not be prepared for it… So, Who should be doing something about it?

Think for yourself!