How to Avoid “From Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Three Generations.” James E. Hughes Jr. Provides the Answer at the FFI Northern California Event

James E. Hughes Jr.


The FFI NCAL Chapter Formation Team recently hosted the second event of a series that is aimed at raising awareness of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter for the Family Firm Institute. Thanks to the efforts of Susan Ott and Henry Kaiser, who did a fantastic job of organizing the event, we all enjoyed a great learning and networking experience.

This time we had the opportunity to learn from Mr. James E. Hughes, who has more than forty years of experience working with family businesses. Mr. Hughes is also the author of the well-known family business books: “Family Wealth—Keeping it in the Family” and “Family: The Compact Among Generations.”

Mr. Hughes’ views on the issues related to passing wealth to the next generation and the impact that this can have on their lives did take me by surprise. Usually, the next generation are often perceived as being responsible for taking over a well-run family business and running it into the ground; they are also frequently considered to be entitled, dependant and spoilt. Mr. Hughes’ presentation focused more on the root of the problem and looked, in an entirely different light, at some of the issues that impact next generation family members.

During the presentation, all participants were asked to draw a very simple galaxy where one planet represented the “Donor” and was divided into two main areas: the “Land of Mindful Donor” and the “Land of Thoughtless Transfer.”  From this planet a meteor was ejected towards the “Planet Recipient.”  The question that he encouraged us all to ask as we drew the diagram was: “What is in your meteor?”

Mr. Hughes described how Planet Recipient is happily going about its business until the meteor is launched from Planet Donor, travels into its atmosphere and pretty much changes everything in a blink of an eye. If the meteor comes from the Land of Thoughtless Transfer, which in his opinion happens most of the time as the result of the donor feeling guilty about something and following his or her own agenda, the recipient runs the risk of becoming dependent and entitled.

What can the recipient do when the meteor suddenly lands on his/her planet? They have to adapt as quickly as possible, integrating this new alien body into their lives. Mr. Hughes presented the following simple formula:

Adaptation + Resilience = Integration

Adaptation – Resilience = Disintegration

The main element that the recipient needs to survive and thrive once the meteor hits his/her planet, is resilience and the quality of the recipient’s resilience is all that matters. The recipient has already built this resilience by educating himself/herself on who they really are, knowing what they want in life, developing a purpose for themselves and being their own person.

Mr. Hughes argues that the meteor should always comes from the Land of Mindful Donor, in that it should be launched by a donor who carefully thinks about the impact that the transfer is going to have on the recipient’s life. A Mindful Donor is a donor that considers how to enhance the life of the recipient, thinks about his or her intention and invests time developing the recipient as a human being. According to Mr. Hughes, it is crucial that donors make every effort to help the recipient to learn about his/her learning style, vocation and personality, and truly discover the deepest root of who he/she really is. This will ensure that the recipients are prepared for a fulfilled life, with or without the meteor and its content.

What about you? Do you think that this is the best way to end the “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” cycle?

Written by Carmen Lence, Coach and consultant at www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com

A Successful Woman

A successful woman has died. She did not have an MBA, or run a Fortune 500 company or have a “job,” other than being the heart of a family.  She was a wife, a mother, a mother in law, a grandmother, a sister, a friend… a woman.

In the past I didn’t really consider women that dedicated their entire adult lives to caring for their families as successful. To me success meant having a great career, making good money and being recognized for what you do professionally.

She did not have any of those, but what a great success her life was!

She raised three wonderful men. She taught them the values of hard work, honesty, humility, and achievement. She supported them, even when she did not agree with their decisions.  She raised them to be free, courageous, generous, respectful and she helped them to achieve a fulfilled life. She was proud of her sons’ professional and personal success: their success was her success.

She welcome three daughters-in-law into her family and made them feel loved, accepted and an important part of a close family. She treasured, cared and respected them as if they were her own daughters.

She welcomed five grandchildren and became the most caring and fun grandmother any child could wish for. She was always there if they were hungry or scared or wanted a playmate. She enjoyed watching them as they played, or ran or made a mess of her kitchen; she loved the little ones so much!

She was the heart of the family, keeping us together around delicious food, great wine and fun company. She loved all of us and made every one of us feel so special.

One day she got sick and we all held our breath hoping for the best. Sadly, the best did not happen.

I still want to have a great career and be recognized for my work. But now I know what is truly going to make me feel successful and let me go in peace when my time comes. Thanks for a great lesson on what is truly important in life.

In memory of Martha, a successful woman. You will always be in my heart.

Written by Carmen Lence

Is Women Power Enough to Break the Glass Ceiling?

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I just got off the phone with my friend Michio, back in Japan. She was so fustrated about her job situation that she really needed a friendly ear to vent to. After five years working for the same company she just had enough of waiting for an “opportunity” and she decided to look for it elsewhere. “I’m one of the few women in my office that is not working as an ‘office lady,’ and still they are reluctant to promote me; they believe that sooner or later I’ll leave my job to get married and have kids,” she said. Michio’s profile, a single woman in her early thirties with a university degree, several years’ work experience and frustrated with the difficulties in getting ahead in her career, is not unique to Japanese society, but especially common in Japan, where less than one percent of corporate directors are women.

Family businesses are not an exception.

Apart from interesting cases like the “ryokans” (Japanese traditional inn) in Japan, where women rule generation after generation, most women in family businesses get leadership positions when there are no men in the family to go around. Still, succeeding dad in the family business is one of the fastest ways for a woman to break into top management.

Women power does make a difference


Global leaders like IBM and P&G are promoting their “gender diversity” programs as they have figured out that having more women in management will help them to better understand the needs of a big percentage of their customers, women.

Also, a study conducted by Catalyst, a research company specializing in gender issues, shows that the leading companies in their sample had women accounting for 20 percent of their top managers, while the bottom companies had less than 2 percent.

If this is not enough proof of women managers positive impact on company performance, look at the UK’s Cranfield School of Management study, which found that 69 firms in the FTSE 100 with at least one women director scored an average return of equity of 13.8 percent compared with 9.9 percent of the other 39 companies with no women directors at all.

Why are there still so few women in top management?


Many go the easy way and blame women themselves, arguing that they are not as ambitious and committed as men to making the hard climb to top management and that they are too eager to leave their careers when they get married or have children. As a woman, I find this argument quite cynical.

I’ve meet many expatriate’s wives throughout the years living in different countries. Most of them have great education and work experience but left their careers and well paid jobs when their husbands were offered job opportunities abroad. Why? Simply because they could not compete with their husbands higher salaries and better career prospects.

This is also a choice that many women are compelled to take when they have children. If the couple doesn’t make money enough to pay baby care, the woman’s job is the first to go, as she  normally earns less than her husband. Statistics show that women in general have fewer offers to managerial positions and generally lower salaries for the same positions.

Society is not so supportive to career women.

Women are blamed for the low birth rate in the industrialized world, picturing working women that remain childless as selfish and self-centred. Needless to say, working mothers don’t get much better press either, making many mothers feel guilty about wanting to have a career.

Interestingly enough, statistics show that the countries that have the lowest levels of fertility are those with relatively low levels of female labour force participation while the countries with higher fertility levels tend to have relatively high female labour force participation rates.  So, it seems that supporting women to have careers actually makes them more willing to be mothers as they feel more confidence in being able to provide a better life for their families.

In my opinion, companies and governments have to make an effort to help women combine family and career. Women will have no incentive to return to work after maternity leave if they are not offered the possibility to rise to management-level positions and the flexibility that a working mother requires. Who wants to go back to a dead-end job that costs you money because you have to pay someone to look after your child?

Women power is not enough to break the glass ceiling; companies should offer true equality of opportunity– equal pay to men and women for the same positions, and flexible hours and child care facilities for working parents. Governments should help with tax incentives and positive discrimination establishing minimum quotas of women in management. Basically, women power needs people power to really make a difference.

Written by Carmen Lence, Executive Coach specialized in working with Family business and women entrepreneur.

For more information about Carmen Lence click on www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com

How to Make It Cool to Work for a Family Business

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Let’s face it, working for a family business isn’t considered by most professional managers to be a great career move. Many managers believe the career prospects will be limited, as the top jobs will most likely go to family members. Also, many picture themselves in the middle of a medieval court full of intrigues and fights between rival heirs, struggling to keep themselves impartial. So, no wonder family businesses have a tough time attracting talent!

So, how to make it cool to work for a family business?

Outstanding company values, great leaders, a challenging job, attractive performance-based compensation and a culture of empowering and developing people, these are the keys to attracting and retaining talent for any company including a family business.

Take, for example, Roche. The Swiss Pharmaceutical giant employees more than 60,000 people; yet it is still controlled by the founding family. “There is a culture at Roche that nurtures talent,” says Alexander Zehnder, at the moment seconded to Genentech in the US, a member of the Roche Group. “This culture gives employees the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills, on- and off-the-job, and to gain international experience.”

Another example is the Bonnier Group, a Scandinavian media conglomerate of over 200 privately owned companies and currently in the sixth and seventh generation. Here, to make it more attractive for non-family managers, the governance structure is shared with non-family executives, with a non-family member either holding the chairmanship or the presidency.

Some of you may be thinking- these are huge companies you are talking about, they can afford to have all these systems in place and they will attract good people anyway. Well, this is a bit like the question “What comes first, the chicken or the egg? I believe that these are big, successful companies because they have put these systems to work in the first place.

So, let me sum up the must dos for making your company attractive to talented executives independent of its size:

– Great Values
People want to work for a company that cares about its people and that has a mission that motivates them.

– Great Leadership
People choose companies for their leaders. Great leaders do treat people with trust and respect. They build the capacity to achieve results, knowing that they do this by unleashing the talents of their people

– Performance-based culture
The combination of a strong performance ethic and an open and trusting environment achieves great job satisfaction.

– Attractive Compensation and promotion policies
Your company will get the best from your family and non-family executives if key management positions are open to non-family members, assigned based on competence, and utilize performance-based compensation.

I suggest making the promotions criteria a bit harder for family members, the reason being that as family members they will be in the spotlight. If they are clearly better no one will object.

– Family employment policy

While having members of the family working in the company is in the company’s interest, because they have stronger commitment and loyalty to the company (after all they own it), having family members that are not up to the job is dangerous and irresponsible.

A transparent family employment policy, which establishes the criteria for family members to join the company, will help you to avoid a tough time with your sister desperately wanting to get his dropout son into the business. Also, it will show non-family executives that jobs are not awarded on family merits, but on actual capabilities and performance.

If you link the points above with the flair of working for an innovative entrepreneurial company, able to adapt and respond quickly, with long-term vision and strong commitment to their customers and employees, all characteristics of family business, Wooow! It really sounds cool to work for a family business!

Written by Carmen Lence coach and Consultant at NextGen LLC

Dennis Jaffe on How to “Make it Happen” for the Next Generation Owners of Family Business

For 40 years, Dennis has helped families manage the personal and organizational issues that lead to successful and fulfilling transfer of businesses, wealth, values, commitments and legacies between generations. He is professor of Organizational Systems and Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco. Dennis received his BA in Philosophy, MA in Management and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University.

As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist, he is one of the architects of the emerging field of family enterprise consulting. As a founding member of the Family Firm Institute, he has presented at many of their annual conferences, served on their board, written frequently for their journal Family Business Review, and was awarded the Richard Beckhard Award for contributions to practice.

In this interview, Dennis Jaffe share his experience in helping next generation members of family business to create a future for themselves and the keys to succeed at succession.

Do you want to gain control of your family Business? Buy it!

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Jamie Calvetti, President of James Calvetti Meats in Chicago

After 32 years working in the family business and running it before his father’s passing, Jamie Calvetti found himself as an equal co-owner with two more siblings that were not involved in managing the business. The situation got to a point that he had to buy his own business to gain control. In this interview, Jamie Calvetti, President of James Calvetti Meats, one of the USA’s leading purveyor’s of prime quality meat products, shares how to go about buying your family business and what he learned from his father’s mistakes.

What were the main challenges that you faced working in your family business?

In family business, there is a lot of jockeying back and forth. My father was aggressive, charismatic and well known around the country. He slowly allowed me to manage some pieces of the business.

I had been gainfully working and managing in the business since I started. I learned everything that I could about the business. I bought computer into the business in 1982 for logistic and accounting functions. Email did not exist in 1982. I managed to processing, logistics, personnel, accounts receivable and payables and some purchases. I had my own sales, but of course there was many times that competition was a problem. I did everything an entrepreneur does in a business.  In 1986 I started up business in Japan (the country was too small for my father and myself to compete within). Shortly after that I started up sales in Europe. Between the time 1986 and 1991, I traveled, on business, to Japan and or Europe about 15 times.

In 1991 I was able to manage the large multinational business customers we had because of the change in technology. That was the advent of email.  Major customers starting using email to communicate, which I was very proficient. My father’s style of communication did not work for the new younger buyers/managers.

My father felt that I was taking him away from the business. There was a competition between my father and I and competition between the siblings.

Was there any succession planning?

There was no formal succession planning. My father’s accountants came to him and said he needed to move some of his shares to his children for tax purposes. He wanted to split it equally. The accountants, unbeknownst to him and me, gave me a tenth of 1% more than my other siblings.

Were you the only sibling working in the company?

One sibling was. He was in charge of the newspaper for the first 15 years and then in charge of Internet marketing the last 15 years.

Do you think that equal is not always fair?

It wasn’t. The accountants set it up. When my father passed away there was jockeying for position. At that point, my father was 89 years old, and I was running the business.

My dad was very good at running a business and did not melt the company. Because of that, the company was and is very well financed. We left quite a bit of cash in the business.

I had to buy both my siblings out over three years and both were major negotiations. There were bad feelings involved and it took a very aggressive attorney to take care of things on my side.

In the meantime, we had to run a business. I could see down the line that with all these buyouts I was going to need to start growing the company again. We were in the airline and food service business and we stopped growing after 9-11 and didn’t diversify. I tried to diversify a couple of times and it failed. Ultimately, I went back to my core business. I reduced my salary and reduced expenses where it was necessary to generate the cash for the buyouts.

What were the keys to raise capital to buy your siblings out?

You have to make a profit, have good cash flow, and show and prove that to the bank. Handle your personal finances properly and correctly. Be conservative with the money that you do have. I had my  broker contact the bank and give a referral. I come from a place where my dad wanted to pay everything in cash. We paid cash for a building, and in about 17 years the value of the building doubled and there are no loans against it.

You just have to play it right and you can’t be the guy that has a $1 million dollar house with an $800,000 mortgage. You will not get the financing even though that is your personal stuff they are going to look at it. They are going to see that you are too much of a risk taker or you don’t know how to run your money.

I also look at my cash position every day. I know what my accounts receivable, accounts payable, loan, and my cash positions are. I also know what my estimated payouts are for the following week. In the meat business, you have to pay your bills in seven days because we buy a perishable product. You should also follow the markets. When we made a lot of money, instead of taking it out, I loaned it back to the company. It was advantageous to me because I could pay myself interest more than market rates.

It also showed the way that you ran the company.

Right. I had stable employees. You bring the banks in show them the business-that is not normal. You show everything to them and show them you can make money in various economic conditions.

When your father passed away there was no real succession plan. What would you do differently for your children?

I don’t have any children but I do have a stepdaughter. I would never burden her with this. What I would do different than my father is I would determine who was most interested in the business and most capable. I would move those assets upon or before my passing to that person. Then, I would compensate the others.

How is your relationship with your siblings now?

We have a strained relationship.

Do you think that all this pain could have been avoided with proper planning?

Maybe. Entrepreneurs are a special type of group – they are very competitive at least my father was. He was competitive with his children. I can remember a couple times, that he wouldn’t be so happy  that I would bring in a huge order. It was a strange situation.

What advice would you give next generation members that are considering buying their Family Business?

  • You first have to know how to run the business profitably and conservatively. You should not take a $500,000 salary, take cash out the business, and expect the bank to finance the business.
  • Have to have your own money in the business too.
  • Have a great reputation in your industry, better reputation than everybody else.
  • Pay your bills on time or early. That gives you power to do the things you want to do or at least it helps you.
  • Then you have to run your personal life properly. Don’t have a $1 million house with $800,000 loan.
  • You have to be and work at the job. You can’t be on vacation all the time.
  • You have to have stable employees, be a good manager, and a good communicator.

What about you? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What other resources could have been used to take control of the company? Are banks the most likely founding source for family business buyouts? Please, share your experience, we can all learn from it!

Written by Carmen Lence, Coach and Consultant at NextGen Consulting and Coaching LLC. www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com


How Educational And Networking Events Can Improve Your Family Business.

Click on the picture above to learn the highlights of last Friday’s presentation by Peter M. Johnson on family business governance at the Institute for Family Business at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

Peter M. Johnson, Director of the Institute for Family Business at University of the Pacific in Stockton,  shares in this interview the value for Family Business to join networking and educational programs, like the ones offered by the Institution he leads, to learn what to do when you don’t know what to do in your family business. Ready to learn and mingle?

How does the Institute for Family Business support family businesses?

With all of our family business, wherever they are we support them through several different ways. First, we offer about five (and as many as ten a year) different programs in different locations. These programs are offered to family members and non-family members who are key employees. With the idea that attending this program with key non-family members or their consultant, everybody is on the same page. They hear the same message and it is easier to start creating a strategy around what a group heard in a program. They will get information for an expert in the field who will speak about challenges as a current or former family business owner, consultant, or a panel.

The other benefit of the program is that it allows family to talk to each other.  One of the biggest challenges that I have seen over the years is that families always think they are alone. They think that they have unique challenges and that they are a messed up family and other family businesses are much more professional than they are. So, it is an opportunity for families to get to know each other and learn from each other.

We also have a very large resource library of videos from previous programs, books, articles, consultant information, and a wide variety of family business resources that we can refer our members to.  For example if someone inquiries about non-family employee conversations, succession planning or would like a consultant, we have resources that we can refer them to.  We will also connect them with other members who for example may be thinking of starting an independent board of directors. They have not done it before, are not sure what the structure would look like, and want to know what the pros and cons are. They will want to know if there is another family who they can speak with that has been through this journey and can provide their experiences.

Is the Institute for Family Business at the University of the Pacific the only one of its kind in the Bay Area?

Yes.

Why do you think that there are not more institutions supporting family business in the Bay Area?

That is a great question and I think that there are a couple of reasons for it. First, with some families they don’t realize that they are a family business. Some think of a family business as a mom and pop out of their home or small grocery store on the corner. They don’t really think of big family business like Levi-Strauss, Ford, or Wal-Mart. So a lot of families don’t think of themselves as a family business.

The second problem is that many families don’t want to admit that they need help. Generally, the family has a patriarch in charge and they tend to think they don’t need help and there are no issues. They are blinder to some of the problems and will gloss over the issues.

The third problem is that you have to know where to find family businesses. We know that 80% – 90% of businesses in the United States are family owned or controlled.  But getting people to recognize that they are a family business and promoting the concept to them is difficult. One thing that I hear people say when they come to our programs is that they didn’t realize that this was available. It is kind of tough because until a family is in crisis, like a succession issue, family members tend to gloss over the resources that might be available to them.

Do you think this type of organization is important for next generation family members of family businesses?

Yes and actually what we see is that Next Generation is more likely to call. They recognize that their family is having issues and the senior generation is blind to the challenges and want to know what they can do. The Next Generation largely sees the value in these programs and is more likely to speak up and say that they are a family business. They recognize that the family is a part of the business and that they are having challenges that go beyond the traditional business challenges.  It is critical, especially if the goal is for the Next Generation to take over, for them to develop their leadership skills.

Do you offer leadership development programs for the next generation?

We do. As a matter of fact our programs are not just for one generation, type of business, or industry.  We offer informational programs that go into different topics that can be related to any business.  So the next generation and senior generation both get something out of the programs.

What is your typical member profile?

There is a wide range. For example, we may have a winery that has 4 or 5 family members and 10 full-time employees.  We also have some that have 80 or 100 full-time employees. Almost all of our members are multi-generational and occasionally we will get some from the same generation. They tend to be two –generation with the parents in the business.

Educational and Networking events are a great opportunity not only to learn from the presenter but also from  other participants. What is your experience with this kind of events?

 

Written by Carmen Lence of NextGen Consulting and Coaching LLC. www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com

How to Survive and Thrive Despite the Lack of Succession Planning

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After her father suffered a stroke, Kathleen Thurmond had to jump into managing her family business, without previous experience in the business. In this interview, Kathleen share tips on how to survive and thrive – successfully selling the family business 12 years later, despite having no succession planning, experience, or guidance with running the business. 

If you are in a sink-or-swim situation with your family business, relax it can be done… here is how.

How did you become involved in your family business?

My father had a stroke and it prevented him from being able to do anything with the business. We had an outside person running it day to day. My father was overseeing it and then he had a stroke that created a much bigger problem. At this point, my mother asked me to step in along with one of my brothers.

How was it for you to jump into the family business without warning and running it without guidance from your father?

It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I had just come from being a director of an AIDS hospice program and I had 35 employees. But it was very different from stepping into a uniform supply industrial organization. There were two unions and 50 employees. I had to deal with people who had been there a long time and knew a whole lot more than I did about the business. The fortunate part is when you don’t know very much, you are not as afraid as you might be if you really knew more.

What was your background before joining the company?

I had about 18 years in the fields of non-profit and social work. I have a Master Degree in Social Work, which I got after three years in journalism and I was writing and in to photography prior to that.

With my social work career, I often ended up in management. I was an assistant director in a hospital for 8 years and then went on to run an AIDS program. I was also always politically active in whatever I did because I am an activist at heart. I was on the AIDS commission for LA (Los Angeles) and president of a Long Beach AIDS consortium.

When you joined the family business with your brother, what was your position?

For six months, we shared a Vice President role. Each of us having the same title but he was living in San Francisco at the time. The business was in Long Beach and he never intended to stay. He worked in the business when he was younger in the production area and routing – delivering clothes. He knew the business from that perspective but he was a masseuse and had no desire to either leave San Francisco or to be a part of the business.

When did you start running the business by yourself?

In six months, I was in charge.

What would be your advice for other next gen that do not have a succession plan and all the sudden find themselves in the same situation-?

My first piece of advice would be to do the planning so that the family knows what to do in the event of death or illness of the founder. If you don’t do that then, learn everything you can about the business. Take every industry specific and leadership classes. Immerse yourself in education.

I joined a group of 12 men who were owners of companies like mine. We met every other month and talked about the business. We met at each other’s business so that we could and critique each other. We would give advice and talk about the latest innovations in the industry. That was a big help.

I always attended the trade shows, national conferences, and equipment shows. You learn so much when you talk to other people and see the equipment that someone talks to you about over the phone. In industrial laundry, there are washers, dryers, sort systems, and boilers so it was just like a whole other world for me.

Did you create a team of people to help you?

There were managers when I came in. The difficulty was they were hired primarily by my father. He was more of an authoritative figure, which is usually the case with founders. My management style was more collaborate and inclusive. I think it was important to be that way because in order for them to accept me as a leader, I had to also accept them, their expertise, and knowledge about the industry. I think that made for a much easier transition then if I were to go in and pretend I knew everything and I really didn’t.

Over time some people, I let go of or they let go of me because the style was different. It didn’t sit well with some people who had been there for years. There was also new energy, new people that was coming in who were from the industry and others who were experienced managers from other industries.

After 12 years of running the company, the decision was made to sell it. How did it feel to sell the family business? Why was the decision made to sell it?

When I was about two-thirds of the way through that 12-year process, I got my MBA while running the company. One of things that a professor said to me was what is your exit strategy. Although I didn’t want to hear that at the time, it really planted the seed that I needed to be thinking about it.

I was also very active in my industry and the only woman on my national trade board. I met the big guys Aramark, G & K, Cintas and UniFirst. They began to know me and also began a 5-year project with EPA on environmental management and wastewater treatment. We developed best management practices for the industry. All those things exposed my relatively small company to the larger guys.

They began to call me and at first I didn’t want to talk to them at all. It scared me. I thought I am never going to sell and will be with this company forever. Then, I remembered what my professor said and I began to talk with them. It was then a gradual process and it began to make sense. I sat down one day and really contemplate – did I want to stay here forever? The answer was no.

Selling is all about timing. Of course I am not clairvoyant. I didn’t know the economy was going to crash in a few years but the reality was I sold at the perfect time. It was when the bigger guys were paying a lot for companies my size. More than they paid a couple of years later. Thank goodness I did that because my mother, who is still alive at 93, is comfortable.

Emotionally, what is easy for you to sell it?

I knew deep down that it was the right thing. At the same time, I was letting go of a profession that I thought I would be in for the rest of my life. I was letting go of my dad’s dream. He died shortly after I began to run the company. My mom was helpful and said that if you feel like it is the right time to sell, then let’s do it. It was nice to have her support.

You are the President of the National Association of Women Business Owners-San Francisco. What is the most rewarding aspect of this position?

I wrote an introductory message for our monthly newsletter and a woman called me and said that what you wrote in the newsletter made me feel like you were speaking directly to me. That is what I love. I love mentoring women. I feel like I am here in the world and we as women are to lift each other up. Support each other in our businesses. Champion each other in what we hope to do and really to encourage each other to prosper in the world of business. It is not easy but it is much better for women now. With only 15% of women on corporate boards and 4% of women are Fortune 500 CEO’s, we still have a lot of work to do. It is inspiring to me when I see other women collaborating and working together to boost each other.

Kathleen is a natural leader with a strong “make it happened“ attitude. That is her greatest asset in dealing with having to take charge of the business with no experience or guidance.  What about you? Have you ever dealt with a situation like that? How did you manage it?