How Tony Robbins helped me to stop making excuses


Tony Robbins at Dreamforce in San Francisco

Today, a little dream of mine came true. I had the opportunity to listen to one of the most inspirational speakers and successful coaches of our time: Mr. Tony Robbins. Thanks to the organizers of the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, I found myself jumping up and down in the Moscome center, hugging complete strangers with all my love, shouting YES! YES! YES! while throwing my arms up in the air, clapping like my life depended on it, dancing and jumping even higher… I left with an extra dose of motivation plus a good workout! Great deal!

I have admired Tony Robbins for a long time. He was once a struggling teenager but one day he came across a marvelous book: “Think and grow rich” by Napoleon Hill, which changed his life by starting him out on a path of curiosity that examined the psychology of successful people and helped him to question how he could change his own situation for the better.I also experienced troubles when I was a young adult and I too had come across Hill’s book by pure chance. As with Tony Robbins, the book also changed my life. Like Robbins, I became a self-help junkie, reading any self-help book I could get my hands on. It seemed that those books where the only support I had when nobody else supported me, and after reading so many of them, I came to the conclusion that you are not what you eat, you are what you read! I went from feeling like a victim to feeling empowered and aware that I’m the only one who is responsible for the failures or successes that I encounter in my life; my circumstances were no longer an excuse.

I believe that Tony Robbins’ message is basically a fundamental truth that deep down we all know, but most of the time choose to ignore. That truth is that you can either have what you want, or  excuses not to have it. We all have the potential to achieve our dreams, but quite often we decide that we cannot do so, perhaps due to A, B, or C reason, and many of us look to others to validate our excuses. However, the reality of the situation is that the only thing between you and what you want, is YOU.

During the presentation, Tony explained that our decisions shape our life and that those decisions are controlled by our mental state (how we feel from moment to moment) and our blueprint (our story and expectations). He demonstrated how we are able to change our state by changing our physiology (or moving our body, hence all the jumping) and our focus. You can change your focus by asking yourself questions that launch your thinking in the direction of positivity and possibilities.

For example, instead of focusing on what you don’t have and asking yourself why you are not earning X amount a year? Ask yourself, what is something I can be proud of? What is really important to me? What can I be really grateful for? What excites me? If I were earning X, what would my life be like? What would be the ideal situation? What is an action I can take today to get one step closer to where I want to be tomorrow?

As Buddha said: All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” So, be aware of what your mind is focused on and learn how to change it when this focus is not serving you well.

I know that all this is easier said than done. We all fall back from time to time and return to a state of negativity,  self-defeat or pasivity. That is why the help of a professional coach can make the difference between dreaming and achieving. A professional coach is trained in exercises and questioning techniques that help you to keep your focus on what you want and how you can achieve it. A coach is trained to help you to devise your own solutions that suit your own unique situation and they help you to implement these solutions, keeping you accountable and motivated. A professional coach knows how to inspire you to take the actions you need to take to positively change for the better!

As an example from my own life, I have been putting off writing a new blog post for months and I always seem to find a good excuse to start “tomorrow.”  Today, after all the jumping and hugging, Tony asked the conference attendants to generate one professional goal, I wrote: “have X more clients by the end of the year,” then he asked us to write one specific action that we would take immediately towards achieving this goal. I wrote: “write my blog again.” There you go… done! Coaching works!!!

By Carmen Lence Coach and Consultant at NextGen Consulting & Coaching LLC

If you want to learn more about coaching and coaching for Family Business, I’ll be presenting “Coaching, Next Generation and Sustainable Change in Family Business” together with Christin McClave and Dennis Jaffe at the FFI international congress in Brussels on October 19th. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!


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.

How Do You Eat an Elephant? Dr. Lee Hausner explains her six-step transition model for succession in family businesses at the FFI Northern California event.


Dr. Lee Hausner, Author of "Hats Off To You 2...Balancing Roles and Creating Success in Family Business Succession"

Last week the FFI NCAL Chapter Formation Team hosted the first event of a series that is aimed at raising awareness of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter for the Family Firm Institute. Dennis Jaffe, Susan Ott, Henry Kaiser, Doug Kennedy, Leslie Simon, Timothy Swords, Louis Wellmeier, David Kelly and myself, Carmen Lence, are currently leading the efforts to create better networking and educational opportunities for family business professionals in the Bay Area.

The conference was a huge success and this was predominantly down to the efforts of Susan Ott and Henry Kaiser, who did a fantastic job of organizing the event. Thank you very much for your hard work!

It was also great to see Carmen Bianchi and Mary Gust at the event and the FFI NCAL Chapter Formation Team really appreciated the fact that they took time to attend and show their support for our work.

Thanks to the efforts of Susan and Henry, we were fortunate to gain the support of Dr. Lee Hausner, who was the first speaker of a series to come. She gave an inspiring insight into her succession planning model, the highlights of which I would like to share with you now.

Dr. Lee Hausner is an internationally recognized clinical psychologist, business consultant, author and family wealth adviser. During her presentation, she explained how to approach the daunting endeavor of eating the big elephant that is succession in family business. In her own words, the best approach is: “bite by bite.” To help us to tackle the huge meal ahead, she advises that we start by dividing the elephant into six parts before starting the “feast.”

The six-step transition model for succession in family business was first introduced in Dr. Hausner’s book “Hats Off To You 2…Balancing Roles and Creating Success in Family Business Succession.” It involves a multidisciplinary approach to succession planning in which the founder and the family are involved throughout the process of succession implementation. The first and second steps, focus on founder and family but their involvement in the process continues as it goes through the next steps of dealing with the business, management, ownership and estate transition phases.

Interestingly, in Dr. Hausner’s model, estate planning is the last step in the process, despite the fact that, in most family businesses, it is actually sometimes the first and only step they take with regards to succession planning. In her opinion this is a big mistake because it does not address the sustainability of the business or the family’s “health.”

In Dr. Hausner’s model, the first step involves the founder’s transition, in which it is essential to address any resistance to let go. When discussing this phase of succession planning, Dr. Hausner pointed out that the transfer of power should be a slow process, during which she advises founders extend their limits of authority gradually, expect mistakes and don’t hope or demand to have a clone as a successor.

The second step involves the family transition, in which she recommends family members put on a different “hat,” depending on the situation they are dealing with. For example, members may wish to wear one “hat” when they are conversing as father and son or dealing with a family issue, and a different “hat” when dealing with a business issue. She also stressed the importance of setting clear expectations and transparency to avoid suspicion and the opportunity for “physiological cancer” in the family.

When dealing with the next generation during succession planning, it is important to lay out clear responsibilities, avoid entitlement and promote achievement. Dr. Hausner also mentioned the value of supporting the next generation’s development through coaching and mentoring.

The following step involves business transition, and Dr. Hausner outlined the need for a strong board of directors with independent advisors that can provide objectivity and accountability during the transition process.

Following this, during the management transition step, the family should decide what their future role should be. Should they get involved in the management of the business or would they be better overseeing the business as owners?

The 5th step of Dr. Hausner’s model involves ownership and, in her presentation, she pointed out that “fair and equal are not the same.” This is something that is important to take into account when deciding who is going to own what of the company and family’s assets.

Finally, regarding estate planning, it is important to set clear expectations and aim for a lifetime transfer. Dr. Hausner also stressed the importance of involving the family in philanthropy and any educational opportunities that can be used to develop the younger next generation.

Succession planning is a big elephant to eat and digest, but with the right process, tools and guidance it may become the most rewarding “meal” you have ever had!

Bon appetit!

Written by Carmen Lence coach and consultant at

Six-step transition model for succession in family business