What Happened to What Was Once the West’s Greatest Industrial Power? Dr. Henry M. Kaiser shares his family story and what he learned from it

It is a cloudy Tuesday afternoon in San Francisco. I’m having lunch at the Embarcadero with Dr. Henry M. Kaiser. I met Dr. Kaiser a couple of years ago when I joined his lead in creating the FFI Northern California Chapter. Our shared passion for family business has made for a few interesting conversations in the past. Today is not an exception.

I’m listening to Dr. Kaiser’s explanation about what motivated him to write his book “Inheritance Lost, Heritage Transformed,” where he relates his life and the events that lead a Fortune 500 family-owned company to enter voluntary liquidation just seven years after the passing of its founder and his grandfather, iconic industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.

While I’m listening to Dr. Kaiser’s story, I cannot help but notice his candor, strong curiosity, drive to be better and his fight to be relevant and make a difference. I can almost feel his passion about helping others to avoid the pain, powerlessness and disappointment that he experienced when the family empire dissipated in front of his eyes. Within Dr. Kaiser’s story there are certainly some important lessons to share that may inspire others to take the actions needed to achieve a more positive outcome with their own family companies.

In this short interview, Dr. Henry M. Kaiser, former director of Kaiser Hospitals and Health Plans, explains the events that led to the voluntary liquidation of the family business and shares some words of wisdom about what he believes he, and those around him, could have been done better.

Written by Carmen Lence, Executive Coach at NextGen Consulting & Coaching LLC. Contact Carmen  at carmen@nextgenfamilybusiness.com

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