THIS BUSINESS WAS BORN FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
There are many entrepreneurs in my family.
My foster sister, my brother-in-law, several aunts and uncles, my mother, and of course, myself. All of their stories have informed my understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
But no story has more impacted my journey than that of my step-mother and father. Their experience – and my role in it – laid the very foundation for this consultancy.
When I was in middle school, I used to sit on the floor of our living room and lick hundreds of stamps on employee surveys.
My child labor (and sticky tongue) were due to our new, small family business. My dad and step-mom had started one of the country’s first employee culture consultancies from scratch.
Incredibly, their little business truly became a global movement.
From our living room floor – to a small office – to a bigger office – and eventually to offices in the financial districts of San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and other major cities all across the globe.
Over the next 20 years they grew to 100 domestic employees on both coasts, and another 500 employees in franchise locations across the world.
Their annual conference hosted a who’s who of corporate America – and resembled the United Nations with delegations from places as far flung as India, Argentina and Japan.
It was a global business and a huge success.
AT LEAST THAT IS ONE WAY TO TELL IT...
The reality – from the inside – was far more chaotic.
Over the course of a decade, I watched my dad and step-mom’s business get battered by a series of personal relationships gone awry, between partners. Good people – with competing interests and visions for the future.
These ownership conflicts trickled down into a whiplash-giving management structure that saw something like 8 CEOs come and go over 7 years.
Lawyers and mediators made a fortune.
I share this personal information, to establish a connection.
I know that every business owner faces their own challenges. Things are not usually as good as they look from the outside. In fact, I have come to realize that for owners – business is always personal. You cannot simply switch jobs to escape difficult workplace issues, partnerships gone south, or cash flow issues.
However – I also know from experience that it is possible to navigate the trickiest situations that keep you up at night.
POPS NEEDED HELP
When my father was nearing retirement, I could tell from conversations across the dinner table that he needed some help moving on. The company’s fast growth left a high debt load, tied to him personally. It was a lot to manage. The stress was visible in his face.
I left my own company in the hands of my business partner. I went to work for my dad with the goal of helping him retire. Over the next three years, I negotiated with our global leaders, recruited a new CEO, communicated a strategic vision to our employees, and steered the transition of leadership.
These solutions seem simple when they are put in a single sentence.
Aligning the company's leadership and preparing for sale was a very difficult, multi-year process involving all stakeholders around the world. But we did it.
Then – during a year when “Employee Culture” was arguably at the pinnacle of the national business conversation – we closed the sale of the company to a values- aligned wealthy individual.
My father could capture his equity and retire. I could see his eyebrows relax, and the weight lifting off his shoulders when the papers were signed.
WE'VE BEEN THROUGH IT
The folks I work with are down to earth.
That's why I like my job. There isn't a lot of politics, or pretense. It's just real life. People who have dedicated their life to building something.
Every story is unique. I look forward to hearing yours.