Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."
- Hal Borland

My New Year's resolutions:
  • I will follow my heart, listen to my gut and do what I feel is right.
  • I will be open to learning from every person I meet and every interaction I have.
  • I will look people in the eye.
  • I will put my true loves—my wife and my children—above all else, continuing to shed the malign values instilled by the family business.
  • I will believe in myself and in my capabilities, further healing my injured self-image.
  • I will be proud.
  • I will continue to share whatever knowledge I gain with whoever is willing to listen.
  • And lastly, to you—the reader, the leaver—I will continue to offer my support whenever needed...

...that's a promise.

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Curriculum Vitae

Yes, your CV is "problematic". It took me nearly 2 months to get to a version I was happy with.

It started with 3 pages, somehow I got it down to 2, and eventually managed to pack my 13 years and 5 (main) positions neatly into 1 page. It was tough. And lingering, as always, was the sense that these positions and experience weren't really "real". I didn't really earn these like anybody else would. I mean, I was probably promoted because I was the son-of-the-boss not because of anything else, right? (Wrong! And you should really get rid of that feeling.)

I bet that you worked extra hard *because* you were the son of the boss. I'm guessing that—like me—you too walked around with the feeling that you had to prove yourself a little more, work a little harder, run the extra mile because of your lineage.

I am also guessing that when no one is looking you will admit that you are good (if not great) at what you do. Bear this in mind when you set out to write the CV.

Now, a few pointers:

  • Decide what is the job/profession you want to pursue.
  • Read bullet 1 again. It is very important that you decide because it is the only tool you have to distill your overloaded CV. If you were the company software developer and the company accountant, decide if your future is in software or in bookkeeping, then tone the other down. If software is where your heart lies, then be only the company software developer (you can mention your bookkeeping skills in the interview if it comes up).
  • Even if you spent 13 years in the same place, no one needs to know that it was in a family business. Leave this for the interview (it will come up anyway). Think of yourself as a regular employee and describe your positions/promotions from that perspective.
  • Don't put it all out there. Leave some meat for the interview.
and most importantly:
  • Don't feel that you need to excuse the fact that you worked in a family business. On the contrary! Be very proud of your time there. It probably gave you a wider perspective on business in general, and allowed you to experience the intricacies of running a company. And most importantly it shows that you have character, loyalty and ability to do hard meaningful work burned into your DNA.

-- This one's for K. Good luck, my friend!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brothers and sisters

Working in a family business doesn't only mean that you are working for your dad. It also means that you work with your siblings.

In my case it was my younger brother, and to make things even more interesting: I was his direct manager.

This created some pretty difficult situations (as you can imagine). On one occasion, he bad-mouthed me to another team member, telling him that I was a not good (I'll spare you the language) manager. I had to hear about this later from the team member. Another time, during a weekly department meeting he started yelling at me—in front of the team—for assigning him a certain task...

It was just another layer of unneeded complexity, and the "cherry-on-top": my dad would side with my brother laying into me for mismanaging him.

It's a shame because eventually it takes a toll on your relationship with your brother(s) outside the business. There's no avoiding it.

A real shame.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas! May your stockings be stuffed with presents!
Happy Hanukkah! May your pockets jingle with gelt!
Happy Kwanzaa! May you receive meaningful zawadi!

How ever you celebrate, I hope you enjoy a peaceful and joyfully time with the people who matter most.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Second thoughts

Having second thoughts is a natural part of the process. I had plenty them.

I remember sitting in the car one day thinking to myself: "Why do this? look at the pain this is causing everyone... And what about the uncertainty: What are you planning to do outside the business? Do you really want to start all over, possibly starting from a lower position? And what about the money issues? So much uncertainty, we should really just give up. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, right?! Let's turn this ship around and head back."

But back to what? Is the "devil you know" really that better?

The answer is no. And the truth is that there is no devil "outside". It's all a trick your lizard brain is playing on you, working overtime to get you back to the known, to conform to the norm. It craves comfort, loathes change.

The trick is to look out for this. Spot it when it happens. Understand where it comes from and accept that it's part of the process, then let it go and continue with the original plan.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What's your passion?

Have you managed to figure out what your passion is in life? That one thing that lights you up inside, puts a grin on your face and makes you go out there and change the world?

If you have, you are very lucky and should be very thankful!

If you haven't, here's an exercise that may help:
Close your eyes, go back in time and ask your little self: What do you want to be when you grow up? Focus on the memory of what it was that you wanted to be. What it was that you wished for...

Does the thought of being what you wanted to be still get you excited? If it does, I wish for you that it comes true.

Happy thanksgiving!


Money is a big issue when it comes to leaving the business. The pay in the family business, including any added benefits (car, house, etc), is usually higher. It is definitely intimidating to step out into the real world in that regard.

The secret: plan for it, get ready for it, because pay will be cut.

If I compare my current and family-business pay, the current is a lot less than the family business. How did I manage? I planned for it, and I stuck with the plan.

Yes, it's hard. But if you ask me, it isn't a reason to not quit the family business.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Deciding to leave and what's next

A reader recently wrote me asking if I could answer the following three questions:
1. How I decide to leave?
2. How I found my new job?
3. How do I find working in a place where I am not my own boss?

I'll post my answers here as I am sure everyone will find them interesting. (Thanks C for writing!)

Deciding to leave
How did I decide to leave? Well, It was a process. A long one. I joined the business pretty early on and spent over 13 years working in it. I started in the mailroom(!!!) and moved up the ranks till I was a senior manager.

The biggest mistake I made was following the path my dad paved for me rather than taking my own. I never asked myself if the business is where I wanted to be, or if it interested me. I pretty much took that I had to work in the business at face value. Down the line this would cause a lack of self-fulfillment, but mostly it caused my father and I to clash over me not meeting the goals he set for me (the goals were unattainable by humans).

The other evil, which exists in most family businesses, is that there is no separation between family life and business life. Business always came first no matter what the setting was. We'd end up clashing over business stuff during off hours (you can imagine what that does to a family vacation).

But the fault that really did it for me was the lack of full responsibility. No matter how high up I was in the ladder, all decisions had to go through my father. It came to the point where I could no longer manage my team as he would come down, reverse my decision (in front of the team) and layout a new set of actions.
I think there were two reasons for this: a. he was looking out for his business; b. he was trying to minimize the mistakes I would make.
I do not accept either: I was looking out for the business too, it was a family business after all; and mistakes are part of life, we have to make them so that we can learn and improve.

And so it was, that after 13 years we clashed for the last time over the latter. He would accuse me of mismanaging my team. Arguing was futile. I quit.

Finding my next job & life in it
The original plan was to find a job before I left the business, taking a week or two holiday before I started. I had managed to score a senior position in a tech company, but a few weeks before I was scheduled to start, they called and said the position had been canceled. (Their loss.)
The result of this was that I spent the next 6 months looking for a job. It was not a fun time to say the least. Money was running out and I eventually swallowed my pride and went on the dole for a short period. It was bad.
But, with the help of some very good friends—which, if you ask me, is the only way to find a good job—I managed to finally get a job. It was close to home (a 30 minute commute) and it was interesting. The added bonus was that it was filled with great people, the kind you can't wait to meet again tomorrow. I love it there.

As for being my own boss—not an issue at all. It's all about your employer respecting your time, something I mentioned in a previous post here. Trust and respect is all you really need to feel like you're your own boss because it empowers you to do great work. And if you do great work you will be trusted even more and respected even more. I was promoted only 3 months in.

If you notice you'll see that I opened with trust and respect (at least lack of) and closed with them. If you ask me why I left the business—and were looking for the short answer—I would say that the gist of it all is trust and respect. The depth of their deficiency while in the family business was intolerable any longer...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sell abilities, not time

One of the things I appreciate about my new job is the fact that it respects my time.

In the family business it was all about putting in the hours. Many hours. Many many hours. Attempting to maintain a work-life balance was pretty much frowned upon. The business came first, before family, before the kids, before everything. The business was entitled to my time before I was.

This brought me to an interesting conclusion: We should really sell our abilities not our time. Our salaries shouldn't be based on a time clock print out, but rather on our ability to do great work. And great work is done when we are committed to ourselves and the work we produce, not when we are committed to a clock.

Respect my time and I will respect yours. Respect builds commitment. Commitment instigates great work!


One of the most meaningful insights I had recently was the understanding that I am no longer "locked in".

When I was in the family business the lock-in was pretty solid:
If the work wasn't interesting, or if there was no salary rise or promotion, I'd just take it without much opposition. There was nothing much else for me to do about it. What would I do, leave?!

I was locked in. Locked in by guilt.

The other night, while I was sitting on the stoop, I had this deep understanding that that situation was no longer the case for me, and I realized that I am free to do as I please: If the work no longer interested me, I could try something else. If the salary or position were no good I could leave to look for a more challenging post. No emotional attachments. No guilt.

Ah, the freedom.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy leaving day!

It's been a year...

...and what a great one!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Should I Leave? (2)

Since the most read post on the blog is "Should I Leave?", and many of you turn to me for should-I-or-shouldn't-I-leave advice, here's a follow up:

Should I leave?
The answer—9 times out of 10—is yes...

In 9 times out of 10: you are in the business because of family pressure or guilt.
In 9 times out of 10: working in the business makes you miserable.
In 9 times out of 10: you feel unappreciated and unfulfilled.
In 9 times out of 10: you know it's not your place.
And, In 9 times out of 10: you didn't stumble across this blog by chance...

Leaving the business is one of the best ways I know to learn who you really are. To make your own decisions. To follow your heart and live your life the way you want to.

If you are still on the fence on this, you better decide. The worst thing you can do is sit on the fence undecided. If you sit there for too long, at some point it will bring on a wave of self-flagellation.

Been there, done that. Better off deciding now.

For me, as you've read here, leaving was the best decision I have ever made and I haven't looked back.

In 9 times out of 10, every bone in your body is telling you to.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What do people think of you?

Answer: It's not what you think they are thinking!

People/the crowd/the customer/the audience have their own ideas of who or what your are. 99.99% of the time they are not aligned with your self-image.

So, butterflies-in-your-belly or not, get up, do your thing and look people in the eye.

It'll work.

The Little Voice That Could

Making the decision to leave is not easy. It's physically exhausting and mentally painful. It takes a toll on everything and everyone around you. You are making the decision to walkout on someone close, (possibly) destroying their dreams for the future.

It's tough.

The loud voices in your head aren't helping much either, doing all they can to foil your plans. Strumming on your emotional cords, filling your thoughts with the overpowering noise of guilt: "How selfish can you be?! A son shouldn't behave this way to his father. You're leaving after all he did for you?! Shame on you!!". Oh, the guilt...

But under all that noise there's a little voice. A voice that is a lot less loud but strong enough to push you forward, making sure you stay true to yourself. That little voice—your own self-grown version of The Little Engine That Could—will keep you sane. It will push you forward through all the pain and hardship keeping you focused on your goal.

Hang on to that voice. It will remind you why you started this in the first place. It will keep the guilt at bay... And when it's all over and done with, it will help you make amends.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The school of life is open to anyone

If you wake up each morning with an intent to learn, you'll be fine. If, on the other hand, you're planning on skipping class today (or not attending school at all), you'll get into trouble.

That's just how things work, arrogance will get you nowhere.

It's the same in life: if you are open and willing to learn then everything that happens to you will have a positive side to it because you are generating something good: a lesson.

Looking back, this ordeal could have turned out completely different. I could have let myself become the beaten victim, sour and bitter, with a heart full of vengeance, a place well-known for spawning "side-effects" such as a failed marriages, neglectful parenting, abuse...

But I chose differently. I chose to learn.

And so I learnt about myself and what makes me tick. I learnt about people and relationships. I learnt about the importance of self-worth and looking people in the eye. I learnt how to just be myself and not worry about what others say or think. I learnt to be positive. I learnt to prioritize and focus. And most importantly I learnt about learning and how to make the most out of each trial I was faced with.

This is my lesson for you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Three Voice-keteers

We all have 3 inner voices that not only speak different "languages" but each have their own agenda. They are:
- The child;
- the parent;
- and the adult.

The child speaks the language of emotions, curiosity, life, innocence and mostly "I want". The child gets angry, sad, happy and fearful; he will get you curious and excited about trying new things; It pushes aside logic and thought for instant gratification.

The parent on the other hand, lays down the law. It will tell you how you should, or shouldn't, behave; what you can and can't do; constantly passing judgment. When you look at a situation and think something about it, that's your parent-voice kicking in.

Put the child and parent in a room together (or in your head) and, well, "fireworks" is an understatement.

Enter the peace keeper: the adult.

The adult does its best to pacify both the parent and child, yet its most important role is deciding what is best for you. Imagine this:
You are at work when your boss walks in and gives you hell for not submitting work on time.
Your child will be all over this saying "Screw this! I don't need this! I'm gonna walk out and we'll see how they manage without me. I'm too good for this!".
Your parent will be giving you a hard time passing judgement: "You should have submitted the work on time! You're so immature!".
Which is when the adult should kick in and say: "It wouldn't be wise to walk out now as finding a new job is not easy. Yes we should have submitted the work, but there is no point in crying over spilt milk. Let's apologize and try and fix it."

A "good" adult will keep things in check. A "weak" one will loose the battle against the child or parent driving you to listen to the strongest of the two, doing something that is either based on your judgement/standards (parent) or your emotions (child). In most cases this will not get you somewhere constructive...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Working in a "regular" business

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to work in a "regular" business? Just going to work without the added pressure that comes with being the son-of-the-owner?

I did. A lot.

While in the family business I was constantly questioning myself: Am I a good leader, or are people following me because I'm the son-of-the-boss? Do people truly respect me, or is it that I'm the son-of-the-boss? Am I funny, or are people smiling/laughing because I'm the son-of-the-boss? You get the picture.

And on top of that I was constantly "over-compensating" for the fact that I was the son-of: working extra hard, doing my best to not ruffle any feathers...

I was loosing myself to doubt, which slowly lead to questions of self-worth.

I kept thinking about what it would be like to just be a "regular" employee with no familial responsibilities towards the business. Would people like me, follow me, respect me? What would it be like to meet new friends, make real relationships with people you spend over a third of your day with without the "son-of effect"?

To most, these questions may seem simple or mundane. But after 13 years "buried" in the family business, in a non-natural, unreal situation they weren't to me. They were uncharted territory way out past the horizon...

Leaving the business allowed me to set sail to that horizon.

I found the answers. The fog has cleared.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Taking stock (8 months into leaving...)

8 months... It actually seems like a lot more...

I served notice back in January 2010, then left in October. So I think it is fitting that 18 months later, I should give you an update on how things are going for me.

Let me start with the positive: I feel wonderful, and I wake up in the morning with a smile eager to take on the day. As I keep saying: freedom is priceless!

Now for the tough stuff...

Leaving the business had a serious financial toll and as would be expected when leaving a highly-paid position, the mortgage and monthly bills become a "little" to hefty. The thing is, I come from a very rich family, which made leaving all the more difficult. But once I decided to leave, the "rich" (and family) left me. And so we ended up selling our house and moving to a more affordable location.

I spent 6 months job-hunting to find a job that pays me less than half what my family-business-salary was.

On top of this, the families broke apart and we were no longer part of the "business family".

Fun, eh?

I am not trying to get you down here. Really, I'm not. Keep in mind that I started by saying that I couldn't be happier.

The trick? If you let yourself find it, there is always a silver lining:
  • Our new home turned out to be a great step forward in quality of life. We love it for so many reasons.
  • Even though I am earning less, I can't wait to get to work in the mornings. Yes – it's amazingly interesting, but more importantly I get to create real relationships with people (without the "I'm the son of the owner" feelings), and I do work that matters.
  • On a personal level, I have become a better and more relaxed father and husband.

Like everything in life, leaving was a lesson. A lesson in growing up, in becoming more self-worthy, in being a better father and husband and in finding my own way. I can safely say that I'd do it all over again if I had to.

Remember: stay positive, stay focused and look for the silver lining. It's there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Buddha left the family business...

He was born prince Siddharta: An only son to king Suddhodana, a demanding father and fearless warrior who fought long and hard to keep his kingdom's borders in check.

The other thing Suddhodana fought hard to do, was keep Siddharta in the "business", isolating him from the real world, forcing him to become a warrior-prince and pushing the crown on to him.

But no matter how hard his father tried, Siddharta's calling was stronger, and eventually he gave up his crown and all possessions to become Gautama the monk.

Free at last to follow his calling, he went on to become Buddha, the enlightened one.

This is the story in a nutshell, a teeny tiny nutshell. But it is interesting to look at from our point of view (us leavers): A prince who had it all, yet felt empty and without purpose. A family generously applying guilt, pushing the kingdom (their own dream) on to him. What does he do? He leaves, and following his inner voice he goes on to do great things.

The only question left to ask is: Are you following your inner voice?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(mis) judging people

When you look at someone (or at a situation) and decide whether he/she/it are good or bad (in basic terms), you are basing your decision on your own personal set of values.

These values have developed in you since childbirth and have been largely effected by your parents, your peers and your own self-developed beliefs. But the key point is that they are yours. Your own.

Sure, we share values like Thou shalt not kill (well, at least most of us do). But the day-to-day values, the ones that decide whether that guy is a 'schmuck' or not, are solely yours. And herein lies the problem.

You see the guy—who you just decided is a schmuck—is working on a whole different set of values: his own. My guess is that they are not identical to yours. So judging him (or her), in most cases, won't get you anywhere good.

Instead of being (mis-)judgmental, try being constructive and positive. Tell yourself a story that fits-in with your value-set, such as: the guy is probably having a really bad day—like I have some times—which is why he is acting that way.

The purpose of this exercise is getting you into a constructive mindset (regardless of the guy's behavior), because in this mindset you are calmer, your fighting instincts have subsided and you are open to opportunity.

In 9 times out of 10, you will find out that the guy isn't really a schmuck, he's just being misjudged.

In Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki talks about accepting others as a way to achieve likability. He sums it up in 4 points:
  • People are not binary
  • Everyone is better than you at something
  • People are more similar than they are different
  • People deserve a break
I think these points go a long way past likability, touching on the basics of human interaction: we all want to be loved, resected and appreciated; approaching people this way (with Guy's advice in mind) will open doors you never knew existed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's all about keeping the balance

Life is a pedulum: always swinging back and forth. One moment you're up, the next you're down.

If you think of it this way you'll see that just as the pendulum can't defy gravity and only swing up, so can't life be going in one direction. If you're up now, it'll balance out; if your down, it'll also change.

This doesn't mean that we should stop swinging the pendulum. We might as well be dead.

It means that we need to be ready and/or hopeful: if you are having a great run and everything is working out for you, be ready for the reverse swing.
If you're having a tough time—at work, at home, in life—be hopeful! The reverse swing is coming...

If you try and fight this, you'll only get hit harder. The higher you swing the pendulum, the mightier the swing back will be. Call it equilibrium, call it ying & yang, light & dark; call it whatever you want. The balance—whether you like it or not—will always be kept.

Accepting this will lead to a better life. A life where you enjoy the peaks to the fullest knowing they will end soon, and weathering the downs knowing those too shall pass.

If you are "stuck" in a family business because of guilt or someone else's dream then your life is not balanced. You are pushing the pendulum in one direction, and ignoring that inner-voice that is telling you this, will only push it further until one day it will swing back with all its force and might.

Tell yourself this: If the reverse swing is coming anyway, might as well be today that you decide to swing it back.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hi there!

So, it's been a while...

I'm sorry. I got caught up in my new job and moving house and everything related to, well, post-family-business stuff...

I'm back and I'll update soon with more takes on life.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finding your next job

It's extremely important that you find a new job and fast. Sitting around the house days, weeks or even months on end is not healthy. I know, I did it for 6 months.

True, I was busy selling my house and moving into a new (cheaper) one. But the effect it had on my confidence and self-worth was not good, and it showed in the interviews. Apparently, interviewers aren't partial to insecure people. (Who would've guessed!?)

You should also keep in mind that progress is made in baby steps. Even if the new job isn't perfect (and it will never be)—but is close enough—you should take it. Get back out there, and into the "real" world outside the confines of the family business. Get back to creating your art. The effect it will have on your being is priceless.

After 6 months at home, I finally signed with a big international company. Though I took a serious cut in pay, I couldn't be happier: I'm joining a great workplace with great people, where I can heal, have fun and self-develop.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Seth Godin

I got hooked on Seth about a year ago. It started with Linchpin, and continued with Unleashing the Ideavirus, Tribes, The Dip. I couldn't get enough of Seth's down-to-earth, eye-level insight.

Seth has written over a dozen international best-selling books, and posts daily on his blog. He writes about business, marketing, leadership and life in general.

For me, Seth has been instrumental in shaping my post-family-business self, helping me visualize, and work towards, the future I want for myself and my family. Here's a post from a few days ago, that just nails it:

Make big plans
...that's the best way to make big things happen.
Write down your plans. Share them with trusted colleagues. Seek out team members and accomplices.
Shun the non-believers. They won't be easily convinced, but they can be ignored.

Is there any doubt that making big plans increases the chances that something great will happen?
Is there any doubt that we need your art and your contribution?
Why then, are you hesitating to make big plans?

If you haven't started on Seth yet, start with The Dip, a "mini" book that will help you get through—well—the dip you're in, then Linchpin that will teach you to be indispensable (and why it's so important nowadays).

...and Seth, if you happen to read this, THANK YOU!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Go gut!

Gut feelings are a force to be reckoned with. If you've read Blink (by Malcolm Gladwell) you know what I'm talking about.

Should you take that job? It may pay less money but something in you is telling you that you should take it;
Buy that house? It may not be the nicest on the block but it feels right;
Take that vacation? Expensive... but something tells you that you (and the family) really need it.

It's a feeling that drives the reaction, rather than a cold analysis of the facts. I've learnt lately that following that feeling pays off. Go on, listen to yourself.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should I leave?

A lot of you (I am always amazed at how many leavers there are) ask me if they should leave the family business. Though I can't answer the question for you, I do my best to give guiding food-for-thought, mostly from my own experience.

If you are considering leaving the family business you should give the following some thought, weighing up if the price of freedom is something you are willing to pay:

  • What will happen to the relationship with your family?
    In my case it completely broke down. Once I told my dad that I decided to leave, everything—and I mean everything—was over. Animosity grew between us, pushing us and our families apart.

  • Do you have a new job?
    By this I mean: do you have a signed work contract with your new employer? I had a promise which was broken and I ended up on the breadline for 4 months till I found a new job. I'm not saying that you should find a job before you leave, but if you decide to leave before you've found something, make sure you plan for it.

  • Consider financial issues that may arise.
    Depending on how it goes with the two points above, you may end up on your own without the financial backing a family business may offer. Make sure your cash flow is planned down to the cent for the next few months, especially if severance pay is not made available to you and there is no job on the horizon. You should also give some thought to the fact that your future lifestyle may take a plunge with the possibility of a major salary reduction in your new job.

  • Is your wife/husband/partner behind you on this?
    You will be going through some very rough waters and it is important that your partner is there for you and strong enough to withstand. Financial worries add serious strain to your relationship and this should be in your thoughts.

  • What is the price of FREEDOM?
    My opinion? It's priceless! But then again, this is for you to decide for yourself.

If you decide to go for it, stay focused and confident (planning helps a lot with the latter). Freedom doesn't come cheap, but once you're there it tastes great!

Monday, February 7, 2011

So what's your dark passenger?

The "dark passenger" (don't you love Dexter?) is a subconscious presence that awakens every now and then requiring "feeding".

My dark passenger is self-worth, or lack of. Every now and then it pops into my conscious, and does its best to remind me of how unworthy I am. I could be sitting in a business meeting or drinking beer with my buddies when suddenly it just takes over. At its worst, I could find myself in the midst of an anxiety attack.

Self worth has always been an issue. I guess growing up with a demanding father who was never 100% pleased with whatever results I brought home is what did it.

But since leaving the family business, my passenger has been kept in check. Even when it does stick out its head I am capable of locking it away again. I'm not sweeping anything under the carpet, on the contrary. When it does show up, I acknowledge its presence and thank it for reminding me—by contrast—just how worthy I actually am.

It goes right back to sleep after this.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A bit about me

So, you're... (circle the correct answer):
A) ...thinking of leaving the family business.
B) ...are about to leave the family business.
C) ...have already left the family business.

If you've circled one of the above, I am your friend. I left the family business after over 13 years, filling different senior position all with good pay and conditions.

Why did I leave? I came to the understanding that the emotional burden that came with working in a family business was taking a toll not only on myself, but on my wife and children too. And once I figured that out, the "golden handcuffs" could no longer lock me down.

The decision to leave was a long process with many ups and downs. Actually leaving was even more difficult.

If leaving is still fresh for you, all I can tell you is: stay focused and confident. In the long run it is the best thing for you and your family.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

There is always another elevator...

I was with my 6-year-old son waiting for the elevator. It arrived, and being preoccupied we missed it. I was in a rush so I cussed under my breath. My son turned to me and said: "Don't worry daddy, there will be another one".

How true.

If you've missed your chance at something, don't worry about it. There is always another elevator...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sad only masquerades as sad

We have four basic feelings:
Happy – Sad
Anger – Fear

It's pretty clear why happy and sad are antonymous. Anger and fear? Well, they go back to primitive times when it was all about fight or flight – fear and flee or get angry and fight (we're very courageous when we're angry).

It's very easy to know when we are happy, angry or fearful. The physical feedback our body gives us is easy to detect. But sadness? Sadness will throw you off.

The thing with sadness is that it only masquerades as sadness. In most cases the underlying feeling is actually anger. Why does this happen? It's all part of our socialization process: We're taught from babyhood that being angry is not good, that we should stop crying or having that fit. And so we replace anger with sadness.

The other day I was feeling really sad. I had had a good day but something in one of the meetings made me feel down. But looking closely at the situation I was actually angry with myself for not doing something.

The important thing with recognizing this is that anger needs room to vent. If you don't recognize it and leave it as sadness it will build up and eventually explode.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life will smack you in the face. Period.

I know you've heard this one before, but there is no avoiding it.

It happens because someone (or something) is trying to teach us a lesson. Not an I'll-show-you! kind of lesson. But one that we should really learn from, that can really better our lives and ourselves.

When I get smacked—and trust me, I do—I take a moment and, as painful as it is, think about:
  • What are my gains? What do I stand to learn from this?
  • What is the risk of not learning the lesson? What will happen if I choose to ignore the lesson?

There is always a lesson to be learnt. Always. At the end of the day, it's all about becoming better people. Better as fathers/mothers, husbands/wives, friends. And we do this by learning our lessons...

Go learn.