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Family Business Values and Generation Next

I was recently asked to provide some perspectives from my background growing up in a family business on what advice I could offer others about how to get the next generation involved in working together. 

For years, I’ve spoken about family business, it’s teachings, challenges and benefits. I’ve had the privilege to be named a 30 Under 35 by Family Business Magazine, keynote Transitions East in Tampa, FL, guest spoken at Bentley, UNH, SNHU, Harvard and Stetson on family business, and been featured in a cover story in Family Business Magazine about our 3rd generation family footwear company, YORK Athletics MFG. Family business is a passion of mine. My family has been featured or quoted in Politico, The New York Times, TechCrunch, Business Insider and many more for our approaches and points of view on the broader business climate. Heck, I even took it back to the farm (generations) in a recent York IE blog post!

Family Business Modernized

The name York IE (investment enterprise) is rooted in the concept of family business enterprise, where the family business anchors a myriad of complementary, adjacent and evolved businesses in a broader empire. I’ve written about My Portfolio Approach to Business for years. I’ve always operated my companies and approached leadership with family business values as the core foundation. Working with family can be hard, same goes for friends — who if you build your business right become more like family — but with an aligned vision, open communication, and strong commitment to one another, this familial culture is the most rewarding of all business endeavors. You win together, face hurdles together, persevere together — with far deeper meaning than the term ‘colleague.’ I encourage all startups we engage to focus on these principles with their employees and build true relationships with each other. It’ll drive results.

I’ve worked hard to evolve and modernize the thinking around these family business values across my business portfolio with an eye also on Internet scale. We’ve never been in a better time to start a company, grow it effectively and efficiently, and run it for tremendous impact to the communities we operate in, both local and global. These multi-generational viewpoints guide my approach today and will certainly lead to the hopeful involvement of the next generation in some way to the family business enterprise we’re creating, hardening and reinventing continuously. 

The Approach

With that, here are some quick thoughts about family business, the approach to take with your kids, and how no matter the manifestation, you can get generation next to have an interest in carrying the torch in one way or another. No matter what, teach them to be kind and people first, and they’ll surely make you proud.

  • Be loyal.
  • Don’t force it. 
  • Make it fun.
  • Involve them and answer questions.
  • Slow it down.
  • Show them by doing.
  • Educate on the fundamentals.
  • Be flexible.
  • Encourage kids to follow their dreams/passions.
  • Ensure they’re rooted in the values.
  • Be inclusive with your employees.
  • Put people first.
  • Display how the customer is always right.
  • Obsess over greater good.
  • Focus on community. 
  • Share the pros… and the cons.
  • Don’t hide the hard stuff.
  • Be transparent, but don’t invoke too much fear.
  • Convey work ethic and accountability.
  • Display control and ownership as intrinsic.
  • Family business is hard. 
  • Communicate openly.
  • Over communicate frequently.
  • Translate the learnings into the next act.
  • Take a 360 approach to the family business enterprise.



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