Teaching Trust

This past Spring my daughter completed two years teaching high-school math in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with Teach For America https://www.teachforamerica.org. She is staying on another year so she can see the first class she taught graduate. Now in her third year, she is participating in a semester-long professional-development program sponsored by Teaching Trust http://www.teachingtrust.org/.

She showed me the resource they are working with: The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey, whose father, Stephen R. Covey, wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

So many family enterprise stories come to mind with trust as a factor–the good, bad and in-between. Family businesses built on strong trust among family members are going to win out over any other kind of business, time and again.



What Do Google, Apple and Successful Family Businesses Have in Common?


In a recent posting on Tech Crunch Network Justin Rosenstein writes that Apple and Google, both having reached the pinnacle of business success, are very different companies in their business style and leadership. What they have in common though is a culture of authenticity that is the source of their success. Rosenstein writes that what all great organizations and all great leaders share is self-actualization—working in a way that’s authentic to who they are. This requires, he adds, that they deeply know who they are.

Authenticity is largely believed to be inherent in family enterprises. And nothing could be more important for any business that put its family name behind who they are and what they do. For some family enterprises authenticity may be difficult to maintain as the generations transition. But this need not be so.

Rosenstein identifies six practices that a business can undertake to achieve authenticity. The top three are:

  1. Achieve clarity of purpose
  2. Determine and live your values
  3. Define your brand’s personality attribute

To read his article and all six practices: http://techcrunch.com/2015/08/05/the-one-thing-every-great-company-has-in-common/


How Did Grandpa Start the Business?

This is a question that should instill a sense of pride. The entrepreneurial spirit that started the family business is both a touchstone for the family and a competitive advantage in the market place. It is a story generally built on clear values, creative problem solving, experimentation and hard work.

Regrettably, most family businesses fail by the third generation, not for want of any of these qualities, but from changes in time, place, and markets.

Family businesses that include ongoing innovation as part of their strategic planning, similar to the spirit in which the business was started by grandpa and his brothers, are ensuring their multi-generational longevity.



“A Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste”

Quote attributed to economist and entrepreneur Paul Michael Romer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Romer.

It’s natural behavior that when things are good, business is growing and we are making money, we pay less attention to costs. It’s a time when expenses can creep upwards, but don’t matter significantly. Eventually though, they may get out of hand precipitating a crisis; which is, in Romer’s view, a terrible thing to waste.

I often use the metaphor of going down a river on a raft and encountering unexpected rapids. How do you react? In the rush of adrenaline do you panic, freeze up? Or do you act to maintain control–tie down what you need and discard what you don’t; keep the front of the raft headed downstream; steer away from rocks. In this crisis your ride down the rapids can be debilitating, even disastrous. Or it can be safely negotiated, even exciting, exhilarating–an experience that leaves you stronger to meet challenges ahead.