That Which Endures

I recently received a review copy of Geoff Colvin’s new book, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will.[1] In it he asks which human skills will be highly valued tomorrow, given the growth of ever more awesomely able technology.

Calvin observes that the skills valued by the economy are changing. He explains that mastering technical skills that have been in demand in the past, no longer makes us different. In her review of the book, Pulitzer-prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes that the skills that differentiate us are: “Instead, empathy, creativity, humor, relationship building, and expressing ourselves with the greater power than logic can ever achieve.”

I can’t help think of these as inherent qualities of successful multi-generational enterprises.

I like Colvin, not for dispelling the unspoken fear of being replaced by a machine, which does certainly appear from time to time—not so much for me as for my children—but for emphasizing the value and importance of inherent talents and personal qualities over and above skills that can be mechanized.

It is, then, the vital human touch that will carry our businesses; our economy; into the future.


1 Colvin, Geoff. Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2016.


Emotional Intelligence – Do We Have Two Minds?

Last week I wrote about why family businesses are particularly susceptible to the impact of emotional triggers. I observed that, well-directed, emotions can be useful. Successful business families blend cognitive perspectives–thinking, understanding, learning, remembering–with the energy of emotions. At the intersection where these “two minds” meet, the capacity for cooperation, innovation, growth and longevity is born.

The term ’emotional intelligence’ (EI), became popularized in the book by that title by psychologist Daniel Goleman. Also called ’emotional quotient’ (EQ), the idea can be stated as consisting of four capability factors present in differing degrees in each individual:

  1. The ability to recognize one’s own emotions;
  2. To recognize the emotions of others;
  3. To discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately;
  4. To use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.


There are tools for assessing emotional intelligence factors such as empathy, relationship skills, family relations, social dynamics at work, job performance, leadership and more. With these tools you can identify your own and your team members’ emotional intelligence quotients. While individuals are often found to be stronger in some areas and weaker in others, the good news is that EQ levels can be increased.

Next week I will present how a family integrated principles of emotional intelligence into their family-business model.