A transition with a twist

By Barbara Spector

When I first joined Family Business in the summer of 2000, I thought the main issues facing family companies were avoiding family arguments in the workplace, ensuring that NextGens earn their stripes, choosing the right successor, encouraging the senior generation to plan for retirement, and running the business like a business and not a family piggy bank. Those topics are all important, of course, but I quickly learned that family enterprise is much more involved than that.

Over the past two decades, I’ve had the honor of meeting wise and accomplished family business members from a wide range of industries, as well as the non-family executives who keep their companies running smoothly and the professionals who advise them. They taught me that family policies are as essential as business policies, that you can have a family business without any family members working in it, that selling the legacy business need not be the end of the family enterprise … and that many problems that arise in multigenerational family businesses can be predicted and therefore prevented.

I’ve greatly expanded my understanding by talking to these family business stakeholders, who have been so generous with their time and their insights. And in turn I’ve been able to relay these essential learnings to you through our magazine, newsletters and website. Our conferences have brought this content to life, with business family members sharing their stories on stage and in informal conversations.

Given what I’ve learned about succession, I know how important it is to be proactive in planning. The magazine’s 30th anniversary, my 20th year on the masthead and a birthday that also ended in a zero all occurred within 10 months of each other. The universe was giving me a sign that it was time to step back.

But how could I say goodbye to this fascinating field that has taught me so much about business strategy and family relationships — and words like “genogram” and “transgenerational” and “familiness”? The best thing about working for an organization that treats employees like family is its openness to flexibility. This is a transition with a twist.

Our forward-thinking business leaders — the Rock family, owners of Family Business and its parent, MLR Media, and David Shaw, our publishing director — worked with me to create a new role, editor-at-large. I’ll continue to contribute articles to Family Business and sister publication Private Company Director. I’ll manage special projects like “NextGens to Watch” and “CEOs to Watch.” I’ll assist with conference programming and general content development.

A new editor-in-chief of Family Business Magazine will be introduced soon — watch our weekly newsletter for the announcement in early January. That person will take over management of all day-to-day operations and will be the contact person for all editorial matters. I look forward to seeing new ideas unfold.

I’m excited about what lies on the horizon. And I’m thrilled to continue working for this wonderful organization and contributing to the growth and development of the field. I’m stepping back, but I’m not stepping away.

Copyright 2021 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.    

January/February 2021

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