One day not long ago I was speaking to someone who had organized a “maker space”, which is a place where kids and teens can go to play around with stuff and make things. With 3-D printing becoming more mainstream, these spots are starting to pop up in various places.

During our discussion, it became clear that the people who run these types of operations are very cooperative with each other and like to help each other out by sharing what works for them.

I found myself combining a couple of metaphors into my explanation of what was going on. “You’re not trying to corner the market, you’re spreading the gospel”, I summarized. He agreed.

The next day somebody was explaining his current project to me over lunch. He was involved with a group of people that were developing an accreditation process for a particular type of professional, which does not yet exist.

He mentioned that they were collaborating with other organisations in other areas and that that was quite helpful to the cause. I found myself saying to him, “Well yeah, you’re not trying to corner the market, you’re trying to spread the gospel.” He also agreed.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I find myself uttering the same phrase two days in a row in two completely different circumstances, I remember it. I started to think that I might be on to something.

It seems to me that there are more and more people who are working at spreading gospels than cornering markets these days. Is it just my imagination?

Maybe it is because I am now involved in a service business and not selling a product. Maybe it is the social networks that I am plugged into. Maybe it is society with more Gen Y’s entering the workforce who work more collaboratively.

My father used to tell me that his father used to tell him that you can carry more sand in your hands with both your palms open than you can with clenched fists. For me, open and transparent has always been a more comfortable way to do things, so spreading the gospel is a much easier way for me to live my life.

The gospel that is now driving me is all about family business. They are very different from other businesses. There are no two the same. That makes them interesting to me.

But the more of them I see, the more I see missed opportunities. The fact that you have a business and a family interacting can have so many positives, but just as many negatives.

I feel like I can see the negatives so clearly sometimes and that I can help families to take the steps necessary to avoid some of the negatives and even turn some of the negatives into positives.

I will try to spread the gospel of getting business families to recognize that they need to look at their families separately from their businesses. Too many people concentrate so much on the business to the detriment of the family.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe they just need someone to point it out to them. But few people from inside the family are comfortable doing that.

I will not try to “corner the market”, since there seems to be plenty of work to be done. I will try to spread the gospel that stepping back and looking at the family as a family should not be overlooked. Who is with me?

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.