No Beef with this Family Resemblance

A Roadside Billboard Creates a Paternal Flashback

My Dad was a very key figure in my life until he lost his battle with cancer way back in 2008.  

Much of the work that I now do with business families emanates from the fact that I was born into the family business that he founded before I was born.

I think about him often, and share some of his more memorable sayings at every opportunity.

But last week, while driving down the highway, I saw a billboard that made me recall something he was passionate about.

It was an ad for Quebec beef. 


A Man Who Was Always Ahead of His Time

Even before the liquidity event of selling the operations of our steel fabrication business, Dad had bought a farm about an hour away from the city, which was something we all knew that he would do someday.

If you are picturing a typical gentleman farmer, you’re partly correct, but you could never put it that way to him.

See Folksy Steve and the Gentleman Farmer

He took an interest in beef cattle, and even though he was new to the game, he dove in and quickly became the go-to cattleman in the area.

Thanks to his newfound passion project, I was able to learn about all sorts of things I never cared to know, like scrotal circumference and why the vet needs to wear arm-length gloves on both hands to do artificial insemination.

But he also saw the big picture for the industry, and was always trying to advance things, including creating a brand for Quebec beef.

Perhaps it was an idea whose time had not yet come, but seeing the billboard featuring an idea he had a couple of decades ago got me into reflection mode.


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

A few weeks ago in From Multidisciplinary Field to Interdisciplinary Ecosystem I noted a bit of jealousy that I have towards the younger colleagues in my professional network, because they will benefit from the advancements of our work more than I will ever be able to.

Despite my coming to this work relatively late in life, I have seen a number of advances in how the families behind the enterprise are finally getting more of their due, in terms of how we professionals serve them.

If anything, it seems like this is an idea whose time has come, and the industry is still trying to come to grips with how to best serve these families, and not just their businesses.

I have been evangelizing about this in this space and elsewhere for about a decade now, but I had never realized that I was following in the footsteps of my Dad until I drove past that beef billboard.


If He Could See Me Now

Perhaps it’s because it’s the holiday season as I write this, but I wonder what he would think about the work that I’m doing.

About five years ago, in No Dad, Coaching Is Not “Helping Losers” I noted that his grasp about what coaching is and what it isn’t wasn’t exactly firm.

I would hope that he would be glad that I finally found the kind of work that I enjoy and do well, in service of families who can use my guidance to become even better than they already are, as opposed to being losers.

No Beef with this Family Resemblance


The Billboard My Kids Will See 15 Years After I’m Gone

Now I’m trying to imagine what the equivalent to that billboard will be for my kids to see a decade and a half after I die.

This work is very much a niche and the vast majority of people will never actually “get” what I do, but at least the professionals who work with business families will be fully on board with the importance of serving the family members, and not just the businesses they own together.

I suppose that we may then be at what some may call “Wealth 4.0”, as an outgrowth of the Wealth 3.0 that I mentioned a few weeks back in Do Family Businesses Really Fail by the 3rd Generation?

I know that the organisations that I’m a part of are all continuing to evolve in their own ways. 

Whether it’s the Purposeful Planning Institute, Family Enterprise Canada, or the Family Firm Institute, none of them are standing still, and each is trying to keep up with the evolution of the work we’re doing with families.

And like Dad, I guess I’ll continue to try to do my own work with them, and play an important role.