Past Newsletters

Giving Thanks in the Time of Coronavirus

Friends: As this Thanksgiving approaches, I suspect that many are wrestling with reconciling the disturbing events of this very unusual year, with the expression of gratitude called for on this special holiday. Helpful perspective might be had from stories shared by friends who have been through hospice training. At some point during their training, each…
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Is There A Medic on your Team?

We find ourselves using the word “risk” all too commonly in our pandemic reality, but in any context, risk—the possibility of something bad happening—has two characteristics: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative risk is measured by the probability that the bad thing may or may not happen. The measure of qualitative risk, on the other hand, assumes…
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On the Importance of Choosing Words

Many years ago I read an article by the conservative columnist, George Will, which has always stayed with me. It began with a parable, roughly as follows: A monk and his abbot are in a monastery walking to the chapel for afternoon prayers. The monk reaches under his robe for his cigarettes and asks the…
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Sibling Rivalry in the Second-Generation Family Business

Sibling rivalry is a complex phenomenon. It has been observed in the animal world since the beginning of time and has been captured in the written word at least as far back as the book of Genesis. For an enjoyable, historic perspective, read “Sibling Rivalry, a History” by Peter Toohey, The Atlantic, 30 Nov. 2014.…
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So…What Have You Learned on the Trip?

A single woman I once knew, an attorney, had a theory about the process of finding Mr. Right. As dating relationships started to become serious, she made it a habit to schedule adventure filled vacations with her beau. They were not of the comfortable type. Her belief was that if you can vacation with someone…
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No Time for Clicking of Heels

In the closing scenes of The Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good tells the despairing Dorothy to click her heels together three times, while repeating, “there’s no place like home,” … and she will find herself there. In short order, Dorothy is magically transported back to Kansas and awakens from what Auntie Em and Uncle…
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Elements of Leadership

The responses of the administration and governors of the many states to the COVID crisis has put the subject of leadership under a microscope. What might family businesses learn from the lessons playing out during this crisis? Many patriarchs and matriarchs of first-generation family businesses struggle over the issue of who in the next generation…
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Stradivarius as Hammer

The Defense Production Act (“DPA” or “Act”) provides the President of the United States with the authority to direct civilian businesses to facilitate the acquisition of “materials, components and equipment” during a period of national emergency for the purpose of meeting orders necessary for the national defense. On March 18th, the President announced that he…
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Counseling in the Time of COVID-19

Some subset of The Owl’s Nest readership has had practice counseling clients in distressed situations where business turnaround has been the objective. Though the COVID crisis represents a unique challenge, one of the tools common to turnaround specialists is as relevant to today’s global business crisis as it is to routine turnaround necessitated by poor…
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What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate.

This month’s title is borrowed from the warden’s speech in the iconic film, Cool Hand Luke (1967), as the warden sadistically tries to tame Paul Newman’s character in one of Newman’s most indelible performances as petty criminal, Luke Jackson, serving time on a Florida prison farm. Every parent and every child experience a failure to…
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Happy New Year – Another Pass Around the Sun

The quiet time between cycles can be an opportunity for growth and renewal… especially true for family-owned enterprises. Man has numerous ways to express the passage of time. Nonetheless, all are anchored by the time it takes our planet to make one revolution around the sun. All other measures are sub-units of this predictable, grander,…
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Developmentally Appropriate Dysfunction

Remember the days when supermarket delivery was not commonplace? Remember when parents with two-year-old’s in tow waited in cue in the checkout aisle where far too many tempting choices could prompt their toddler’s meltdown? It still happens: The scene usually has the child lying prone on the floor demanding some shiny object and being disagreeable…
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