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A Love Note to the Ladies in Business

Whether you’re taking over a multi-generational family business or you’re building a family business currently in its first generation, there are a few statistics that I think are helpful to understand.

First, Family Businesses make up two thirds of all businesses worldwide. We contribute up to 90% of global GDP and we employ the majority of the world's workforce.  And yet. Only about 30% of those family businesses survive a transition into the second generation. Only 12% make it into the third generation. And only 3% (!!), make it on to the fourth generation and beyond. 

Now I’d like to invite you to take a minute to sit with these numbers. 

Read them again. 

Let them sink in.

We have a sustainability problem in Family Business.

Now, I’d like to share a couple more statistics to layer onto that. According to Cornell University and their college of business, 60% of family businesses have women in top management positions. That’s exponentially higher than the Fortune 1000 average of 2.5% –  and yet. Only 31% of family businesses are considering a female successor in the future – and only about 24% of family businesses have a female CEO or President. 

Now let’s let those numbers sink in.

Because if we have a sustainability problem in Family Business…

We really have a problem with the support & sustainability of Women in Family Business. 

Now, I’m not here to suggest that there is a single cause for these numbers. It’s a multi-faceted issue to be sure. But I would be remiss if I didn’t name what I see, know, and have personally experienced as a woman talking over her own family’s 6th Generation business. 

Ladies, the truth of the matter is that there are not a lot of truly aligned & accessible role models for us in the world. 

When I took over my family business, I spent a lot of years trying to do things exactly the way they'd been done in previous generations. Which, to be honest, was a whole lot of old white guys. (Old white guys I love deeply, don’t get me wrong, but still…) 

Then I came along. And at first I did everything just like they did. Because “that’s how it’s always been done.” And “I don’t want to rock the boat.” And “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” 

Can anybody relate? (Just kidding. I’ve talked to so many family business owners, I know most of you can relate!)

But, here’s the thing – as delightfully diverse human beings, we all have our own unique style and energy and strengths as leaders! And trying to be just a carbon copy of someone before us or unquestioningly repeating what we were raised with generally doesn't end up feeling genuinely authentic or aligned. 

It becomes unsustainable – sometimes very quickly.

When I took over our family business, I had several good years of NO boat rocking. But in 2017 I started to realize that, while the company was continuing to do well, I was becoming deeply depleted. And, as a result, I was really struggling to get any kind of creative vision for the company moving forward.

Imagine you’re a juggler. Maybe you’re a GREAT juggler. Like the kind that can juggle 5-6 balls at once and you amazing everyone by keeping them all in the air.

Now. Imagine that while you’re in the middle of your juggling act, someone asks you to invent a new juggling act: with new patterns, new props, and maybe a whole new style of performance. 

Can you do this while you’re using all of your time & energy to make sure that you don’t drop a single one of the balls that you’re already juggling? Of course not.

But, for women in business, this is often exactly what we’re trying to do. We may feel the pull to create, innovate, transform & evolve — but we’re so darn conditioned to feel responsible for keeping all of those existing balls in the air that changing directions or patterns is basically impossible.

Until, that is, we allow ourselves to stop juggling. Even for just a minute. And create some space for ourselves and what wants to be created next.

Now, you may be asking yourself. “Sure. That’s all good and well, but HOW are we supposed to do that?”

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that you’re going to have to figure that out for yourself. 

Yes, there are a million “productivity gurus” who will tell you that you just need to get up at 4am and meditate so you only need 4 hours of sleep a night to do it all, but guess what? That doesn’t work for everyone! This is not a one-size-fits-all-solution. I’m sorry. There’s no life-hacking your way out of this. You’re the one who knows yourself the best and you’re the one who will find the best path forward. (Really, you will!)

And now for the good news.

(Are you ready? Drum roll…)

We don't actually need to do it alone. 

What if … when you stop juggling, the balls don’t come crashing to the floor because you have someone there to step in and help you hold them?

I know that for a lot of us growing up and family businesses, we come from long lines of “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” people. Which I get. We figure sh*t out. We’re good at it. We know this.

But here’s what I also know. 

Some of the most rapid and exponential growth that I have experienced as a family business owner has been in community – and more specifically, deeply intentional community. 

By moving yourself into the proximity of folks who are having the conversations that you desire and are talking about the things that resonate with you – even if they don't have all the answers – is creating an ecosystem of support, alignment, & growth.

This is how we start moving the needle. Little by little. And over time, you will be able to look back in awe & wonder at how far you’ve come.

So, if that’s the goal energetically, what might that look like logistically?

Well, to be honest, one of the easiest ways to get started is to move closer into my work, because this is exactly what I care about doing in the world. Creative supportive community for women in family business. (And if you find somebody else who's doing it, let me know, because I totally want to high-five them! I'm all for Team Family Business.)   

The other simple step you can take is to sign up for my newsletter, because I will be sharing additional thoughts and information every single week. And on the 4th Friday of every month, you'll get a really beautiful, deeply curated email full of additional resources, guided meditations, daily practices, book recommendations, playlists, and more to help support you even further! (Just go to and sign up on the pop-up.)

And last (but not least) sharing it with other folks that you know. Specifically, folks who are in business, like you. 

The old systems &  patterns in business try to make us feel like we’re in competition all of the time, but, what if that’s not actually true? What if there’s actually plenty of space for all of us? 

How much more would we learn, expand, and grow?

Let’s find out.

Try reaching out to a friend this week and say “Hey! I've been listening to this podcast (or reading this really cool blog post ;) and I was wondering if you'd be interested in listening to an episode and then getting together for coffee to talk about it?” 

Be intentional in your connections. Engage with some new & interesting material together. Listen to each others’ thoughts, dreams & ideas. It's been my experience that I just end up being surprised and delighted by the things that come out of intentional conversation with folks who are interested in the same things that I'm interested in. 

Maybe this week give it a try. And let me know how it goes! 



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