Panay News

‘Why are we in business together?’


IWANT to raise the issue to all family-owning businesses...Why are you in business together with your siblings? Is it purely because of blood and money? Many skeptics are questionin­g inspired by German philosophe­r the survivabil­ity of family firms Friedrich Nietzsche’s line, “He in Asia and have started asking who has a ‘ why’ to live for can bear whether c r eating enduring almost any ‘how.’” companies under a patriarcha­l Fra n k l u n d e r s t o o d t h a t culture is really possible. everything can be seized from a

The answer is a resounding yes, man except his freedom to choose but the ultimate test lies in having his attitude, even under extreme a compelling and powerful sense distress. “We cannot avoid suffering, of purpose. but we can choose how to cope

Let me share a brief story of with it, find meaning in it, and move Austrian neurologis­t Viktor Frankl forward with renewed purpose.” ( 1905- 1997), who survived the As he put it, “Life is never made Holocaust and wrote the bestsellin­g unbearable by circumstan­ces, book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” but only by lack of meaning and

In that book, Frankl highlighte­d purpose.” a very i mportant point – that the most powerful motivation for humans is the drive to find meaning in life. He survived three years at the infamous Auschwitz concentrat­ion camp in 1942 under the wretched hopelessne­ss of the brutal environmen­t and was

‘ Why are we together?’

i n business

“No matter whether you are a company, a family, or an individual,” says Sammy Lee, a fourth generation member of the 134-year-old global sauce giant Lee Kum Kee aspiring to reach 1,000 years. “You need to find the ‘ why’ in life. Because whatever you do, you have to find your mission or purpose. Our mission is to be a role model in the business, helping the family and sharing. And we are here to represent the Chinese in making history!”

For P r o f . De n n i s J a f f e , one of the pioneers in “family enterprise” consulting, each succeeding generation requires an increasing­ly sophistica­ted vision and dedication. “A generative family isn’t just a bunch of cousins who like each other. They are stewards of an extensive portfolio of assets,” he says. “Cousins have to get to know each other, and they have to decide what they want from their assets and how to manage them. In the second generation or third generation, the family builds an organizati­on, representi­ng all family members who choose to work together. They develop a representa­tive group – a family council – and other task forces or workgroups to organize their activities.”

For multifamil­y enterprise­s s t r u g g l i n g t o f i n d m e a n i n g in their existence and still hoping against hope to continue the legacy of its founders, finding the “why” will define your longevity as it is a cause greater than oneself.

As Willem Van Eeghen explained, “Longevity is not a guarantee, it’s something that you really have to fight for and every generation has to do it.”

The Van Eeghen Group is no stranger to change. Founded in 1662, the family firm started its life as a commodity trading company and changed its strategy and moved into niche food markets and has kept that approach up to the present day.

I n c l o s i n g , t h e f a m i l y business’ i nfluential “why” i s the bedrock for enduring family firms. The answers are crucial as every family goes through a turbulent period of generation­al change. As organizati­ons pursue longevity, the challenge i s on how they can codify, design, and bring to life a family- centric governance structure that anticipate­s family, business, ownership, and succession issues.

March 26 marked Victor Frankl’s birthday and the quote below constantly serves as a wakeup call for families to start the governance journey:

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”/

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