The Business Transition Blog

The Gathering

At this time of year there are lots of soppy movies about Christmas and family, redemption and forgiveness. Some are inspiring and some are just bad. I don’t usually watch them, but The Gathering caught my attention, perhaps because Ed Asner was the star and I like him as an actor.

The movie could be summed up as follows:

  • Grumpy old entrepreneur father is told he has a 60-90 days to live.
  • His business was always more important than his family so he is estranged from his wife and children.
  • He hasn’t seen his adult children in years and doesn’t even have their contact info.
  • He wants to make amends before he dies.
  • His wife talks all the kids into coming home for Christmas – even the wayward son who is a draft dodger, moved to Canada, doesn’t have a phone but does have a pet moose.(?!)
  • In spite of past wrongs and strained relationships, they all have a good time and vow to get together more often. (Dad doesn’t reveal the elephant.)

All very sad and heart-tugging. The acting is pretty good. But then Dad does something really stupid. He invites his MBA son-in-law who has failed at running his own small business and his wayward son to come into his successful business and run it. Arghhh!!

Stupid but unfortunately, not unrealistic. Emotional decisions tend to trump logical decisions when it comes to family and business.

Clearly Dad didn’t have a business transition plan nor had he spent any time thinking about the long term health of his business. And now it is too late.

The statistics on companies passed on to the next generation are pretty dismal and yet many entrepreneurs would still like their children to carry on the business, regardless of their abilities, their interests or motivations. In cases like that, I feel sorry for everyone – the children, the rest of the family, the employees and if mom or dad are relying on the ongoing success of the business for their retirement income – for them. The biggest winners in that situation are probably the lawyers.

You can see the wayward son coming home here:

Merry Christmas!