Acta est fabula
ME PoV Spring 2015 issue
Leaving a legacy is more than bequeathing the ownership of a family business to one’s successors and expecting them to carry on the family name
History books are littered with names of people who have left a legacy, be it good or bad. Whether taken to mean the transfer of one’s values and beliefs or the more materialistic definition of leaving assets, legacies invariably aim to benefit one’s family or society as a whole.
Similarly, most business founders aspire to leave a legacy in the form of the continuation of the family name. The onus rests on the heirs and successors to support and maintain this legacy. Asking the successors what this entails, and whether they know what the family name actually stands for invariably reveals conflicting viewpoints. And as always, there are two sides to every story.
Ask the legatees why they are uncertain about carrying on the family legacy and you will undoubtedly get at least one of the following answers: our parents take us for granted, our parents fail to listen to us, or our parents live in their own bubble.
Ask the founders why such a mismatch in expectations exists, and inevitably the response will be one of the following: our children do not appreciate the suffering it took for us to reach this stage, “the West” has polluted our children’s minds with gadgets and so-called “modernization” or “our children have other priorities1.”