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UFB Issue #017 Ghost Writers
October 09, 2003
"The key to family business success"

A free monthly e-zine with articles and tips from Family Business Experts who understand family values and business systems.

October 9, 2003 Issue #017 Family Business Experts

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In This Issue...

1. Our Managing Director Announces -

2. Business first family...Family first business

Shuttle Diplomacy - Leave It to the Pros

3. Best Practices

Ghost Writers and Family Business Histories

4. Around the Family Business Experts web sites


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1. Our Managing Director Announces -

No, the topic "ghost writers" isn't to announce a Hollowe'en sale...!

Much of what we do as consultants is focused on identifying and solving problems.

Our family / business section looks at problems we encounter when family system practices are used in the business. Trying to promote harmony at all costs, and using third parties to deliver confrontational messages are both family behaviors that can produce disastrous results in the family business. Read about how to handle and control each of these behaviors.

But we are sometimes able to work with essentially positive opportunities and we are pleased to be able to share one with you in this issue.

Using a ghost writer makes good sense for small to medium-sized family businesses. Learn about several situations where a seasoned ghost writer can present the family's best interests. Meet our own expert writer and see why family business histories with good story-telling have such a vital role to play for your family business.

Whether to contribute, challenge (or hopefully even praise) our newsletter, I encourage you to contact me directly Don, or our editor David.
Enjoy, and here's wishing you, your family, your clients... much success!

Don Schwerzler, Managing Director
Family Business Experts


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2. Business first family...Family first business:

Shuttle Diplomacy - Leave It to the Pros

One of Quentin Fleming's 7 Deadly Sins is failure to acknowledge that the business system requires different practices that the family system.

In March 2002 we dealt with the problem of imposing the family hierarchy in the business and in May 2002 with the problem of rewarding all children equally regardless of their contribution to the family business.

This month we look at two other closely related problems - avoiding disagreements by promoting harmony at all costs, and using third parties to deliver confrontational messages.

Avoiding Disagreements

When the family peacekeeper tries to maintain the illusion of family harmony in the business they tend to adopt one of two techniques - either don't address issues or placate conflicting members through job appointments. Both are counter-productive and potentially lethal in the family business.

Failing to address issues ensures that conflicts never go away. Over time they tend to amplify and become even more difficult to resolve.

Appointing people to jobs to placate their wishes rather than based on merit or ability produces a business with employees incompetent to perform the required tasks - a guaranteed recipe for disaster. The family business loses profit, has morale problems and could easily fail.


In the family, it can sometimes be acceptable for problems to be deferred and allowed to resolve slowly... you are a family member for life and there may be no other solution. But the family business has to face and resolve problems or risk losses and possibly total failure.

One of the most insidious problems we find is when confrontation simmers and is handled by involving third parties to carry the messages back and forth between the conflicting parties. Especially when the "intermediary" is an employee, several problems arise...

1. the real problem is never faced and resolved by the warring parties

2. the messages become confused and unclear as they pass back and forth

3. the intermediary is generally associated as being on one side or the other and ends up being blamed for failure

4. if the intermediary is an employee, he usually can't say "no" and thus can't escape the stressful process; and it can start rivalries and conflicts amongst other employees

5. few, if any, businesses can afford the luxury of carrying employees with nothing better to do that being a shuttle diplomat for family problems.

So, what's the alternative?

Use an independent third-party such as Family Business Experts. [fbe contact link] One who has the independence to walk away and to say to the parties "enough." One with the strength and training and experience to stand up to the parties and bring them face to face, to broker a resolution by dealing with the issues rather than shuttling messages back and forth, which only prolongs the conflict.

Read about Fleming's 7 Deadly Sins and other useful insights into families and family businesses.


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3. Best Practices

Ghost Writers and Family Business Histories

Using a ghost writer makes good sense for small and medium sized family businesses. Don Schwerzler, our Managing Director and Phil Bellury, our professional writing expert, were recently discussing ghost writing and made some very interesting points.

Experienced business writer

First is the need for your ghost writer to be an experienced business writer in order to understand and draw on the family business' vision, mission and business plan and present the family interests in the best light.

Besides the obvious tedious tasks of writing copy for sales and marketing and other business areas, the family business should consider a ghost writer for projects like proposal letters, employee newsletters, online newsletters, advertising copy writing, and creating a company legacy with family business histories.

Fresh perspective

A ghost writer should be an excellent editor and can bring a fresh perspective in presenting the family business to employees, customers, suppliers and the community.

Family Business Histories

Why do a family business history?

How your company came into being, the vision of the founder(s), how the company overcame the inevitable changes and challenges through the years, the contributions the company has made to the community… all add up to a great story. And not just a story for your children at bedtime. People in your company, others in your industry, and the community at large all benefit from a deeper knowledge and understanding of your company’s heritage.

There are many reasons to create a formal history.

A few of the more important are: Founder’s Vision and Mission; Historical Accuracy; Honoring Longtime Employees; Thanking Customers and Vendors; and Background for the Uninformed.

Are there benefits? Sure are!

- “set the record straight” and document forever how and why a business came to be...

- acknowledge and honor the hard work and perseverance...

- document the interdependence between the company and community...

- enhance the understanding of the legacy that has been inherited ...better equipped to articulate it

- builds a sense of confidence to those who become a part of the company’s history

- process can be unifying and fun

- enhances the company’s image and reputation

- Content can be repurposed for other media

- Most importantly, family businesses who produce a quality history book or video have something tangible, something to that will always be valued and treasured. When you create a family history, you establish a lasting and true legacy for future generations.

Getting started? Follow these steps...

First, hire an experienced writer. There are writers, even publishing houses, that specialize in writing and producing family business histories. FBE's expert in this field, Phil Bellury, has for many years helped family businesses create history books and videos. Phil began his career as a business journalist and, after writing marketing and public relations copy for several family businesses, finally wrote and published his first family business history in the early 1990's. Today he has a dozen or more histories under his belt.

Designate an internal coordinator or team.

Find a book packaging company.

Develop a distribution strategy.

Organize a celebration.

Follow up.

Read the whole article in 5 minutes here.

4. Around the Family Business Experts web sites

Search the entire content site in two different ways

1. A search engine powered by ATOMZ has indexed all the pages on the site and will link you to those relating to any search term you enter.

2. A 'Table of contents' listing that will link you directly to any page / article you select. Use the Site Map Navigation Button from any major page on the site.

Check out our latest on Ghost Writing and Family Business Histories.

Background information, testimonials to our service and understanding, and answers to FAQ's [Frequently Asked Questions]. Family Business Experts

There are new articles accessible from this page on the left side navigation bar. Check out our latest on Ghost Writing.

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