Succession Secrets



Daily bite-size life lessons and insights, from Succession Coach, Entrepreneur, former Investment Banker and Father of Four.


  • 086 Your Socratic Friend

    11/05/2018 Duração: 06min

    How friends differ from flatterers and how business coaches differ from friends. Includes a plug for my favorite podcast, Philosophise This, by Steven West.

  • 085 The One Silver Bullet

    04/05/2018 Duração: 12min

    They say there is no silver bullet, but I think I may have stumbled upon an exception, when it comes to creating scalable businesses. Check out this week's episode.

  • 084 Are You Weak on Sales or Attraction

    25/04/2018 Duração: 05min

    In today's episode, I lament about the strategy of an IT resource placement company I recently met, which is selling itself to contractor candidates on the "strength" of its benefit packages.  Listen to the show to find out how successful this strategy has proved to be and what could help them, as well as you del listener, to reposition yourself in the eyes of future employees. (Hint: the Entrepreneurial Operating System is a good tool to leverage to this end too.)

  • 083 - High Expectations Work

    08/10/2016 Duração: 07min

    We had some fierce conversations about my daughter’s pondering whether to drop a class with which she may have overreached. My wife gave her a hard time about it, which I felt was perhaps unreasonable. However, it reminded me of Sam Walton, Walmart’s founder, who stated that “High Expectations are the Key to Everything”. Remember Steve Jobs? he wasn’t exactly a nice guy, as he had unreasonable expectations all the time. It was super-hard to work for him, but he changed the world and built the greatest company on Earth. There are other examples, like Napoleon or Cezar, whose ambitions killed millions, but who says they were not great leaders? Tune into today’s show to hear my musings about what great expectations led to in my own company and how to set (or why avoid setting) great expectations to yourself, your family and the people around you. How do YOU set expectations? Please tweet #asksuccessionsteve or email me at [email protected]. Visit Us:

  • 082 - Three Ways to Exert Leadership

    06/10/2016 Duração: 08min

    I received a question from Christos Nikolau the other day about the difference between Leadership and Coaching. Thanks for the questions Christos!  Leadership is the action of influencing people to achieve goals. Coaching is one of the ways to exert this leadership. In today’s episode, I am discussing the three ways to exert leadership. The first one is Modeling, where you are leading people by setting a personal example of the attitudes and performance that you expect them to emulate. This works well in the workplace or in your family, where people see you operating. It also works when you are visible through the media, and we emulate celebrities, artists, and politicians, for better or worse. This is why we need leaders that we can look up to and that are worth emulating. George Washington, Gandhi and Angela Merkel are good examples.  Coaching is a tool to help individuals or groups to figure things out themselves the right way forward. It is the Socratic method of leadership that allows you to influence ot

  • 081 - Selling in a falling market

    04/10/2016 Duração: 08min

    Tune in to the story of how we sold a communications business in late 2008, when the bottom fell out of the mergers and acquisitions market. Hint: it was not about strong-arm tactics and yes, speed was a HUGE factor.

  • 080 - The Spouse Behind the Sale

    18/08/2016 Duração: 08min

    When you are a buyer of a business or an investment banker, it is critical to figure out the motivation of the seller. In today's episode, I tell the story of the reluctant seller, whose spouse was driving the transaction that he wasn't committed to make happen.   Eventually, the deal worked out great for the seller and there are two lessons in this tale worth hearing and processing.   Your succession is success!

  • 079 - A More Compelling Future

    13/08/2016 Duração: 08min

    There are three main triggers for the succession of the business owner: (1) necessity, (2) an irresistible offer, and my favorite: (3) a more compelling future. In today’s episode, I tell the story of a former client of mine, Csaba Kovacs, a Hall of Fame hockey player (not in the NHL, but still a Big Deal) who initiated his exit to realize a much bigger dream, that was to benefit not just him, his family and his associates, but his country. He sold his business to devote his time and energy to becoming the deputy chairman of the Hungarian Hockey Association and help elevate Hungarian Ice Hockey from Division C to the Elite Division of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Check to listen to the show or read the transcripts and learn how having a compelling future can help you build a more valuable business, exit it at peek valuation and use it as a springboard to an audacious dream. Your succession is success!

  • 078 - Smart and Lazy People

    11/08/2016 Duração: 11min

    One of my favorite books is “On War” from an early 19th century Prussian general, Claus von Clausewitz.  This is possibly the most famous book on military strategy after “Art of War”, that most of you have heard of.  In his book Clausewitz talks about grouping officers into four clusters in terms of their intelligence and diligence. There are the dumb and lazy officers, who should be left alone. The smart and diligent officers must be taken great care of, as they will get everything done and make you look good.  The dumb and diligent ones are dangerous and should be fired or pushed aside, as they screw everything up. However, the smart and lazy officers are destined for the highest positions in the army… The smart and lazy ones - this is what today’s podcast show is about. Tune in to hear my story about a smart and lazy colleague of mine and how he made a stellar career at KPMG London, where I started my career. Find out how to become a smart and lazy entrepreneur yourself and what it means to your succ

  • 077 - Chief Enabling Officer

    09/08/2016 Duração: 08min

    One of my clients, who runs a major advertising agency in Richmond, introduced himself to our Vistage CEO peer group as the “Chief Enabling Officer”. In today’s episode, I share with you a story about one of my early bosses, Hassan, who was a Chief Enabling Officer of the Structured Finance department of the bank where I worked 20 years ago. Hassan never seemed to be doing much work himself, other than coaching the twelve of us in the department... lobbying senior management for resources... negotiating with other departments we had to deal with... and generally removing any obstacles from our way... so that we could power ahead without the frustrations and frictions I experienced in my previous jobs Tune into today’s Succession Secrets show to hear this story, or just scan the transcripts on Your Succession is Success!

  • 076 - Pick One You Trust and Trust Them

    06/08/2016 Duração: 16min

    In today’s episode, I am sharing two stories from my time as an investment banker. The first is about a large construction company, where the owners got greedy and second-guessed their advisor. The second is a company where the seller had complete confidence in us.  As you may have guessed it, these two deals turned out very differently. Listen to my stories making the case that if you cannot trust your investment banker, you should not hire him or her. Do your due diligence up front and make a decision only when you have found the right candidate. It is a critical decision, as all things being equal, the quality of the negotiations on your behalf is directly correlated to the level of trust you are willing to invest into your advisor relationship. Check out the show or the transcript at Your succession (and trust) is your success!

  • 075 - Leave No Room for Excuses

    04/08/2016 Duração: 09min

    Can you recall the life and death Hungary-Portugal soccer game at the Euro 2016 championships?  After Hungary snatched the lead the third time with a goal bouncing off a defender, Cristiano Ronaldo was caught on camera in a fit of frustration. This scene was circulated on the internet as “evidence” of Ronaldo being a “spoilt” star who cannot control himself. Check the video on Youtube: I drew the opposite conclusion.   Listen to the show, or read the transcripts, to learn why it was a sign of Cristiano’s brilliance and how this attitude helps him be a champion, which he and the Portugal national side ultimately became.     Your succession is success!

  • 074 - Become Your Own Client

    02/08/2016 Duração: 07min

    A client of mine who owns a business development consulting firm has recently found his pipeline drying up. It looked like a case of the “cobbler’s son going barefoot”, as his employees were stretched thin servicing clients and claimed to have had no time left to drum up business. We brainstormed different solutions until we arrived at the conclusion. He had to become his own client. Listen to today’s show to learn the details of our finding and how that strategy can fix my client’s lagging sales effort. Thank you for listening. If you have a question about succession (in the broad sense), please tweet it to #asksuccessionsteve or email it to [email protected]. Your succession is success!

  • 073 - The Constructive Role of Procrastination

    30/07/2016 Duração: 10min

    Procrastination, the action of postponing or delaying something that needs to be accomplished, is generally seen as a negative habit, that we should all try to kick. Psychologist attribute it to perfectionism, laziness, distraction and other negative factors. However, I have found procrastination to affect almost everyone to some extent, even diligent and disciplined people. In today’s episode, I am making the case that procrastination may be a useful activity that allows us to get things done. I have identified 5 things that procrastination allows us to have, all of which help performance. Tune into the show or read the transcripts and let me know what you think of my theory. Your succession is success!

  • 072 - The Cost of Not Creating Succession

    28/07/2016 Duração: 08min

    Many ask me why “succession” is such a big deal. You will take care of it when you want to retire or sell the business. And what if you just want to work into the sunset? In today’s episode, I share with you the six most important reasons why it is a fatal mistake to neglect succession. Some of these reasons will surprise you, especially the last one.    

  • 071 - Three Ways to Value a Business

    26/07/2016 Duração: 08min

    We used to make elaborate valuations to clients, sometimes using 6-8 different methods to value a business.  Some clients need this sophistication and are willing to pay for it. However, there are really three main ways to value a business. The first one is the market-based valuation. Based on a multiple of a metric, which could be revenue, net profit, EBIT (Earnings before Interest and Tax) and most frequently EBITDA (EBIT plus Depreciation and Amortization). EBITDA is the best proxy for cash flow and banks and private equity groups love it.   The second method is the discounted cash flow based valuation, which determines the value of the business as the sum of the present values of its projected future cash flows. This is relevant when higher than the market value. The third way is replacement cost valuation, which works as a sanity check for the investor, to make sure they don’t overpay.    

  • 070 - Growth is Where the Discomfort is

    23/07/2016 Duração: 05min

    Had a great session with one of my Vistage members this morning. We reflected on the last meeting, which she thought was one of the best… while I thought it was a disaster… (check out episode 053).  I came to realize that that for any of our meeting to be worthwhile, there must be some drama or conflict happening. We learn nothing if we are just nice and courteous and don’t bank heads or confront each other.   Personal growth requires stretching ourselves, which is uncomfortable. Tune into the show or check out the transcripts at  Your succession is success! 

  • 069 - Ways to Pay a Purchase Price

    20/07/2016 Duração: 11min

    There is an investment banking proverb which says: “You can name your price if I am allowed to name my terms.” The purchase price for a business can be paid in different forms allowing the buyer to save cash and share some of the risks of the business with the seller. The most common is of course cash, but it's rare that 100% is paid up front. Typically 10-30% of a cash price is held in escrow to secure the indemnities the seller is willing to grant to support their representations and warranties in the sale and purchase agreement. Next up is a seller note and IOU issued by the company or the buyer, promising to pay a fix, non-contingent purchase price amount to the seller upon repayment of other acquisition debt. Common is SBA financing deals. Tune into the show to learn about the other 3 main forms purchase price takes in mergers and acquisition and business brokerage transactions. Read the transcripts at  Your succession is success.

  • 068 - Explosive Family Transition

    19/07/2016 Duração: 06min

    Last week at a Charlotte Vistage seminar a colleague of mine told us a story of a family business transition that was potentially explosive. The founder bequeathed a family business to his son and daughter, who became equal shareholders. The founder’s son took over running the business while his daughter stayed out of the company and continued her career. In a few years, the business was doubled in size and tripled its profits. When the founder got sick, my friend got into an uncomfortable position. He wanted to buy out his sister before their father would die. Listen to today’s episode to find out what happened to this family and how certain entrepreneurs handle family transitions. Read the transcripts at Your succession is success.   Visit Us:

  • 067 - Let Your Cash Flow Build Your Business

    18/07/2016 Duração: 06min

    I am surprised to see the number of loans and financing offers banks and lending companies issue to small business owners.  And when those businesses start to make a profit, venture capital companies jump into the fray. It is not money these start-ups need but talent and time to create a differentiated service that is able to gain traction in the marketplace. Large successful companies like Google often spin off entrepreneurial talent supported by minimal resources to let them experiment at low cost and develop something marketable.   In fact, it is often much easier for a small business to be profitable, as the low-paid founders wear multiple hats and work around the clock. Tune into today’s show about starting a business and why it’s not about the money.   Your succession is success!  

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