The Family.Inc Newsletter - The Basics

Newsletter No. 7 – February 23rd, 2024
Written by a human. 

"Berkshire was built on the eternal verities: basic mathematics, basic horse sense, basic fear, and basic diagnosis of human nature to make predictions regarding human behavior. We stuck to the basics with a certain amount of discipline and it has worked out quite well."

It can be difficult to appreciate just how much avoiding the standard ways of failing dramatically increases the odds of success. (1)

In the realm of families-in-business and families-of-wealth, this statement rings true.

I often feel like I am in the movie Groundhog Day; different family, same script.

So, what are the standard ways of failing dramatically and how can you increase your odds of success?

Here are just a few:

1. Starting too late.

Whether it’s succession planning or estate planning, getting started in the 11th hour is a recipe for failure. At my family’s company, Sargento Foods, we started succession planning for my generation decades before the next transition. This gave us a runway to plan, support, and evaluate the next generation.

2. Failing to build psychological safety.

This is so important for a family. You need to build a family system in which members feels safe enough to challenge, contradict, and disagree. If you don’t have safety, you can’t communicate effectively and poor decisions are inevitable.

3. Choosing quantity over quality.

Quantity of communications is not the same as quality. After you’ve built psychological safety, you need to have meaningful conversation about things that truly matter and how each family member is impacted.

4. Failing to build a system.

Whether it’s your family, family business, or family office, you need to codify the agreements you’ve come up with as a family and also have an agreement on how you’re going to enforce those agreements.

While these four items are just the start, if worked on, they will increase your chances of multi-generational success. Not because of the outcomes you reach in each area, but because you, as a family, took the time to work on them. It’s the process that produces the positive results.

(1) Farnam Street Media Inc. (2024, January 7). Overlooked Advantage. FS.Blog. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from

– Josh Gentine

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