Chapter 1The Founder as the Sun

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

—Galileo Galilei

The gravitational pull of the sun caused the formation of the planets and set their orbits. Though planets are of different sizes and chemical makeup, some orbit quickly, some slowly, and some even appear to move backward. The system formed and remains in existence only because of the sun.

A basic truth—the planets revolve around the sun—took many thousands of years to become a commonly accepted perspective. Geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center of the universe, dominated human thinking for thousands of years. We now know, of course, that without the sun at the outset no planets would have formed, and without the sun now the planets would drift into oblivion. Many advisory firms seem to operate in a similar manner: They arose and continue to work because of the founder, and without the founder the company would blow apart. But is what is true and necessary for our solar system the proper model?

The Evolution of a Founder-Centric Firm

It's easy to understand how founder-centric firms developed in the independent advisory space. They are the evolutionary result of the way in which many independent firms had to operate and grow to stay alive. The development trajectory of most independent firms is similar. In many cases, the founders graduated from college or advanced degree programs and landed at large corporations. In their younger ...

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