Chapter 2Replacing the Sun: A New Solar System

The conductor of an orchestra doesn't make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.

—Benjamin Zander

Remember when you passed your driver's test and received your license? It was an indescribable feeling of joy, freedom, fear, and excitement all rolled into one. This is the feeling many successors have as they take over a firm from a founder or group of founders. Removing the founder from the day-to-day operations of the firm has an emotional impact on everyone involved: the founder, successor, employees, community partners, and, of course, the clients. We deal with the emotional aspects of this transition later in the book, but in this chapter we focus on the operational risks successors and founders need to evaluate in their transition.

The founder-centric firm, so common in the advisory space, creates a challenge for the successor in assessing the organization and what it needs to grow. The successor and founder should start with one question: Are we replacing the old model with a new model or are we just placing a new person at the center of the solar system? The answer to this question has major ramifications throughout the organization, and for its employees and clients.

What Road Do You Choose?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.

—Robert Frost

This idea of choice continues to guide our thinking. Since the three ...

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