Chapter 11Building a Legacy

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me.

—Steve Jobs

To a successor, the emotional hunger of founders/CEOs can sometimes seem so great that nothing can satisfy it. Every commentator we interviewed made the same point: Founders are so closely identified with the businesses they've built, the cultures they've created, and the client relationships they've developed that overcoming their psychological resistance to stepping away is usually the greatest hurdle to success. Organizational conflicts need to be worked out, and the money aspects always need some agreement; otherwise, the transition either never takes place or fails in the attempt. But until the founder has crossed the “emotional Rubicon,” as Mark Hurley puts it, there's no real opportunity for progress. So, while the emotional element for founders—and for successors—really does come first conceptually, the final coming-to-terms in the transition often requires slow and gradual progress toward emotional resolution.

Throughout this book, we've addressed many aspects of this resistance and the various means to achieve resolution. We conclude now with further thoughts on what can be the most powerful motivator for all parties involved: the creation and preservation of legacy. Legacy exists only if the firm has a future, so developing a clear vision for what that legacy—that future—should be ...

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