January 31, 2013

A company for children

He had a son and a daughter, 30 and 28 years old respectively. A very successful professional having served in a couple of conglomarates as CEO. “At 55 I retired 2 years ago,” he said.  “Great” I remarked. “What do you do now?” “I have this hobby… growing olives.” he said. “Olives?” I asked. “Yes,” he said, “to produce the best olive oil on the world.” He was on the seat next to me as we were flying to Paris.

To be a consultant to company owners on their mission in finding a partner is perceived to be -as I have found out in time- quite an interesting job. Somehow everybody has a story to tell or an experience to share with me when I explain to them what I do for a living.

“It is a great mision to have,” was my next comment to the ex-CEO. He smiled somewhat cynically. “Now I have to work like crazy,” he said. Seeing the question marks in my eyes he continued: “I made the mistake of making a business out of my hobby. I asked my son and daughter if they would be interested in having this hobby-business grown into a real business under their management. First they both said yes. Hearing this I invested a couple of million dollars. Today she lives in Paris. A month ago he left for a new job in USA.”

It was hard for me to hide my smile from him. He smiled too as he asked: “A story you know too well?” ” Yes,” I said “It is very hard to have a business agreement with children. Because whatever they do they are your children.”

As we were leaving the plane at Charles de Gaulle airport, he said: “I might visit you in a couple of months.”

The oldie of the week: The Brothers Four – Greenfields (1960)

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